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Painting of Robbie Coltrane by Peter Howson for Sotheby’s Auction

One of the Highlights of Sotheby’s forthcoming Scottish Sale, which will be staged in London on Wednesday, September 30, 2009, will be an outstanding and rare example of Peter Howson’s aggressive and bold style of painting with an overtly Scottish theme.

Peter HowsonIn addition to the evident tartan worn by members of the drummers’ parade and the traditional Scottish cap of the figure to the left of the composition, the painting portrays at its core, the much-loved Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane. Entitled Blind Leading the Blind III, the painting is estimated at £50,000-70,000.

Painted in 1991 and the third work in a ten-part series entitled Blind Leading the Blind I-X, Howson’s identification with Coltrane – and indeed his own sense of home – is significant. Life’s journey from adolescence and into adulthood was, at times, not an easy one for Howson and especially in his formative years he was well accustomed to bullying and violence. However, his periods of extreme struggle resulted in a single-minded creativity that was not constrained. The drummers’ parade was a motif that Howson repeated in later works such as The Lodge (1993), Drum (1995) and Nassau and Drum II (1998).

The scale of the Blind Leading the Blind series has an affinity with the Old Master paintings tradition, which adds an additional sense of gravity to the work. Howson dynamically combines elements taken from the work of Francisco Goya, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Otto Dix and Stanley Spencer in an image which is powerful in the extreme. Howson and other members of the New Glasgow Boys set out to make social statements in their art and to paint the power of brutality and reality in a way which achieves the great impact and enduring pathos evident in Blind Leading the Blind III.

Like Peter Howson, Robbie Coltrane attended Glasgow School of Art, majoring in drawing, painting and film. Coltrane then went on to study art at Edinburgh’s Moray House College of Education for a year.

Sotheby’s sale will also be highlighted by rare and important works by the Scottish Colourists, Anne Redpath, Joan Eardley, William McTaggart and Jack Vettriano.

image: Peter Howson, Blind Leading the Blind III, oil on canvas, estimate: £50,000-70,000. Photo: Sotheby’s