'˜Exceptional' Scottish Colourists mark auction's return

A host of masterpieces by the Scottish Colourists are expected to help a flagship auction of Scottish art achieve sales of more than £2.5 million.

A detail of Fergussons Amongst The Rocks, Cap dAntibes, with an estimated price of £100,000 to £150,000
A detail of Fergussons Amongst The Rocks, Cap dAntibes, with an estimated price of £100,000 to £150,000

The 17 works, described as an “exceptional group” by Sotheby’s, are expected to attract global interest when they go up for auction next month.

The paintings by FCB Cadell, Samuel John Peploe, John Duncan Fergusson and George Leslie Hunter – who all came to prominence at the turn of the 20th century – are expected to command up to £350,000.

The work of the artists, who were all inspired by spells living and working in France, is regularly put on display by the National Galleries of Scotland and is much sought after by private collectors.

Sotheby’s revived its annual Scottish art sale after a five-year hiatus last November due to a resurgence of interest in the work of the Colourists and other 20th century artists such as Anne Redpath and John Bellany.

Modern-day artists including Jack Vettriano, Elizabeth Blackadder, Peter Howson and Ken Currie are also featured among the 70 lots. They will be brought together for a one-off exhibition at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh ahead of the sale on 22 November.

Among the most sought-after works in the sale – which has taken Sotheby’s around a year to put together – are likely to be Cadell’s Interior, The Red Chair, described by Sotheby’s as “one of a remarkable series of interiors painted by Cadell during the 1920s which arguably represent the high point of the artist’s career”.

Its catalogue states: “In 1920 he moved into a new residence at 6 Ainslie Place in Edinburgh where the rooms and Cadell’s stylish decoration of them provided him with his inspiration and subject matter. The painting demonstrates Cadell’s important position at the forefront of British modernism and is characteristic of the bold and distinctive style he developed during the post-war years.”

Coming up for auction for the first time is Peploe’s Still Life With Tulips And Oranges, which is said to be a “dynamic example of Peploe’s experimental style from the period when he lived in Paris between 1910 and 1912”.

Fergusson works coming up for sale include Amongst The Rocks, Cap d’Antibes, depicting the artist’s wife, the dancer and choreographer Margaret Morris, and hailed by Sotheby’s as “at once an example of Scottish and French modernism and a picture extremely personal to the artist’s great love”.

The Scottish art world was dealt a huge blow in 2009 when it emerged that the annual sale of Scottish art at the Gleneagles hotel in Perthshire was ending after more than four decades.

The event was relocated to London for two years before being disbanded completely by the auctioneers in the wake of the financial crash.

However, it was revived last year in London following a resurgence in the market, with an exhibition held in Edinburgh in advance of the London sale, which generated £2.1m.

Simon Toll, Scottish art specialist at Sotheby’s, said: “The sales we used to have in Scotland had become pretty big and unwieldy and it was decided to bring them to London.

“We have realised that there is something unique about Scottish art and we need to re-engage with Scotland and our clients up there.

“Having the exhibition in Edinburgh is obviously about attracting buyers, but it also helps attract future sellers.

“There has always been a real connection between the Colourists and the United States and Canada, but now we’re also seeing it from Asia and all over Europe.

“Their work is so beautiful and fantastic, but it is still relatively cheap compared with some other collecting categories. There’s just something very bright, optimistic and engaging about their work. The market for their work is continuing to get stronger and stronger.”