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Issue 13 - 'Singing butler' set to go for a song

Scotland Magazine Issue 13
March 2004


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'Singing butler' set to go for a song

A news round up from the Scottish art and antiques world, by Kate Ennis

Demand for the work of controversial artist Jack Vettriano has been so great in recent times that last year alone, top auctioneers Sotheby’s broke the auction record for the artist no less than three times.

One of these record breakers was a small study for Vettriano’s most iconic image – The Singing Butler (pictured), which sold for £89,000 ($162,000) during Sotheby’s Scottish sale at Gleneagles last August.

So with the news that the full size original version of this signature Vettriano piece – the only one in existence – is to be auctioned by Sotheby’s at Hopetoun House on April 19th, there is great excitement that auction history will be made again for Scotland’s most successful contemporary artist.

Andre Slattinger, head of Scottish paintings at Sotheby’s is confident the painting will attract unprecedented interest and has estimated the piece at £150,000 – £200,000 ($273,000 – $365,000) – a price tag which is double that held by the current record. At this phenomenal price, the sale could possibly see some celebrity bidders with the likes of Jack Nicholson and renowned composer Tim Rice known collectors.

There will also be a range of other Vettriano pieces from his early paintings in their characteristic romantic style, through to his later paintings demonstrating a more provocative realism.

Although largely shunned by the art establishment, Vettriano has been received by the market with enormous enthusiasm and his work is attracting new buyers too. The sale of his most famous image is a real coup for Sotheby’s and can only secure their position as market leaders in Scottish painting sales.

The work of other 20th century Scottish artists, particularly the Colourists, is continuing to perform well at auction. The Hopetoun house sale in April will also see a Peploe still life and a striking painting of Iona by Francis Cadell go under the hammer.