Published: September 18, 2001
PERTHSHIRE, SCOTLAND – Sotheby’s broke world records in their annual three-day sale at Gleneagles Hotel. A staggering eleven world records tumbled Wednesday, September 5, for works by Scottish artists during the sale of Scottish and Sporting Paintings and Sculptures.
The most notable record of the evening was for the earliest work in the sale; a magnificent oil by Sir William Allan titled “Mary, Queen of Scots arriving at Leith.” The painting, which sold for £108,000, more than twice its pre-sale low estimate, showed Mary at the port at the end of her 14-year period of exile from Scotland.
Grant Ford, specialist in charge of the sale and its auctioneer, said, “We experienced some remarkable results for superior works by well-known Scottish painters this year. I am extremely pleased with the results of the sale and over the past three years at Gleneagles, we have sold over £10 million worth of Scottish pictures – a truly remarkable achievement.”
Other works of note, which achieved record prices included a brightly-coloured oil by Margaret Morris, the lifelong partner of Scottish Colourist J D Fergusson. The elaborately patterned painting entitled “Anita and Myself,” depicts Morris with Anita, a delightfully plump lady who is thought to have been her landlady. The painting fetched £44,200 – more than twice its pre-sale high estimate.
Works by Aberdeen born artist Alberto Morrocco (1917-98) also proved popular. The highest price was paid for “The door to the studio” which realised a record-breaking £48,800 against a pre-sale estimate of £30/40,000.
Elsewhere among the eleven record prices was a vibrant oil by Edward Hornel, who grew up in Kirkcudbright. The painting, which fetched £69,500, titled “Japanese Dancing Girls” dated from 1894 and was one of a series of paintings inspired by a tour of Japan. A watercolour of “The Grass Market,” Edinburgh by Louise Rayner fetched a record price of £28,100 – almost twice the pre-sale low estimate; while an atmospheric oil of a pair of polar bears by John Murray Thomson fetched £12,000
As the sale took place near one of the world’s most famous golf courses, it was very appropriate that scenes of the two oldest golf courses in Scotland fetched record prices. A watercolour of Musselburgh by John Smart, dated 1889, fetched £51,100 – more than five times its pre-sale low estimate, while an oil of “Hell Bunker, St Andrews” by George W Aikman, dated 1893, sold for £39,600 against a pre-sale estimate of £8/12,000.
An oil on canvas by Argyllshire, born William McTaggart, titled “A Summer Day, Machrihanish” fetched £113,500, which was the highest price of the sale.
The sale of Scottish and Sporting Paintings and Sculptures was part of Sotheby’s annual flagship sale. The series of sales began on Monday, September 3 with a highly successful sale of Modern and Vintage Sporting Guns and Rifles. The highest prices were fetched by a fine pair of Ken Hunt engraved 12-bore sidelock ejector guns by James Purdey & Sons and a fine .450 Nitro Express sidelock ejector rifle by John Rigby & Co. which realised £41,400 and £36,800 respectively.
The firm’s annual flagship sale of Wemyss Pottery at Gleneagles Hotel was conducted Tuesday, September 4. The auction included an extensive group of more than 30 examples of the Fife-based pottery’s famous pig model and world records were achieved for two of them.
The highest price of the sale was realised by a rare large pig, dating from around 1900, that fetched £16,600 – more than four times its pre-sale high estimate. The pig, which was seated on its haunches, was painted with black sponged markings on a shaded pink and white ground and measured 45.5cm long. The previous highest price paid for a piece of Wemyss ware had been shared by three pieces: a garden seat; a blue cat and a pair of pigs each of which fetched £12,650 at Sotheby’s in 1994, 1996 and 1997 respectively.
An early Twentieth Century sleeping piglet also made a world record today. Decorated with thistle motifs, the piglet fetched £12,575 – more than three times its pre-sale high estimate and far surpassing Sotheby’s record of £9,600, for a similar pig, which was achieved at last year’s sale.
Philip Howell, specialist in charge of the sale and its auctioneer, commented, “Strong interest from collectors on the telephone combined with a very determined overseas collector in the room led to some heated bidding.”
The sale fetched a total of £126,578, above its pre-sale high estimate of £109,000. It comprised 114 lots and saw many pieces exceed their pre-sale expectations. Notable pieces included a rare small Wemyss pig, one of only three known examples, decorated in a blue glaze, dating from around 1900, which fetched £9,600 – more than 12 times the pre-sale low estimate of £800.
Continuing the animal theme, models of cats also proved popular. A pair of late Nineteenth Century bright yellow smiling Gallé cats in the Wemyss style realised £12,575 against a pre-sale estimate of £5/7,000. This particular model appears to have provided the inspiration for an almost exact Wemyss copy. A rare Wemyss tabby cat, circa 1900, fetched £11,400.
A grand total of £4,287,257 was reported over three days of the auctions.
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