Upcoming Highlights – Peter Howson

Lots 518 and 519 in the second Scottish Contemporary Art Auction of 2019 will particularly excite Howson collectors.

A born-again Christian since 2000, Howson’s religious subject matter has proved to be exceptionally popular with collectors over the years and we are delighted to offer for sale two examples on Sunday 3rd March.

Study for Saint John Ogilvie (lot 518) is a masterful work in oils. His depiction of the martyred Scottish Catholic is raw, haunting and intense – the subject’s piercing eyes draw you in and is illustrative of Howson’s talent to capture the anguish and inner depths of his subject’s tortured soul.



Not only that, this painting in particular has important provenance. In 2008 the Roman Catholic Church commissioned Howson to create the largest crowd scene ever to be painted in Scotland. The end result was envisaged as a 27 by 10 foot depiction of the martyrdom of Saint John Ogilvie which would hang in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of St Andrew’s Cathedral. This was a huge project which saw Howson pushed to the brinks of financial and psychological ruin, so much so that the multi-figured work shrank to one fifth of its intended size and instead became a portrait of the saint standing alone at the gallows. The process was captured in a 2010 BBC television documentary, The Madness of Peter Howson which famously saw Howson destroy an entire nine months’ worth of work in a few seconds.

Lot 518 is a product of this commission and the momentous finished portrait can be viewed by clicking the link below.




In Biblical Head I (Jacob) (lot 519), Howson’s depiction of Jacob shows him as an elderly and worn figure. A complex man, Jacob’s life was characterised by struggles with his own family and God. Howson’s work is often semi-autobiographical, drawing parallels between his own life and his subjects – like the previous picture, lot 519 carries deeply personal and religious themes which should prove irresistible to Howson collectors.

These recent compositions show the artist’s in-depth knowledge of theology and present wonderful opportunities to own outstanding examples from a defining point in the artist’s career. Lots 518 and 519 are offered at estimates of £5000-8000 each.

Entries are currently invited for The Scottish Contemporary Art Auction, until Wednesday 13th February.

If you have paintings you wish to sell please contact pictures@mctears.co.uk

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