NEW YORK—Sotheby’s sale of Scottish and sporting pictures, held at the Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland, on August 26, took in £4.9 million ($9 million), down from the £5.24 million ($10.5 million) realized last August, (ANL, 9/18/07), when a group of paintings by Jack Vettriano dominated the high end of that auction and accounted for just over £1 million of the total.
Of 263 works on offer at this year’s sale, 143, or 54 percent, were sold, a decline from the 63 percent sold-by-lot rate achieved last year. Still, Sotheby’s claimed seven new auction records and said the sale, combined with the May auction in Edinburgh, brought the house’s annual total for Scottish art to almost £9 million, its best result to date in that category, according to senior director and head of Scottish pictures Andre Zlattinger.
Demand for the top works appeared measured, with several of the highest lots bringing prices below or mid-estimate. The highest price of the sale was £481,250 ($887,810) for John Lavery’s 1920 oil My Studio Door, Tangier (estimate: £400,000/600,000), followed by a record £301,250 ($555,746) for William Russell Flint’s oil on canvas Nicollet, depicting a nude woman lounging on a covered chair (estimate: £250,000/350,000). Although the £169,250 ($312,232) price achieved for Joan Eardley’s Beggars in Venice, 1949, was a record for the artist (1921–1963), the result—even with premium—fell well short of the estimate of £200,000/300,000. Sotheby’s noted that this exceeded the previous artist record of £60,000 achieved at last September’s sale, but the market was clearly resistant to this new price range.
On the upside, a double-sided work by Scottish Colourist Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (1888–1937) realized £301,250 ($555,746), far above the estimate of £120,000/180,000. John Duncan Fergusson’s The Rocky Glen, 1922, also sold above its high estimate (£90,000) for £127,250 ($234,751). Another artist record was the £205,250 ($378,645) given for John Charles Dollman’s Lord Roseberry, Admiral Fleming, the Duke of Buccleuch and Lord Charles Hope with Their Respective Caddies at North Berwick (estimate: £100,000/150,000).
Bidding was competitive for Vettriano’s retrospective sketch of The Singing Butler, the artist’s most famous image, executed for demonstration purposes at the University of St. Andrews in 1993 and given to the school as a gift afterward. It sold for £39,650 ($73,150) against an estimate of £15,000/20,000, with the proceeds earmarked for the school’s student charities campaign. (The painting itself was sold for a record £744,800, or $1.3 million, at Sotheby’s in 2004 [ANL, 4/27/04].) Another Vettriano painting, Narcissistic Bathers, sold for £97,250 ($179,407) against an estimate of £80,000/120,000.