Lyon & Turnbull – Scottish Paintings and Sculpture

The works in Lyon & Turnbull’s auction of Scottish paintings and sculpture set for Thursday 11th December had a kind of cosy, understated charm to them, nothing too pretentious or high priced, with familiar artists like friendly faces on the walls, and a few curiosities in the mix.

A stand-out work for me was probably David Gauld’s Head of a Girl [£10-15,000 estimate] the face of a young woman, mottled by the shadows of a leafy light-green background, looking out from the branches like a doe.

I am awaiting Lyon and Turnbull’s own pictures so apologies for the quality here:

Lyon & Turnbull artspress David Gauld

David Gauld’s Head of a Girl…Looking out of Lincoln Green….

The catalogue says it is one of a series of green portraits executed by the artist, showing the pre-Raphaelite influence.

Nearby Alyssa Popiel, author of A Capital View, a highly-regarded survey of works from the City Art Centre published earlier this year, was admiring the lively colours of Robert Gemmell Hutchison’s Lullaby [£10-15,000].

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It was one of four pieces by the artist, including the higher-priced Hallowe’en. There was also a good deal of favourable talk about the softly-shaded Still Life Red and Grey by Sir William Robert Gillies, occupying pride of place in the downstairs space.

William George Gillies Still Life Red and Grey artspress lyon & Turnbull

Still LIfe Red and Grey

Auctioner Nick Curnow was showing off Grey Day, Iona [£40-60,000]. It’s a familiar scene of rock, white sand, and sea – there’s a similar painting by FCB Cadell nearby, which may show part of the same Iona sea rock – but on the back has a picture of Peploe’s children, one of them with a cricket bat.

Lyon and Turnbull artspress SJ Peploe

Peploe verso

I’m still trying to work out what has happened to Colourist prices. They continue to score record prices (FCB Cadell’s Reflections for £686,000 in 2013] but the figures on these Iona views – including a double-sided piece like this – seem thoroughly modest. Then again it is the still lives by artists like Cadell that have rightly commanded the strongest prices.

The columnist Colin Gleadell noted a significant failure of Colourist lots in 2012 , but Christie’s lately set a new world auction record price for John Duncan Fergusson. His ‘lost’ painting Poise, unseen since 1918, had been valued with an £120,000 estimate but went for five times that at £638,500.

The L&T sale includes some attractive still, glassy landscapes by Sir David Young Cameron, and what were said to be early Redpaths, very little like her classic works with prices to reflect it. There was one particularly nice JD Fergusson drawing of a Woman in a Hat.

JD Fergusson artspress lyon & Turnbull

Woman in a Hat

Finally among the pictures a selection of works by World War I’s official war artist Sir Muirhead Bone. They included a towering chalk picture of King Pelayo’s Tomb, Covadonga, at what seemed a remarkable modest £5-800 – but maybe it’s the obscure place name. Covadonga is a village in Cangas de Onís, in the Asturias, in north western Spain. Beneath it was a simple but eye-catching self-portrait, at £1-1,500.

Muirhead Bone Lyon & Turnbull auction artspress

Muirhead Bone self-portrait

Of the items in the saleroom, it’s the jewellery made for the author Mary Stewart that has rightly commanded the attention (it goes under the hammer on the 10th.) It runs from the gawdy to the economic. Plenty of press attention, with the esteemed Phil Miller’s account here, should lead to some cheerful competition from her fans.

I’ve never heard her referred to as the Lady Mary before – she had few noble affectations that I knew of – she was better known as plain Mary Stewart, author of best-sellers like the Crystal Cave. One blogger grumps that the title should be Lady Stewart, as it came through her husband.

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