Colin Gleadell recounts the end of an era as Sotheby’s abandons its Scottish Pictures sale at Gleneagles Hotel, once the highlight of the August season and grand romp for guests and buyers. Sotheby’s will still sell Scottish art–mostly the Colourists and Jack Vettriano–in a £4 million sale scheduled for September in Edinburgh. Christie’s has exited the field altogether.
The changes now appear to leave the field open for Bonhams to take the reins. In its plush new salerooms in Queen Street, Bonhams goes into its 10th successive year of Scottish sales in Edinburgh from August 18-21, with nine sales and more than 1,000 lots from silver, glass, and whisky, to books, guns, furniture and pictures, estimated to fetch in the region of £1 million.
The largest proportion of value rests in a 107-lot Scottish picture sale on August 21. Here there is no shortage of 19th-century landscapes, headed by a small but evocative view of Dunrobin Castle (estimate £40,000 to £60,000) by Sir Edwin Landseer, last exhibited in 1981 at the Tate Gallery, which has come from a deceased estate. Other highlights are a lone Scottish Colourist still-life by George Leslie Hunter, bought in 1965 for £80, and now estimated at £120,000 to £180,000, and The River, an interesting early Symbolist work by Stephen Conroy, made for his graduation exhibition at the Glasgow School of Art in 1987, just before he was snapped up by Marlborough Fine Art (£15,000 to £20,000). […] Bonhams’ main challenger in Edinburgh now is locally based Lyon & Turnbull, which holds a series of auctions from August 17-19, competing in the market for Wemyss Ware and Scottish silver, and throwing in an usual collection of meteorites formed by Robert Elliott of Fife. Art lovers will have to be content with a contemporary-only sale, which will appeal to low-budget shoppers for prints by recognised names, and paintings by undervalued artists.