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‘Honeyman’ Wedding Gift With Echoes Of Dali And Van Gogh Set To Make Five Figure Sum At Bonhams

A stunning picture by the noted Scottish painter William McTaggart – once owned by the renowned Glasgow curator and collector TJ Honeyman – could make £15,000 at Bonhams’ Spring Sale of 19th Century Pictures and Prints on 16 April 2008 in Edinburgh.

Honeyman’s daughter Elizabeth, a farmer of Aberdeen Angus cattle, dropped off a package – wrapped in heavy-duty brown paper and orange baler twine – at the rural post office where the vendor worked in the mid 1970s, with the words: “I hear you are interested in art”. The vendor set the unpromising looking parcel aside and forgot about it until he returned home later and was thrilled to unwrap McTaggart’s oil painting ‘Hope’s Whisper’.

Depicting a Kintyre family watching a ship sail away off the Machrihanish coast, the painting is a classic example by one of Britain’s most significant landscape painters. It is signed by the artist and dated ‘1890’.

Bonhams’ Head of Pictures in Scotland, Chris Brickley, says: “This gem-like picture is one of the finest of its type that I have seen – classic McTaggart. The provenance is fantastic and I would expect serious interest in a market-fresh painting of this quality.”

Honeyman was the celebrated curator of Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow in the first half of the 20th century. He coined the term ‘Scottish Colourists’ and secured the friendship of Salvador Dali by recommending that Glasgow Corporation buy his masterpiece ‘St John of the Cross’, the best-known picture in the collection.

The provenance of ‘Hope’s Whisper’ is further enhanced by the fact that it appears to have been owned by renowned Glasgow art dealer Alexander Reid, who had shared a flat with Vincent Van Gogh.