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|| Sunday, August 25, 2019
|Sotheby's Scottish Art Sale includes Joan Eardley, the Scottish Colourists & strong Post-War group of works|
Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (1883-1937), North Wind, Iona (The Bather), oil on panel, est. £60,000-80,000. Photo: Courtesy Sotheby's.
LONDON.- This is one of our strongest offerings of Scottish art in years. Were thrilled to be able to present one of the most significant and diverse groups of works available on the market by Joan Eardley, whose recent retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art was a clear indication of how highly revered this visionary artist has become. The Scottish Colourists are headlined by truly great examples by all four proponents, including one of the best still lifes ever painted by George Leslie Hunter. An exciting post-war section includes an absolute masterpiece by Anne Redpath, a top notch example of one of Robin Philipsons paintings of red poppies, and a fantastic group of works by John Bellany from the 1970s. Last, but not least, one of John Laverys coveted golf course scenes make a welcome appearance, following the success of a painting from the same series in our sale last year. Thomas Podd, Sothebys Head of Scottish Art
Joan Eardley (1921-1963) was recognised in her lifetime as the leading female, post-war artist in Scotland. Born in Sussex, her family moved to Glasgow in 1940 to flee the bombing raids. She enrolled at the Glasgow School of Art and following her graduation, remained and flourished in Scotland. Her interest in the everyday and the ordinary took her to one of Glasgows poorest districts, Townhead where she painted starkly truthful depictions of the local people. Fearlessly honest and unsentimental, she depicted the children in a way that is compelling and distinct from the way children had been painted before. In contrast to contemporary Abstract Expressionism in America, Joans work refuted the formalist notion that modern art should move away from realism. Instead her work combined realism and abstraction, creating a highly unique form of painting. By 1952 the remote north-east fishing village of Catterline had become Eardleys second home. Here she painted windswept coastal landscapes, bolting down her canvas-boards between rocks on the beaches during torrential weather conditions. In 1962 when she was diagnosed with cancer, her determination to continue working led her to refuse medication. The following year she was elected an Academician of the Royal Scottish Academy and was given a solo exhibition in London. The exhibition was critically acclaimed but she was too ill to see the show herself. Sadly, just as her fame was blossoming, she died but with each subsequent exhibition and new publication of her art, her stature has grown, culminating most recently in the 2016-17 retrospective at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.
Girl with a Green Scarf, gouache, est. £60,000-80,000
Girl with a Green Scarf displays Eardleys confident use of colour; the fiery red hair of the young girl creates a vibrant contrast to the ultramarine background that it is set against. The mellow green of the scarf balances these more vivacious, dynamic colours. Eardley celebrated the vibrant character of the children of Townhead, portraying them kindly but capturing the tough reality of their impoverished lives. Her depictions of children are not sentimentalised; they are character studies of a neglected strata of society. She recognised the vitality of spirit that existed within the energetic children who played amongst the shattered remains of the tenements of Post War Glasgow.
Catterline Cottages, oil on canvas, est. £15,000-25,000
Eardley first visited the small fishing village of Catterline in the early 1950s, moving there more permanently in 1954. The power and presence of her work lies in her absolute commitment to living and working in environments that many of her background would have considered challenging. When she first moved to Catterline her works were not the windswept landscapes or roaring seas shes well known for, as she started by painting the cottages, perhaps because she had spent the previous years painting the graffiti-covered tenements of Townhead.
Childs Head, oil on board, est. £50,000-70,000
Eardley restlessly drew and painted the many children that came knocking on her door in Townhead. Described as having a rather shy and introverted character, she was remarkably sure of herself when she was absorbed by her creative ability. To capture these young children she would have to entertain them in her modest studio, encouraging them to sit still for her. There is no social message within this painting; Eardley simply painted what she observed, capturing the character of each child that passed through her studio on St Jamess Road.
THE SCOTTISH COLOURISTS
Samuel John Peploe, 1871-1935 Still Life of Roses with a Blue and White Vase, oil on canvas, est. £350,000-550,000
Combining bold colours, assured handling and a controlled composition of forms, Still Life of Roses in a Blue and White Vase is an exceptional example of Peploes mature style, painted in the 1920s at the height of his career when he produced some of his most accomplished, considered and vibrant still life paintings. He embarked on his most productive artistic phase and his paintings of roses mark the epitome of his still life paintings of this period. The pictures that he produced are vivid statements of modernity, elevating the art-form of still-life painting to new heights. Still Life of Roses in a Blue and White Vase is one of a series in which the sinuous contours of blue and white china vases and bowls is contrasted with bright accents of orange fruits and richly coloured roses. During this time, the artist stopped varnishing his pictures, allowing the pure colour of the paint to show through. For Peploe, the execution of the perfect still life was an obsession which dominated his career. It was for him both an aesthetic and intellectual exercise and he would spend hours contemplating the arrangement of his still lifes, carefully considering and tweaking each element, before finally putting brush to canvas.
George Leslie Hunter, 1877-1931 Still life of Pink Roses with Fruit and a Glass, oil on canvas, est. £200,000-300,000
The square-brush application of the brilliantly-hued paint in Still Life of Pink Roses, Fruit and a Glass demonstrates Hunters admiration for the work of Henri Matisse. It is difficult to date Hunters still-lifes; he did not often write a date on them and the pictures included in various exhibitions usually had ubiquitous titles like Still Life which make identifying specific exhibits impossible. However, stylistically this picture is likely to have been painted in the mid-1920s. At this time Hunters stilllife paintings were particularly vibrant, marked by a richness of colour and bold composition. There is a wonderful richness in the colours and an expressive use of the paint which suggests that it was clearly painted during a period in Hunters career when he was invigorated by his art and producing his best pictures.
John Duncan Fergusson, 1874-1961 Looking over Killiecrankie, oil on canvas, 1922, est. £80,000-120,000
In 1922 Fergusson embarked on his first motoring tour of the Scottish Highlands on the invitation of his long-standing friend, businessman and writer, John Ressich. Their tour began on 29th May in Glasgow, reached Pitlochry on the second day and continued onward to Blair Atholl. They drove along one of the most picturesque roads in Scotland, the Pass of Killiecrankie. The enchantingly scenic tour rekindled Fergussons interest in Scottish landscape and resulted in a wealth of sketches, watercolours and paintings. Fergussons love of colour is displayed here through the richly hued palette and the strong emphasis of the geometry of the landscape. These elements reflect the influence of his time in Paris in the early 1900s, and especially his interest in the art of Paul Cézanne. His infatuation with brilliant colour, taken in part from Fauve artists like Matisse and Derain, is displayed in the lush greens, strong blues and purples that dominate his palette. Contemporary artists and critics saw Fergusson as a pioneer of modern Scottish painting.
Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, 1883-1937 North Wind, Iona (The Bather), oil on panel, est. £60,000-80,000
Cadell made his first visit to Iona in 1912. With the white sands, azure water and wild windswept dunes, the beaches were a paradise for painters, and during the inter-war years there was a thriving artists colony attracted to the beauty and remoteness of the island. After his first visit, Cadell became quickly captivated by Ionas scenery and the challenges it presented to an artist hoping to capture its atmosphere and natural beauty. He visited Iona almost every summer for the next twenty years and never ceased to be inspired by the coastal landscape. Cadell painted on small boards, which he usually completed in one session en plein air. North Wind, Iona (The Bather) appears to be one of his later works due to the more topographically specific view of the island and the broken brush of dryer paint, in contrast to his earlier more fluid hand. It was unusual for Cadell to include figures in his Iona paintings, but here he has placed a woman clad in a white dress which flutters in the sea-breeze and gives a beautifully animated element echoing the rolling waves in the bay beyond.
The sale includes two further paintings of Iona by Cadell from a Scottish private collection: North Bay (est. £50,000-70,000) and Looking from Iona towards Mull (est. £60,000-80,000).
SIR JOHN LAVERY
Sir John Lavery, 1856-1941 The Golf Course, North Berwick, oil on canvas, 1922, est. £150,000-250,000
Lavery painted a series of canvases depicting the famous golf links at North Berwick between 1919 and 1921. The Golf Course, North Berwick is from the most important group of Laverys pictures painted at Westerdunes which include views from the grounds of the Marine Hotel, the putting course and the Ladies Links. He painted this favourite prospect on nine occasions. Three of these were painted down on the green and amongst the players, depicting different times of day and weather conditions. Six of these, including this picture and the top lot of Sothebys Scottish Art sale last year, were sketched from one of the balconies of the house and are devoted exclusively to the setting, with the distant beach and the island of Fidra breaking the horizon. These less-figurative canvases are perhaps more atmospheric and capture the majesty of the enormous skies and windswept coastal landscape.
Anne Redpath, 1895-1965 Roses and Sweet William (recto); Still Life with Tulips (verso), oil on board, est. £100,000-150,000
Roses and Sweet William is dateable to the mid-1950s when Redpath painted many of her most accomplished and beautiful pictures. Still-life painting was particularly important to Redpath in the 1950s and almost half of her exhibits at this time were images of flowers in pots, vases and jugs or potted plants on table-tops with various objets dart from her own collection. These pictures were painted in the studio she had moved into in 1952 following the breakdown of her marriage when she began to enjoy a more independent domestic environment.
Sir Robin Philipson, 1916-1992 Red Poppies on a Blue Background, oil on board, est. £40,000-60,000
Red Poppies on a Blue Background is an outstanding example of one of Sir Robin Philipson's best loved subjects. In the 1980s Philipson painted a series of large scale paintings depicting poppies in which he began to make fresh experiments using abstraction to define and allocate pictorial space. With its sumptuous impasto, the painting is extremely vibrant, consisting of a limited palette of blue and red. Philipson perfected a technique of underpainting and glazing within these works which would make them one of the great achievements of his artistic career.
JOHN BELLANY, 1942-2013
The town of Port Seton where John Bellany was born in 1942 lay at the very heart of his unique vision. The cold waters of the Firth of Forth, the traditional fishing community and the heavy cloak of Calvinism were influences which informed and permeated nearly every aspect of his artistic life. The resurgence onto the market of a selection of works painted in the 1970s, considered a high point in his career, follows the record price for the artist achieved last year when Sothebys sold Fishermen in Snow from the David Bowie collection for £106,000.
Jock McFadyen, b.1950 Calton Hill IV, oil on canvas, est. £8,000-12,000
Calton Hill IV was painted in 2017 and is part of a series of paintings showing views of Edinburghs famous Calton Hill from various viewpoints. The first work in the series was painted in 2015 and purchased the following year by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh. The artist calls these works the Lunatic Series.
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