John William Godward’s approach has been referred to as that of a High Victorian Dreamer. A loyal follower of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and similarly inspired by classical civilization, particularly Ancient Rome, his works depict elegant women in classical dress, lounging against architectural features. His paintings are characterised by exquisite and meticulous detail. Godward carefully researched architecture and dress to make sure every detail in his painting was right.
We were delighted to present such a superb work by John William Godward to auction in May 2021. A piece with an esteemed provenance, Poppies was a highlight of our Five Centuries auction reaching a final selling price of £447,000*.
It led the selection of fine paintings collected by the late Dr Helen E C Cargill Thompson featuring in our Spring and Summer series of auctions.
Dr Helen E C Cargill Thompson (1933-2020) has been recognised for her contribution to both librarianship and the art world. Born in Burma in 1933, on the outbreak of World War II she returned to live in the West End of Glasgow aged 6, along with her parents and two brothers, and her love of art developed in the city’s Kelvingrove Galleries. Dr Cargill Thompson was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College and then read Physiology and Pharmacology at St Andrews University. She then went on to do a PhD at Edinburgh University which was research into the contraceptive pill. In 1970, Dr Cargill Thompson began work at the Andersonian Library at Strathclyde University, being appointed as the head of the library’s new Reference and Information Division in 1982. Close to retirement in 1999, she was awarded the Princess Royal Medal for services to the discipline.
Dr Cargill Thompson’s collecting and patronage was the family tradition. A well kent character in the West of Scotland, especially at exhibition opening and private views she lived frugally using public transport around the city and never viewed her passion for collecting art as a monetary investment. Dr Cargill Thompson was a truly public spirited Glaswegian, throughout her time at Strathclyde University she supported the Collins Gallery (closed 2013) and in 1999 she gifted her collection of contemporary art to the University and a portion of her Contemporary Silver collection to The Glasgow School of Art, of which the remainder has now been bequeathed.
The Cargill family history dates back to the 19th century. Her Great Grand Uncle David Syme Cargill (1826-1904) founded The Burma Oil Company in 1876 and the family held interests in the East India Trading Co. In the early 20th century two of his five children made a conscious effort to collect French Paintings, including works by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists. The collections of David W T Cargill (1872-1939) and his brother William Cargill (d.1962) were renowned and three Impressionist paintings from William’s collection are now on display in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery: a Corot, a Courbet and a Seurat. David’s collection was sold and proceeds were used to form The Cargill Fund.
Dr Cargill Thompson leaves her end of terrace home in the West End of Glasgow to the National Trust for Scotland. Largely untouched since it was designed and built in the Scots Renaissance style in c. 1906 by John Archibald Campbell the interior boasts the original Edwardian fixtures and fittings. The Dining Room walls are covered in crocodile skin wallpaper and panelled in Austrian oak that came from the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901.
We are delighted to continue offering a selection of items from Dr Cargill Thompson’s collections of which the proceeds will form an Education Endowment Trust in Dr Cargill Thompson’s name.
The first auctions of the season to include works from Dr Helen Cargill Thompson’s collection included our February 2021 auction of Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs and our March 2021 Jewellery, Watches & Silver and Paintings & Works on Paper sales. Results include hand-coloured lithographs of the Birman Empire by Joseph Moore selling for £6,000*, Avril Paton's Atholl Gardens - 1994 achieving £6,250* and a large collection of coins seeing £2,375*.
Works from Kenny Hunter and Neil MacPherson from the collection featured in our April 2021 Contemporary & Post-War Art auction. Study for 'The Apostle of the North', 1992 featuring the superb use of colour for which MacPherson is known and was exhibited in 1992 at the Compass Gallery in Glasgow during their Christmas Exhibition sold for £812*. Kenny Hunter's Monument to a Mouse, 2012, an editioned model of an original bronze sculpture, located at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ayrshire, which references the famous Burns poem To a Mouse achieved £1,625*.
Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickerin brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!
- Robert Burns
Charming bronzes from the Cargill Thompson estate by Shona Kinloch such as Dandelion Squirrel and Walking Pigeon were included in the Spring edition of our Design Since 1860 sale which took place live online in late April 2021. The auction also featured pieces by John Moncrieff, David Meredith and more.
Our May 2021 auction of African & Oceanic art, Antiquities and Natural History included a group of Inuit carving and sculpture primarily from Dorset Island.
Alongside Godward's Poppies, our May 2021 edition of Five Centuries: Furniture, Paintings & Works of Art also included furniture led by a pair of Mid-19th Century Anglo-Indian Ebony Armchairs that sold for £5,250* and a sculpture of Silenus with Infant Bacchus from the collection which achieved £3,250*.
We are proud to continue to present this wonderfully diverse group of pieces throughout our next season of auctions, including our greatly anticipated Scottish Works of Art sale, from Dr Helen E C Cargill Thompson’s collection of paintings, antiquarian books, silver and works of art.
Consignments invited until Thursday 8th July 2021