Christie’s sale of Scottish Pictures on 1 November showed that if the rooms can produce top quality works the demand is there. This sale was a triumphant 86% sold by lot, 92% by value and totalled £3.08 million, the highest ever total for a Scottish sale. The room was packed and according to a Christie’s spokesman the “six or seven richest men in Scotland were present, which added a very competitive element” there was also strong international bidding. The top lot, a ravishing Peploe still-life, “The black bottle”, was finally knocked down to American dealer Megan Moynihan on behalf of a client for £520,750, making it a world record for the artist.
This sale had received a great deal of extra publicity due to the inclusion of 100 paintings from the collection of the Fleming merchant bank. These are works mainly recalled from overseas offices which will be surplus to requirement when the Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation opens its new gallery in Berkeley Street in London next January (see p.7). The Fleming contribution totalled £818,861 and there was strong bidding from former members of the bank anxious to buy back works which had hung in their offices for years. A fairly dull Peploe from the Fleming Collection, a sketchy oil of some trees made £50,000—way over its £12,000-18,000 estimate.
As expected, the Colourists flew away, with Richard Green paying the second top price of £229,250, for a Peploe still-life of “Pink roses in a Japanese vase”. There was, however, strong demand right across the board from the 19th-century through to contemporary pieces. “Tantallan Castle”, a moody romantic seascape by Alexander Nasmyth made a world record for the artist at £58,750 and contemporary artists like Joan Eardley, Sir Robin Philipson and John Boyd all made very strong prices. Two large compositions of children playing by the Victorian artist William Stewart MacGeorge, proved to be the only real disappointments, both failing to find a buyer.
The Scottish Sale, Christie’s
Sold by lot 86%
Sold by value 92%
Total £3.308 million
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Best ever Scottish sale'