Footy-playing artist is a top scorer at auction

HE was renowned as one of Scotland's finest post-war artists – as well as turning out to play football for the national side.

Now two years after his death, a collection of works by Fife-born John Houston have fetched almost 35,000 at auction in Edinburgh – in what experts say could turn out to be a very good investment indeed.

Fife-born Houston was renowned for his originality and best known for his flower paintings and landscapes, particularly Bass Rock, off North Berwick.

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But he almost carved out a career in football, playing for Dundee United while studying at art school in Edinburgh and also turning out for Scotland's under-21 side in a match against England before suffering a serious knee injury.

A collection of ten of the artist's expressionist master works were sold at Bonhams Fine Art Sale yesterday.

The top price was fetched by a characteristic painting of Bass Rock, which sold to a Scottish collector for 8400.

Bonhams' head of pictures in Edinburgh Chris Brickley said he was "pleased with the results", adding: "John Houston's football career was cut short by injury, but football's loss was the art world's gain and he made a name for himself as one of Scotland's finest post-war artists.

"Houston's artistic worth has never been in doubt but his paintings are now attracting serious attention from collectors and getting the recognition they deserve. It will not be long before his work breaks the five-figure barrier at auction."

Houston was born in Buckhaven and educated at Buckhaven High School and Edinburgh College of Art. He was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1972.

Houston was made an OBE in 1990 and died in September 2008, aged 78, after a brief illness.

A collection of four paintings by another Fife-born artist, Craigie Aitchison, fetched 55,800 at the same auction – almost exactly two years after he died, aged 83.

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Aitchison, whose work was bought by celebrities including Sir Elton John, was renowned for his paintings of the crucifixion – one of which, Small Crucifixion, fetched 13,200.

He was also famed for painting his beloved Bedlington terriers, two of which Dog and Tree and Priest and Dog each sold for 13,200.