A RARE early painting by Scottish artist John Bellany is expected to fetch thousands of pounds when it goes under the hammer at an auction in Edinburgh this week.
Self portrait – Hogmanay was painted by Bellany in 1968 and was one of the last pieces the late artist created while he was at art college in London.
Charlotte Riordan, painting specialist at Lyon and Turnbull, said: “John Bellany, who sadly died last year, was one of the best loved Scottish artists of the 20th century. One result of his passing has been the re- emergence of some significant early works on to the market.”
The painting is expected to fetch between £20,000 and £30,000 when it goes on sale at Lyon and Turnbull’s Contemporary and Post-War Art auction on Thursday.
Ms Riordan said: “Self portrait – Hogmanay was painted in 1968, towards the end of Bellany’s time at the Royal College of Art.
“Several new and important motifs can be seen in the painting, the parrot, the skeleton and the element of self portraiture.
“Bellany always had plastic parrots dotted around his studio. The exaggeration of its beak in this painting is a theme repeated by Bellany with seagulls and puffins in later works.”
Around the time of the painting Bellany went to Germany with friends, the artist Alexander Moffat and poet Alan Bold, where they visited artists on the east side of the Berlin Wall, an experience that was to prove a useful lesson in social realism for all three.
While they were there they went on a tour of Buchenwald concentration camp. Five of Bellany’s other paintings will also feature in the sale, including The Great Dream, which is a triptych piece.
The highest price ever paid for an artwork at auction was $142.4 million (£84.8m) for a 1969 triptych – Three Studies of Lucian Freud – by Francis Bacon.
However, The Great Dream is expected to fetch between £6,000 and £8,000.
Bellany was born in Port Seton, East Lothian, and during the 1960s he studied at Edinburgh College of Art and then at the Royal College of Art in London.
In much of his work he drew inspiration from the coastal community from which he came and inspired many other artists in the area such as Andrew Crummy, the man behind The Scottish Diaspora tapestry.
Many of Bellany’s paintings reflect on the fishing community, through either oil paintings of harbours or portraits of the fishing community people.
Ms Riordan added: “His health problems, which led to a liver transplant, also inspired works. A late life move to Barga in Tuscany, Italy, had drastically changed his work which showed a huge optimism in the brighter colour range used.”
Bellany’s work is included in some of the world’s great collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Tate Britain, London.