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Sotheby's will Stage its Scottish Pictures Auction in London for the First Time
Joan Eardley (1921-1963), Brass, Hair and Wool, 1963. Estimate: £80,000-120,000. Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's.

LONDON.- 2008 was a successful year for Scottish Pictures at Sotheby’s with almost £9 million worth of Scottish Pictures sold and at least eight new auction records established. Now, the first of the bi-annual sales in the field this year will be staged on Wednesday, April 29, 2009 and it will bring to the market superb examples by many of the best-known Scottish artists of the 20th century, including Samuel John Peploe, George Leslie Hunter, Joan Eardley, Anne Redpath and Alison Watt. The sale of some 150 lots - many of which have exemplary provenance having never previously appeared on the auction market - will be staged for the first time at the company’s New Bond Street galleries in London. Sotheby’s will, however, be travelling all of the works to the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh on April 19, 20 and 21 for public exhibition.

Speaking about the sale, Andre Zlattinger, Senior Director and Head of Scottish Pictures at Sotheby’s, said: “Following the success of our recent sales - and the interest we’ve regularly received from collectors in Asia, the US, the Middle East and Europe - we think the time is right for Scottish Pictures to have a more international pedestal. The Scottish market has become truly global and we are therefore delighted to announce that our sales of Scottish Pictures going forward will be staged at our New Bond Street salerooms in London. Our forthcoming sale is one of our most interesting sales for many years; it contains a rich diversity of Scottish painting by acclaimed artists such as Sir Edwin Landseer, Samuel John Peploe, George Leslie Hunter, Anne Redpath, Joan Eardley, Sir Robin Philipson and Alison Watt. The sale has something to offer all collectors in the field of Scottish painting.”

The Anthony Rampton Collection
A group of works from the collection of Anthony Rampton O.B.E. (1915-1993) forms the core of the sale and Mr. Rampton was not only a successful businessman highly regarded for his philanthropic work but also a great modern painter himself and collector of 20th Century British Art. He and his wife shared a love of Scotland and they spent a great deal of time at their holiday home on Arran, where they developed a very discerning eye for Scottish Art. Mr. Rampton had a particular passion for the contemporary painters of his day and his collection is led by an important group of works by Joan Eardley (1921-1963), the highlight of which is a composition entitled Brass, Hair and Wool. Painted in 1963, the last year of her life, the picture - which is arguably one of the most important works by Eardley ever to come to auction - depicts two young boys from the tenements of Glasgow in conversation against a red wall; the tenements of Glasgow provided the setting for much of Eardley’s work. Composed of stencilled words, scraps of gold, coloured metal foil and newsprint, Brass, Hair and Wool captures the very essence of Eardley’s oeuvre. Never offered at auction before and the first major mixed medium work by her to appear on the market, the picture is estimated at £80,000-120,000.

The remaining five Eardley works in the collection include further Glasgow street scenes and also a number of seascapes of Catterline, which all demonstrate the range and depth of her work. Eardley’s profile on the international stage has been going from strength to strength in recent years; just last year the National Gallery of Scotland organised a major exhibition of her work and in Sotheby’s sale at Gleneagles in August a new auction record was established for her by a considerable margin when Beggars in Venice sold for £169,250.

Anne Redpath (1895-1965) is also represented in the Rampton Collection by a landscape entitled Pittenweem, Village in Fife. Dating from the late 1950s, the oil on canvas depicts the Fife fishing village on a cloudy day and contrasts the white houses against the dark sky. The dramatic composition - heightened by the lack of depth and shadow of the buildings - is estimated at £40,000-60,000.

The Scottish Colourists
The ever-popular Scottish Colourists are well represented in the sale by some 25 or so works. Three major still life paintings by Samuel John Peploe (1871-1935) spearhead the group and Peploe was best-known for his meticulous style of painting which saw him strive to create the perfect still life. Flower paintings were his first love and they were perfectly suited to his style as they allowed him to focus on many of the qualities that his work is best known for: a delicacy of touch along with a sure sense of pattern, colour and perspective. There are no deep meanings to be derived from his paintings, they are simply a stunning portrayal of colour and perspective in their purest form.

Roses from the 1920s - the height of Peploe’s career - is among the most sophisticated and beautiful of his still life compositions. The soft tones and subtle brush strokes create a superbly balanced and harmonious painting, which is typical of his finest works of the period. Estimated at £300,000-500,000, Roses ranks among the most important works by Peploe ever to appear at auction. The painting has been in the same private collection since the 1920s.

The second striking floral still life by Peploe is Arum Lilies and dating from circa 1919 this is also estimated at £300,000-500,000. The colouring of this picture is particularly strong with the brilliant white of the petals, bright citrus fruits on the table and a vivid blue background that appears in many paintings by Cadell, whose studio Peploe was occasionally using at the time. The sense of perspective and energy in this work is reminiscent of Matisse, who was also an important influence on Peploe. Arum Lilies is a rare work given that he only chose to paint lilies on a handful of occasions, preferring instead tulips and roses. The large fluted blooms, however, give a unique sense of energy and vigour. At the time that Arum Lilies was painted, Peploe was an established artist with a reputation that had seen him elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1917.

Still Life with Pink Roses is the latter of the major Peploe offerings with an estimate of £200,000-300,000. This work makes an interesting comparison to Roses, which were both painted during the same mature period when Peploe was producing some of his most advanced works.

George Leslie Hunter’s (1877-1931) Still Life with Tulips and Oranges is without doubt one of the finest still lifes by the artist ever to come to the market and as such it is estimated at £300,000-500,000. It was painted during his most active period of still life painting in the mid to late 1920s when he took a studio in the South of France and his work became invigorated by the warmth of the Mediterranean sun and the influence of Matisse. The bold colouring and the starkness of the forms of the oranges and tulips against the white background and table-cloth clearly demonstrates Hunter’s admiration for the French artist. Still Life with Tulips and Oranges is an exceptionally colourful, energetic and vibrant example of the Post-Impressionist style which so fundamentally informed the Scottish Colourists. The painting has never been offered at auction before so comes to the market with exemplary provenance.

Early 20th Century Pictures
Following the success of Sir William Russell Flint’s (1880-1969) Nicollet at auction last summer, which fetched an auction record price for the artist of £301,250, and Sandy Bastion, which made £120,500, Sotheby’s is delighted to include another superb work by Flint in the forthcoming sale. Alethea is a truly splendid example of Flint’s virtuous command of watercolour and the use of his favourite subject, the nude. It is estimated at £60,000-80,000. Flint’s nubile young ladies have become the epitome of sensual glamour during the early decades of the 20th century. The sale will offer a dozen works by Flint in total.

Post-War Art
A large triptych by Sir Robin Philipson (1916-1992) is one of the highlights of the Post-War works in the sale. Ho! Ho! The Hobby Horse (lot 132, centre panel is a rare triptych which displays all of the artist’s signature themes. Philipson used the triptych format on a number of occasions to emphasise the monumentality of his work, something which was frequently employed by the great old master painters of the Italian and Northern Renaissance. The influence of Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud can often been seen in Philipson’s imagery and style as well. The theme of Ho! Ho! The Hobby Horse’s main canvas centres around three beef carcases hanging from meet hooks and dressed in French Revolution military uniforms while in the background soldiers are seen cavorting with prostitutes. The two additional side canvasses also show soldiers romancing prostitutes but this time the scene is made all the more sinister by fairground carousels. Ho! Ho! The Hobby Horse is estimated at £70,000-100,000 and its appearance on the market follows the sale of the artist’s Zebra triptych last year for a record-breaking price of £192,500.

Alison Watt O.B.E. (b. 1965) is a leading figure of the Scottish Contemporary Art scene who is perhaps best known for her bold and intensely observed figurative style. The youngest artist ever to be offered a solo exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2000, she then served as the seventh artist in residence at the National Gallery in London between January 2006 and February 2008, where she took inspiration from the masterpieces on view. Her diptych entitled Madame Riviere; Fragment V clearly shows the counterpoint between figuration and abstraction that has become such a defining feature of her oeuvre. It is estimated at £50,000-70,000.

Jack Vettriano (b. 1951) also features strongly in the sale and Rough Trade, estimated at £100,000-150,000 (lot 150), and Dance Me to the End of Love, estimated at £100,000-150,000 (lot 149), are of particular note in this group. Dance Me to the End of Love is one of Vettriano’s most celebrated images.

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