by Sotheby’s in 2008, more than 20 years after Scott’s death (1986). Scott was an eccentric aristocrat whose efforts to maintain a low profile meant that he was able to put together an extremely important collection of Victorian art at his Dower House, Northamptonshire residence in relative secrecy. Scott’s passion for art, the Victorian period in particular, is evident in a comment he made regarding one of the paintings in his collection. According to Scott:”I don’t think I have ever seen another picture by Somerville Shanks but if this is typical of his work I wonder why he is not better known, for it is really beautifully painted, the dress of the girl in the foreground is reminiscent of Sargent at his best and of course the whole picture is delightfully nostalgic, absolutely redolent as it were, of a day nursery of the 80s or 90s.” This comment is also evidence of how under-valued and under-appreciated the Victorian era is, particularly the work of Victorian painters.
The length of time that the paintings in the Scott collection had remained off the market made the sale even more enticing to collectors and connoisseurs who turned out in force to take advantage of the opportunity. “A Great British Collection” was the title given to the sale – a move that Sotheby’s hoped would distance the sale from the stigmas associated with the word “Victorian” and bring more people to the sale. At the time of the sale, in November 2008, the art market was still reeling from a major crisis of confidence brought about by the hyperinflated market for contemporary art, which led to many art market commentators making rather sceptical predictions about the sale. Because the market for Victorian paintings was dominated by a small number of passionate collectors and connoisseurs, there was particular concern when the auction took place due to the fact that the removal of even one of the main patrons of the Victorian era could spell disaster for the whole Victorian paintings market.
To be continued……
The Rise of Victorian Paintings Pt. 5 – artmarketblog.com
Prior to the Scott Sale, Grant Ford, Senior Director and Head of Victorian Art at Sotheby’s,made the comment that: “Sotheby’s is delighted to be bringing this extraordinary collection to the market. Victorian narrative works are the cornerstone of the collection and not in all my time at Sotheby’s – a period of 22 years – has a collection of this quality come on to the auction market. The Scotts were collectors in the truest sense; they had an individual and discerning taste and they only ever bought paintings that they truly loved and understood and which said something special to them. We look forward to exhibiting this wonderful collection around the world and are sure that the single-owner sale in November will be a real highlight of the Autumn sales calendar.”
Even though the odds were heavily stacked against Sotheby’s, the sale of the Scott collection was a major success for the