Vettriano works net £1m as bidders reject art 'snobbery'

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The Scottish painter Jack Vettriano defied his critics in the art establishment yesterday when a dozen of his works were sold at auction for close to £1m.

The Scottish painter Jack Vettriano defied his critics in the art establishment yesterday when a dozen of his works were sold at auction for close to £1m.

In total, the 12 works sold for £932,000, including buyers' premiums and VAT, at the Edinburgh-based auction house Lyon & Turnbull, with bidders from as far afield as South Africa, Australia and the United States.

The auction followed last month's record-breaking sale of Vettriano's The Singing Butler, which was bought for £744,800 at Hopetoun House in Edinburgh. Mad Dogs, the best known of the artist's works to go under the hammer, was sold to an unidentified telephone bidder for £168,787 yesterday, far outstripping its guide price of £40,000 to £60,000.

Tom Hewlett, the owner of the Portland Gallery in London and Vettriano's dealer, bought the last lot of the day, A Kind of Loving, for £100,000.

The 10 other paintings fetched between £15,000, for Model in Black, to £95,000 for In the Heat of The Day.

Nick Curnow, the managing director of Lyon & Turnbull, said that yesterday's sale proved the market for Vettrianos was still strong.

"I think people were concerned there might be a reaction against the price at Hopetoun and this showed that the market is more solid than it was given credit for. There were a lot of people who were bidding who were unsuccessful."

Mr Hewlett said A Kind Of Loving, which went on sale with a guide price of £50,000 to £70,000, would soon go on display at his gallery as part of a Vettriano retrospective.

"What makes Jack enduring is that his work speaks to a broad cross-section of people. A lot of people see in his work that narrative quality with which they can relate, and as a result his work crosses all sorts of different boundaries - social, political, national boundaries."

"People react to the picture and they don't have to be told by critics what they should be seeing. They see in the painting what they want to see and develop the painting themselves."

The Fife-born artist taught himself to paint after a girlfriend bought him a set of watercolour paints for his 21st birthday.

Posters of his works hang on walls up and down the country and his fans include the Hollywood actor Jack Nicholson and the Scottish writer A L Kennedy, but many in the art establishment have snubbed Vettriano for being too populist.

"I think it will be some time before we see Vettriano being shown at the Tate," said Anna Somers Cocks, editor-in-chief of The Art Newspaper. "His work is the equivalent of easy listening classics."

Rebecca Wilson, the editor of the Art Review, said that the sale would do little to boost Vettriano in the eyes of his detractors. "He's got a very loyal fan base. He appeals to a very particular male sensibility. His paintings fetch more money than any other Scottish artist, but it hasn't yet resulted in a modern art gallery taking him on. I don't particularly like the work. It hasn't moved beyond the Athena postcard. He hasn't evolved as an artist."

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