Bellany’s ‘The Players’ Takes Centre Stage At Art Auction

A large and important early painting by internationally acclaimed Scottish artist, John Bellany (1942-2013), will headline an auction of contemporary art in Glasgow later this month.

The Players is considered a pivotal piece in Bellany’s oeuvre, with experts at McTear’s estimating the painting could fetch £30,000 to £50,000 when it goes under the hammer at The Scottish Contemporary Art Auction on 28th March.

Completed in 1967, the painting was created during a period where the Port Seton artist was producing some of his most memorable works as he embraced the cultural delights of London during his time at the Royal College of Art.

Measuring an impressive 1.83 metres by 1.61 metres, the work offers an insight into Bellany’s life-long love of music, with the large oil on board featuring the artist himself as he plays alongside a long haired musical companion.

Commenting on the auction McTear’s Director, Magda Ketterer, said: “These early pieces are amongst Bellany’s finest, with renowned London Evening Standard art critic, Brian Sewell, going as far as to compare the artist’s work during this period to Rembrandt. It is rare for these early oil on board works to come to auction and we are already seeing interest growing amongst potential bidders.”

In addition to the Players, the 245 lot auction will feature a further nine Bellany works, including the large oil on canvas, The Portrait of Albert Irvin RA, painted in 1987 and estimated at £8,000 to £12,000.  Irvin, a renowned abstract-impressionist, was a close friend of the Bellany family and frequently socialised with John, who at this time was drinking heavily.  As Irvin later noted: "to go out with John meant you were going to lose two days of your life."

Collector demand has never been higher for the work of John Bellany.  In 2022 "The Finnon Smoker" sold for £80,000 (hammer) at McTear’s, while The Bass Rock Fable, achieved a hammer of £12,000 in the same auction.  The artist’s works appear in the collections of a number of celebrities and many prestigious art galleries across the globe, including the Tate Gallery, National Gallery of Scotland, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The Scottish Contemporary Art Auction will take place at McTear’s on Thursday 28th March. 


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