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During my time as an auctioneer I’ve had the pleasure of handling some truly exceptional paintings and it’s a challenge to pick a single highlight! However, I think the discovery of an important 16th century Old Master during a routine valuation in Scotland might have the edge.
Painted by the Bavarian artist Hans Wertinger, it is one of a series entitled Months of the Year, created between 1516 and 1525. As soon as I saw it I knew it was something special. Working with our Old Master specialist John Somerville and an expert in Germany we managed to unearth its extraordinary provenance. Originally commissioned by Duke Ludwig X of Bavaria, the piece then passed into the collection of King Charles II of Spain in the 18th century by descent through the Imperial Habsburg line.
The view of a jousting tournament in Landshut town square was thought to have been brought to Scotland by the esteemed collector Sir William Stirling-Maxwell in the mid-19th century. We orchestrated the return of this important piece to its home region. Wertinger’s depiction of 16th century Bavaria has now become part of the collection of the Bavarian state, accessioned by private treaty through the Bavarian Department of State-owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes. Interestingly, Summer from Wertinger’s series is in the collection of the British National Gallery.
The entire process - from the first excitement of the discovery to its happy conclusion - was a fantastic "once in a lifetime" experience.
Nick Curnow is the head of our Fine Art departments and joint Vice Chairman of the company. Specialising in Scottish Art, including the work of the Scottish Colourists, and British & European Paintings. With over thirty five years’ experience in the field he is one of the leading Fine Art specialists in the UK.
Nick has led Lyon & Turnbull through remarkable growth since he co-established the company in 1999, following his position as a mainboard director of Philips Auctioneers whom he joined in 1974. Lyon & Turnbull is now one of the UK’s leading auction houses, the largest outside London. With forty years’ experience in the field, he is a renowned authority on Scottish art, specialising in the work of the Scottish Colourists and Glasgow Boys.
Nick’s seniority within the firm and length of experience in the field are unmatched elsewhere. He has overseen the sale of multiple significant art collections, with highlights including the ‘white glove’ sale of the Drambuie Collection, which at the time established fifteen new sales records. Thanks to his extensive client network, Nick has also successfully brokered a number of significant private treaty sales to both private and public collections.
One of Nick’s favourite roles as a specialist is to guide his clients in the creation of quality art collections. He is also an experienced auctioneer, taking the major paintings sales throughout the year and also regularly gives talks on the state of the art market.
Nick graduated from The University of East Anglia with Honours in the History of Art, specialising in European painting 1840-1940.