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Work by Angus artist James Watterson Herald goes for £55,000 at auction

Arbroath Harbour Dawn by James Herald. Supplied by Bonhams.
Arbroath Harbour Dawn by James Herald. Supplied by Bonhams.

Angus artist James Watterson Herald stole the show at a sale of Scottish art in Edinburgh.

Bidding on a selection of works by the Forfar shoemaker’s son soared at the Bonhams auction.

And it saw one Venice scene snapped up for 10 times its pre-sale estimate.

With buyers’ premiums added, 16 Watterson Herald works generated more than £55,000.

A Street Fair by James Watterson Herald sold for more than £12,000. Supplied by Bonhams.
A Street Fair by Watterson Herald sold for more than £12,000. Supplied by Bonhams.

An oil painting by Fife artist Jack Vettriano was another of the sale highlights.

The Waiter and the Wife topped its £20,000-£30,000 estimate to sell for £35,580.

But two other works by the former mining apprentice failed to reach their five-figure valuations.

They included Between Darkness and Dawn, which carried a pre-sale estimate of £50,000-£70,000.

Between Darkness and Dawn by Jack Vettriano. Supplied by Bonhams.
Between Darkness and Dawn by Jack Vettriano. Supplied by Bonhams.

Bonhams Scottish art specialist May Matthews said there was great interest around the Angus artist’s works.

“For us to see such a wonderful collection of Watterson Herald works in the first place was very exciting,” said May.

The collection was a labour of love built up over many years.

“Its owner really had a fantastic eye for what made a Watterson Herald.”

Watterson Herald's Travelling Show is said to depict Buffalo Bill's visit to Arbroath in 1904. Supplied by Bonhams.
Watterson Herald’s Travelling Show is said to depict Buffalo Bill’s visit to Arbroath in 1904. Supplied by Bonhams.

The selection made a remarkable start when the 1892 painting Venice gondoliers made £10,200 (including premium) against a pre-sale estimate of £800 – £1,200.

The top Herald lot was A Street Fair, painted in 1906, which sold for £12,750.

And there was keen bidding on two Arbroath scenes which brought a combined total of almost £5,500.

The sale saw strong interest in the auction room, by telephone and online.

After the Service, Arbroath. Supplied by Bonhams.
After the Service, Arbroath. Supplied by Bonhams.

“There really was something for everyone and we are absolutely thrilled with the result,” added Ms Matthews.

“Venice always has star quality, but local scenes of places like Arbroath also gave the collection strong appeal to many buyers.”

And she revealed fans of the artist will have another chance to bid for his works later this year.

“There will be a part two to the collection coming up in our sale in October,” she added.

“I have always felt Watterson Herald was an under-appreciated artist so it is great to see him getting the interest he deserves for the wonderful quality of his work.”

Early signs of artistic talent

Watterson Herald was born in Forfar in 1859 and went to the old West Burgh School and then Forfar Academy.

By the time he attended Dundee High School art classes, when he was 14, his talent was already shining through in sketches of customers at his father’s town shop.

He spent time in Edinburgh but returned to Angus in 1890.

A Forfar scene by Watterson Herald from the Angus Council collections. Pic: Gareth Jennings/DCT Media.
A Forfar scene by Watterson Herald from the Angus Council collections. Pic: Gareth Jennings/DCT Media.

Trademark themes included crowd and street scenes as well as the favoured spot of Arbroath harbour.

The artist died in 1914 and was celebrated in a home town exhibition at The Meffan museum and gallery this year.

Early Vettriano

Although two of the high-value Vettriano paintings failed to sell at the hammer, early works by the artist under his birth name of Jack Hoggan did well.

Fisher Folk topped an estimate of £5,000-7,000 to go for £10,200.

And In the Garden rocketed past its £6,000-£8,000 valuation and sold for £19,125, including premium.

The auction house said it is confident the other Vettriano artworks will find new owners post-sale.

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