Looking back on 2020, it has been a challenging year for all of us - demanding rapid adaptation, flexibility and development in all facets of our lives. Striving to meet and exceed expectations, our team has worked diligently throughout the year in order to adapt our services to our new working and living reality. One of the first auction houses in the UK to hold live online auctions, our new socially distanced, digital lives were first realised in Managing Director, Gavin Strang's heroic 12 hour stint auctioneering solo to remote phone bidders and online platforms in our very first live online sale of Decorative Arts in April.
Endeavouring to create an increasingly engaging online experience for our clients, we were also delighted to introduce virtual tours this year in order to allow everyone to enjoy the wonderful works of art included in our auctions from the comfort of home.
This year saw a European Auction Record set for a first edition copy of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling at £125,000*. One of the few first edition, first impression hardbacks of the first Harry Potter book, this copy was inscribed and signed by J.K. Rowling and sold during our Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs auction which took place live online from our Edinburgh saleroom in June.
In October, we were delighted to present The Contents of Beal House, a fine Grade II listed manor house near the small village of Thornton-le-Street, which achieved an outstanding £912,000; doubling the estimate of £300,00 to £500,000. Our Autumn sale of The Contents of Beal House achieved a fantastic selling rate of 98% with over 2,080 bidders joining the sale online from around the globe.
Taking place during the Asian Art in London week this November, our Fine Asian Works of Art auction saw several impressive results from bidders around the globe with an ink scroll painting by Ming artist, Shi Tao, achieving £204,000* and a Kangxi Period Doucai 'Chicken' Cup selling for £100,000*.
Our November sales saw further impressive results, with Decorative Arts: Design since 1860 seeing an important Charles Rennie Mackintosh cabinet achieve £250,000* and a rare early work by Frances Macdonald McNair sell for £125,000*. The bedside cabinet by Mackintosh, the pair to another in the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, was made c.1916 for the industrialist Wenman Joseph Bassett Lowke (1877-1953) whose house 78 Derngate, Northampton was remodelled and furnished in the modern taste. At 78 Derngate, Mackintosh’s style evolved to focus on broad planes of polished and waxed timber enhanced by abalone inlay.
Our 2020 move to live online auctions ended with a series of exceptional results. Our specialist Whisky & Wine sale achieved a 100% sold rate while our highly anticipated flagship Scottish Paintings & Sculpture auction totalled over a million pounds with a 90% selling rate. Demonstrating the best of 19th and 20th century Scottish art, the sale attracted the registration of over 650 international bidders.
A private collection of watercolours by Sir William Russell Flint (1880-1969) offered as a stand-alone catalogue included some of the finest works by the artist to be offered at auction for some time. The Silver Frock, the quintessential Russell Flint watercolour of favourite model Cecilia Green in a taffeta dress, sold at £32,500*, leading the Flint section of the sale.
Two Colourist works – painted at important moments in the careers of Samuel John Peploe (1871-1935) and George Leslie Hunter (1877-1931) – also proved popular with bidders. Sold at £62,500, Peploe’s Interior with Girl in White can be dated with some good deal of accuracy to c.1905-09 when the artist was enjoying his first one-man shows. George Leslie Hunter’s transition from solid, traditional painter to a colour-obsessed member of the avant-garde occurred in the years between 1906, when he returned from earthquake-devastated San Francisco to his native Glasgow, and the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. His 19 x 48cm oil on board depicting figures on a beach sold for £23,750*.
We were also delighted to welcome several new members to our team this year, growing our specialist expertise with Senior Specialist, Joy McCall who will be leading our new Lalique auctions; Head of Watches, Sarah Fergusson; and Specialist in Ceramics and Glass, Katherine Wright. We look forward to bringing you another exciting line up of art, antique, jewellery and specialist auctions in 2021!
We are delighted to welcome the new year with an exciting line up of Modern and Contemporary Art. This January, we will be kicking off the auction year with Modern Scotland: A Private Collection of Scottish Art on Wednesday, 20th January followed by Contemporary & Post-War Art ft. The Ski Sale on Wednesday, 27th January.
Operating since 1826, Lyon & Turnbull are one of the longest established fine art and antiques auction houses in the United Kingdom. We hold approximately 35 auctions per annum, including specialist categories such as Scottish paintings, British & European paintings, Asian works of art, jewellery, silver, antiques, books, furniture and contemporary art and design.