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Sotheby's relaunches Scottish Sale
Alexander Mann (1853-1908), The Gleaners. Oil on canvas. Estimate: £60,000-80,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby's will relaunch dedicated sales of Scottish Art in London with an auction on 18 November 2015. The auction features leading Scottish artists of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including a strong group of paintings by the Scottish Colourists, and an exciting selection of works by contemporary Scottish artists and photographers. The contents of the 76-lot sale will be on public exhibition at The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh from 30 October to 1 November, prior to viewing in London.*

Jane Oakley, Sotheby’s Scottish Art Specialist, said: "Sotheby's pioneered Scottish art sales back in the early 1970s and we’ve been at the forefront ever since. There is now undoubtedly an appetite for the return of a dedicated auction of Scottish art in London. Our November sale will showcase a broad range of Scottish artists, from the late 19th century through the Colourists right up to the contemporary. Headlined by a superb group of works by the Colourists, many coming to auction for the first time, this will be the highest value Scottish art sale for several years. It’s exciting to be able to showcase such a diverse selection to the wider public at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh."

Property of George Watson’s College and Sold In Aid of The George Watson’s Family Foundation
Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (1883-1937), The Cheval Glass, oil on canvas
Estimate: £250,000-350,000

The Cheval Glass dates from a series of interiors painted by Cadell at the height of his powers between 1913, when he moved to 130 George Street in Edinburgh, and 1915, when he was sent to serve on the French front. In each, a woman stands before a mirror or mantelpiece in a stylish drawing room, wearing the fashionable costume of the day. Her reflection, visible in the mirror, amplifies her elegant figure. The model for this work was Miss Bethia Don Wauchope, Cadell’s muse for at least 15 years and a society lady of independent means who chose to pose for the artist because she wanted to. The studio’s stark, modern colour scheme of violet-painted walls and floor painted glossy black was a reflection of the dramatic and glamourous modernism of Cadell’s art. Rather than a portrait in the traditional sense, The Cheval Glass can be described as an arrangement; the figure of the woman and her reflection are devices within the composition as much as they are the subject of it. The influence of the artists James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent can be seen in the fluid, confident brushstrokes and subtle, understated colour. Demonstrating Cadell’s mastery of the medium, the painting is both detailed yet economical – Cadell manages to suggest the figure and furnishings with simple touches of paint. The colour scheme, the application of paint in rapid strokes – which imparts a shimmering quality to the image – and the artistic conceit of displaying two aspects of a woman’s beauty by showing her reflection in a mirror, converge to produce a masterpiece in Cadell’s oeuvre.

Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, Florian’s Café, Venice, oil on panel
Estimate: £400,000-600,000

Cadell visited Venice in 1910, the year Florian’s Café, Venice was painted. The effect of the trip on his work was dramatic. The vibrant colours of the city and the Mediterranean light stimulated a passion for colour, resulting in joyous and energetic canvases, spontaneously painted and technically surpassing anything he had produced before. The famous Florian’s Café, a subject Cadell painted on a number of occasions, was frequented by wealthy tourists and locals alike. He captures the elegance of the Edwardian era, in particular a group of ladies gathered in fashionable attire. Just as café society had fascinated artists of the Belle Époque, Cadell was drawn by the tumultuous riot of colourful fabrics, décor and the elegant silhouettes of the customers. These new works, exhibited in Edinburgh on the artist’s return, were such a departure that they proved a little too progressive for a contemporary audience. It was, however, a pivotal moment in Cadell’s career and established him as one of the stars of the contemporary Scottish scene.

Samuel John Peploe (1871-1935), Still Life with Coffee Pot and Fan, oil on board
Estimate: £150,000-250,000

While Still Life with Coffee Pot and Fan is considered to be an early work by Peploe, the artist was already 30 when he painted it. Two of his earliest influences were Edouard Manet and Frans Hals, whose dark backgrounds and subtle tonal backgrounds, combined with lusciously thick brushstrokes, are evident in this elegant still life. Around 1905, Peploe embarked on a series of still lifes, in which predominantly dark backgrounds are contrasted with exuberantly applied light tones and bright touches of colour. The objects in this work appear casually arranged yet Peploe has created a complex and harmonious composition, with motifs that will return again and again over the years. The bold, spontaneous brushwork that makes up the rose and fan, and the sweeping stroke that delineates the glass, demonstrates the hand of a highly skilled and experienced artist. The comparative rarity of such early still lifes by Peploe, coupled with their virtuosity of technique, have made them some of his most highly desirable works.

Samuel John Peploe, Pink Roses, oil on canvas
Estimate: £350,000-450,000

Peploe is probably associated with roses more than any other flower in his still life paintings. The determination to paint the perfect still life was a lifelong obsession for the artist. By around 1919, his mature style was fully formed, and he was producing complex studies of shape and pure colour. The early 1920s were a financially rewarding and secure period for the artist. He painted a series of highly coloured still lifes in these years, a period from which Pink Roses dates. The painting bears all the hallmarks of Peploe’s finest still lifes: a closely cropped composition and flattened picture space, the recurrent motif of the blue and white Chinese vase, arrangements of citrus fruits, the Chinese fan, and the brightly coloured background, subtly modulated in tone.

John Duncan Fergusson (1874 – 1961), Street Scene, Paris, oil on board
Estimate: £100,000-150,000

Painted in 1907, Street Scene, Paris summarises Fergusson's time spent in Paris, where he encountered a fluid cityscape which offered new subjects in an ever-changing cultural landscape. In stylistic terms the brushstrokes are remarkably free and pronounced, sharply in tune with the pace of the city. Confident in a looser technique and handling of paint, Fergusson used single brushstrokes to describe a hat or the flow of a dress. The artist was so enamoured with Paris, he encouraged his friend and fellow Scottish Colourist S.J. Peploe to relocate there; his artistic acquaintances and experiences, including greater opportunities to exhibit, amounted to a prolific output, abruptly brought to an end by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.

George Leslie Hunter (1877 – 1931), Stocks in a White Vase, oil on canvas
Estimate: £150,000-250,000

Painted circa 1930, Stocks in a White Vase sees Hunter at his most vibrant and free, in a clear departure from the tighter flower arrangements of the artist’s pre-war years. During the mid to late 1920s, Hunter was living and working in the South of France, primarily in the town of St-Paul-de-Vence, where he directed significant time and energy to still life painting. The influence of Matisse is undoubtedly rooted in this work’s colour scheme, and in the floral drape which seeks to connect the background with the flowers in the fore. The painting also owes much to Cézanne, in Hunter’s use of a square brush and his prioritisation of colour and form over the rules of perspective. Dating from a period during which Hunter was working with absolute confidence in his abilities, Stocks in a White Vase embodies the artist’s finest characteristics as a colourist.

Alexander Mann (1853-1908), The Gleaners, oil on canvas
Estimate: £60,000-80,000

Dated 1889, The Gleaners was most probably produced whilst Mann was living in Berkshire. The 1880s saw many artists rediscovering the virtues of rural living and working the land. This painting depicts a young family gleaning leftover crops from a farmer's field. The scene is bathed in sunshine, and the sentiment is both nostalgic and romanticised, as a family rescues food in what would have been a laborious process. Gleaning was a popular subject in France throughout the nineteenth century and the realism of its main protagonists in art, Millet and Bastien-Lepage, had a profound impact on Scottish art of the late nineteenth century, especially the Glasgow Boys with whom Mann was closely associated.

William McTaggart (1835-1910), Over the Harbour Bar, oil on canvas
Estimate: £60,000-80,000

Painted in 1886, Over the Harbour Bar is one of the most important pictures of McTaggart’s middle period. Moving away from the more tightly painted and highly finished narrative pictures of his early career, he began to concentrate on simple, immediate scenes of everyday life. In the summers of 1883 and 1885 McTaggart stayed at Carradale on the east coast of Kintyre where his main focus was the lives of the herring fishermen, both out at sea and on the shore. A watercolour he produced on his first visit was later developed into Over the Harbour Bar; the lapse of time between sketch and finished piece was not unusual for McTaggart and illustrates his habit of spending the summers painting outdoors and storing up material for later re-working in the studio during more inclement weather. Similarities between his work – very much rooted in Scotland – and that of the Impressionists is undeniable, but his progressive style developed independently from modern trends in Europe.

Arthur Melville (1858-1904), Outside the Bullring, pencil and watercolour heightened with white. Estimate: £40,000-60,000

Arthur Melville was a master in the medium of watercolour. Outside the Bullring, painted in Spain, displays all the visual hallmarks of why he chose to visit the country throughout his career. On large expanses of paper he loved to capture the glimmering white sunlight refracted from white-washed walls and red-tiled roofs, and the human activity that suggested notes of bright colour against a daringly sparse background. This watercolour was painted in 1899 when Melville was at the peak of his career, at a time when his handling of watercolour had become both assured and inimitable.

Sir William Russell Flint (1880 – 1969), Olearia, watercolour
Estimate: £60,000-80,000

Olearia depicts Flint’s most celebrated model Cecilia Green, who appeared in many of his greatest works from 1953 when she was first introduced to the artist. From the moment that Flint first saw Cecilia he knew that he had found the model he always wanted to paint, a woman who embodied his ideal of feminine beauty. She continued to model for Flint until the mid-1960s when she married and became a model for various advertising campaigns. Her departure from Flint’s life left him distraught and he did not mention her once in his autobiography, despite the important role she played in his art.

• Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley (1921-1963), A Glasgow Close, oil on canvas board. Painted circa 1956. Estimate: £20,000-30,000

• Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley, A Glasgow Boy, oil on canvas. Estimate: £30,000-50,000

In the 1980s, figurative painting found a revival in the work of The New Glasgow Boys. Having studied at the Glasgow School of Art, the artists found their subject matter in working class Scottish life, which they presented in a brutally realist manner. In doing so, the group moved against the overriding influence of conceptualism and minimalism, exaggerating the allegorical and often biographical nature of their work. This is especially true of Peter Howson, whose monumental pictures observe the life of the individual on the streets of Glasgow. Ken Currie has also taken inspiration from the city’s streets, utilising portraiture to comment on the effects of Glasgow’s industrial decline.

Ken Currie (b.1960), Howl with the Wolves, conte pencil
Estimate: £15,000-25,000

In the mid-1980s, Ken Currie returned to creating portraits in charcoal. In Howl with the Wolves, Currie’s depicts a protest march in which a solitary lamp illuminates a central gathering of figures, defining their facial features and clenched fists, whilst a crescent moon in the background reveals a sea of figures to the rear. In drawing attention to light or a lack thereof, Currie comments on the lack of hope for the Scottish working class in the late twentieth century. The choice of charcoal as medium and the lack of colour serve to heighten impact. This colossal work reflects the ambition of the New Glasgow Boys to focus intently upon the human figure, emphasising both the physical muscularity and inherent fragility of man.

Peter Howson (b.1958), Boxer, oil on canvas
Estimate: £20,000-30,000

Peter Howson has built up a reputation for his powerful, unapologetic style, and in 1993 was chosen by the Imperial War Museum to be an official British war artist in Bosnia. In the early period of his career he used large scale canvases to focus on the struggles faced by men on the streets of Glasgow. Howson’s monumental work Boxer is typical in both subject and size. He chooses to focus on the fighter’s intense gaze as he throws a punch, the muscles and tendons of the forearm strained and tense, the face grimly set. Howson was well accustomed with the subject of boxing, having lived in a boxing gymnasium following a short period in the army.

David Eustace (b.1961), Four Steel Workers, Brazil, 2011
pigment print, signed with initials and numbered 6/10 in pencil in the lower margin. Estimate: £7,000-9,000

The Glaswegian-born photographer David Eustace has been described as the photographer’s photographer, with works in a wide variety of private and public institutions including Deutsche Bank, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art. Living between Edinburgh and New York, he has photographed luminaries from the world of art, cinema, music and design, including Tracey Emin, Sir Peter Blake, Sophia Loren, James Earl Jones, Radiohead, Sir Paul McCartney, and Lord Norman Foster. He also works in fashion, landscape and on documentary projects. In 2011 Eustace undertook a commission from the Weir Group to create a portfolio celebrating the company’s 175 year history. This took him to the US, Chile and also Brazil, where Four Steel Workers, Brazil was photographed. Eustace was struck by beauty in what appeared to be a very tough environment. Despite the masks, the differing stance of each figure emphasises their individuality. The subtle yellow tones picked out on their gloves and reflected in their silver coats serves to animate them further.

Alison Watt (b.1966), Pears, oil on canvas
Estimate: £30,000-50,000

The focus of Watt’s paintings during the 1990s was highly realistic female figures posed alongside drapery. In Pears, a naked woman is seated upon a low futon shrouded in a white sheet, awkwardly propped up against several pillows. The painting’s title refers to the pile of pears placed in the sitter’s lap, a focal device with an allusion to forbidden fruit. Watt graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 1988 and went on to serve as artist in residence at the National Gallery from 2006 to 2008.

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