ARTnewsletter Archive

Hits and Misses at Bonhams Scottish Art Sale

Bonhams achieved its highest total to date for a series of Scottish art and antiques sales in Edinburgh last month when it sold all but 16 percent of 775 lots for £3.4 million ($5.5 million).

LONDON—Bonhams achieved its highest total to date for a series of Scottish art and antiques sales in Edinburgh last month when it sold all but 16 percent of 775 lots for £3.4 million ($5.5 million). Since Sotheby’s and Christie’s ceased holding specialised sales for Scottish art, Bonhams has taken up the mantle.

The most valuable section of the sales, was an “Important Private American Collection” of 21 paintings by the four Scottish Colourists: Samuel John Peploe, Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, George Leslie Hunter and John Duncan Fergusson. The collection, which was being sold for undisclosed financial reasons, also included works by the Scottish Impressionist painter William McTaggart. They went under the hammer on August 31 and realised £1.8 million ($2.9 million) as a vibrant still life by Peploe, Flowers and Fruit, sold to a private U.K. collector for £512,800 ($837,000) against an estimate of £300,000/500,000, the second-highest price for the artist. Nearly all the highest-selling works went to private UK collectors apart from a smaller Peploe, Still Life with Flowers, Fruit and Fan, that sold to the specialist dealer Duncan Miller for £216,000 ($352,500) including commission, compared with an estimate of £200,000/300,000. Miller, who had advised on the formation of the collection, said that prices for many of the artists had doubled since they were bought eleven years ago. However, six works by Peploe, Cadell, Hunter and McTaggart, all from the same collection and each estimated to bring six-figure sums, were not sold, with other dealers saying the estimates were too high.

The collection, therefore, fell short of its lower estimate of £2.6 million ($4.2 million) including the auctioneer’s commission. In the summer, Christie’s had offered a number of paintings by Scottish Colourists in London, but sold only one. “Bonhams did well,” said Miller, “but not well enough. The market is not quite there at the moment.”

Paintings from other sources contributed £1.2 million ($1.95 million) to the total and saw a romantic, Impressionist-style painting of children by the sea, Sea Gulls and Sapphire Seas, by Robert Gemmell Hutchinson sell for a record £120,000 ($195,900), compared with an estimate of £120,000/180,000.

The previous record for a series of Scottish sales by Bonhams in Edinburgh was £1.98 million ($2.3 million) in 2006.

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