A splendid watercolour of a pheasant in flight by the celebrated Scottish ornithological artist Archibald Thorburn heads Bonhams Sporting Sale in Edinburgh on 21 June. It is estimated at £20,000-30,000.
Flying Pheasant has a fascinating history. It was owned by Sir Crawford McCullagh, a prominent Ulster politician and the first man to suggest holding a period of silence to commemorate soldiers who had died in the First World War. As the Lord Mayor of Belfast from 1914-17, McCullagh called for a five minute silence for the men of the 36th (Ulster) Division who had died in their thousands at the Battle of Somme on 1 July 1916. The familiar Two Minute Silence was first held at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1919 so that, in the worlds of George V "in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead."
Also included in the sale is Thorburn's Stone Curlew and Red legged Partridge (est £5,000-7,000).
Thorburn's paintings of birds are enduringly popular and in recent years have realised high prices at auction. A new world record for the artist was established at Bonhams in July 2011 when his magnificent Peacock and Peacock Butterfly fetched £252,000.
The Sporting Sale is an annual auction of all things to do with sporting life and features paintings, prints, fishing equipment and books among other collectible objects.