Bidding war for Scottish painting that became classic railway poster sends price soaring

Picture by celebrated Scottish artist auctioned after being unearthed in Edinburgh home of art collector

A painting by Dundee artist James McIntosh Patrick that became a classic railway poster has sold for more than three times its estimate after “spirited bidding” at an auction in Edinburgh.

Lyon & Turnbull senior specialist Alice Strang with James McIntosh's 1937 painting of Braemar Castle. (Photo by Lyon & Turnbull/Stewart Attwood)Lyon & Turnbull senior specialist Alice Strang with James McIntosh's 1937 painting of Braemar Castle. (Photo by Lyon & Turnbull/Stewart Attwood)
Lyon & Turnbull senior specialist Alice Strang with James McIntosh's 1937 painting of Braemar Castle. (Photo by Lyon & Turnbull/Stewart Attwood) | Stewart Attwood

The picture of Braemar Castle in 1937 fetched £9,450, inclusive of buyer’s premium, when it had been expected to sell for £2,000 to £3,000.

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The artwork inspired a poster promoting train travel to Royal Deeside in one of a series commissioned by the London and North Eastern Railway and London Midland and Scottish rail companies. It was discovered in the Edinburgh house of an art collector after he died.

The railway poster based on James McIntosh Patrick’s 1937 painting of Braemar Castle. (Photo by SSPL/National Railway Museum)The railway poster based on James McIntosh Patrick’s 1937 painting of Braemar Castle. (Photo by SSPL/National Railway Museum)
The railway poster based on James McIntosh Patrick’s 1937 painting of Braemar Castle. (Photo by SSPL/National Railway Museum) | NRM Pictorial Collection / Science Museum Group

Alice Strang, senior specialist at auctioneers Lyon & Turnbull, who was at Thursday’s sale, said: “What a journey this painting has been on. It has gone from being discovered in a private collection in Edinburgh this year to being the subject of spirited bidding in the saleroom this afternoon.

“The atmosphere was electric and my view from the rostrum was one of building excitement as it achieved over three times its top estimate.”

The painting was found wrapped unframed in brown paper and propped against a table in the hall.

Transport in Scotland is a key issue - get our specialist newsletter for the best update The collector’s daughter said: “McIntosh Patrick was my father’s favourite artist. He was also brought up in Dundee and struck up a correspondence with the painter, who came to visit him about 35 years ago.

“McIntosh Patrick said he did not know where his paintings ended up and was delighted to see one of his works for the first time for some 50 years. In return, he invited my parents to his house for tea.” The artist died in 1998, aged 91.

The painting became part of the “quicker by Rail” series of railway posters, with McIntosh Patrick also designing many other railway posters, including of Dunfermline, St Andrews and Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven.

Ms Strang said of the Deeside oil painting: “It’s totally evocative of that wonderful inter-war era of exploring Britain by train - glory days of railway journeying. The railway posters tapped into a heart-warming feeling of nostalgia, and appeal to us even now.”

Emily Walsh, managing director of The Fine Art Society in Edinburgh, said: “It is unusual to see this early poster design come on the market.”

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