Triumph for Reclusive Scottish Painter at Bonhams Scottish Sale in Edinburgh

Edinburgh – Works by the reclusive Scottish Victorian artist James Herald (1859-1914) far exceeded their estimates to sell for a combined total of £54,312 at Bonhams Scottish Art sale in Edinburgh on Wednesday 18 May. Among the highlights were A street Fair which sold for £12,750 (estimate £6,000-8,000) and Venice Gondoliers which sold for £10,200 (estimate: £800-1,200). The Herald works were part of a significant private collection of Scottish paintings which made more than £100,000.

May Matthews, Bonhams Head of Scottish Art, said: "I am delighted that this under-appreciated artist found such favour with collectors. Herald's work displays a wonderful touch and an exciting palette. The top selling painting, A Street Fair, was a great example of his style and the colours had remained remarkably fresh since they were first applied in 1906."

Other highlights of the sale included:

The Waiter and The Wife by Jack Vettriano (born 1951). This is a particularly significant work for the artist. Executed in 1992 it was exhibited at The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London. He wrote to the buyer of 'The Waiter and The Wife' to thank them for their purchase and invite them to his forthcoming exhibition a few months later, which he promised "should be exciting!". Sold for £35,580.
Still life with Ranunculus, Francis Cadell (1883-1937). Sold for £31,800 to benefit the work of Médecins Sans Frontières in Australia.
Red Grouse by Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935). Sold for £22,950.

James Herald

Born in Forfar in 1859, Herald spent much of his life in Arbroath (with sojourns in Edinburgh and London). He painted mainly in watercolours and pastels and enjoyed considerable financial success early in his career. After his return to Arbroath from London in 1901, however, he became increasingly reclusive and for the rest of his life was content to earn no more than a living from his art, often giving away his paintings or exchanging them for drink or meals. His lack of interest in money did not, however, prevent him from enjoying critical success and his 1910 one-man show in London was much praised. Two of the works were bought and presented to the British Museum with a third going to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

23 May 2022

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