If you’re a regular at the six-weekly Scottish Contemporary Art Auction then you will be well acquainted with the confrontational and often controversial work of leading figural painter and New Glasgow Boy, Peter Howson (b 1958). But however well acquainted one might be, sometimes a piece can leave you speechless, which is certainly the effect lot 572 in Sunday’s auction has had on many of our staff!
Painted in 1999, The Crucifixion depicts artist and model Elaine Johnston tied to a cross, naked with a crown of thorns around her head. The pair shared an intimate relationship for many years, with Howson stating to be ‘captivated’ by her and citing her as the ‘perfect’ model. Throughout their relationship he continued to use her in a number of nude studies and oil paintings, such as lot 701 in Sunday’s sale (estimate £500-800) and lot 801 from the April auction (hammer £500).
Like much of Howson’s output, this is certainly set to divide opinions. When first exhibited, Cardinal Winning was said to have referred the work as ‘evil’, shocked by the blasphemy, and Howson himself acknowledged the pornographic and blasphemous nature of the painting. Standing at a height of 182cm x 121cm, this is an imposing piece if not just for the imagery!
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The Crucifixion will be offered on Sunday 26th May at an auction estimate of £15,000 – 25,000.