In anticipation of the 07 February Paintings & Works on Paper auction, members of the Lyon & Turnbull team have selected a few of their favourite pictures to share from the sale. Read on to learn more about the pieces they would love to hang on their walls...
On a hot June day this past summer, I found myself in St Andrews, Fife, hauling my 12-week old daughter in her pram up part of the Fife Coastal Path to a caravan park overlooking the beach. We were pursued by my friend and her active five year old: two women and two children pulling themselves up a hill from the town, shopping in arms, enjoying the sun but also battling through the breeze! It looked a lot like John McGhie’s painting, only about 100 years later.
In my mind, McGhie’s figures are mother and child, making their way along the same path in the sun and wind. McGhie has captured the perennial Fife coastal breeze in the wake of the waves, the grass shaking gently and the woman’s skirt billowing to the side. (It should be noted that walking the Fife Coastal Path in a full length skirt seems almost unimaginable today!)
Rocks are peeking out of the sea, while the small town, or village, sits on the distant cliff with the local Kirk proudly taking prime position. There is no doubt that this is Fife, and the Fife coast on a sunny day is a wonderful place to be (even if you do have to lug the shopping up the hill!)
- Cathy Marsden, Assistant Head of Department, Rare Books
Having just visited the display of William Hunter Littlejohn’s work at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, which runs until 12 February, I would love to have his 'Fish, Dragonfly and Mirror – Oval' screenprint on my wall. Littlejohn trained at Dundee College of Art and rose to become Head of Fine Art at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen. He is part of the generation of Scottish artists who came to the fore after World War Two and is particularly celebrated for his works on paper.
This lot shows Littlejohn’s delicacy of hand and eye when layering objects, textures and colour. The elements in the complicated composition are caught in motion, most within the oval which creates a ‘picture within a picture’, whilst others float in, out, beyond and above the picture plane. It is so rich in detail that it would be a pleasure to look at time after time. If I was outbid I would try for his 'Fish and Shrine' watercolour, also in the sale!
- Alice Strang, Senior Specialist, Modern & Contemporary Art
‘It is time now to speak of the long walk through the old parts of Edinburgh where Miss Brodie took her set, dressed in their deep violet coats and black velour hats with the green and white crest, one Friday in March when the school’s central heating system had broken down and everyone else had been muffled up and sent home’
Tirzah Ravilious’s engraving dates from some thirty years before Muriel Spark’s novel, but her crocodile of schoolgirls could well be the Brodie Set. The image captures half a dozen private moments and the persistent threat of distraction from higher concerns, while the tragic antiheroine looms enigmatically at the rear.
- Dominic Somerville-Brown, Specialist, Rare Books
Today Hugh Buchanan is celebrated for his watercolour paintings of Georgian buildings and interiors from around his native Edinburgh, which use intense light and shadow to accentuate neoclassical architectural detailing. I’m rather drawn to these two early oils by Buchanan, which have an appealing Italianate flavour and demonstrate the artist’s longstanding commitment to classical architectural motifs.
Both are monumental at around 1.5 metres tall, and whether hung individually or as companion pieces, would make a striking centrepiece.
- Chantal de Prez, Head of Sale
The bowls of the title are obvious in the foreground but the flowers in the centre become increasingly abstract, their subdued tones blending into the unexpected addition of a face. Is it a doll arranged in the still life or is it a reflection in a mirror or a girl peering out from a room beyond? Who knows, but I love how the image draws you in. There is something slightly unsettling about this work which intrigues me.
- Sophie Dixon, Rare Books Administrator
William Beattie-Brown’s painting reminds me of the walks that my parents used to take me on as a child. I can easily imagine myself sitting upon one of the rocks, stopping for a snack, as I stare into the distance to look upon the striking view of the hills.
I ask my parents ‘How much farther do we have to go?’
‘It’s just around the corner’ they reply, as we continue to make our way upwards.
I especially love the way that Beattie-Brown paints the hills, the detail in which he has taken, and the colours he has chosen to create a depth to the scene and bring it to life.
- Charlotte Cockburn, Fine Art Department Administrator
CHANTAL DE PREZ | HEAD OF SALE