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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Sotheby’s to Auction Scottish Skating Scene Painting by Charles Lees

Sotheby’s London is to auction Skaters, A Scene on Duddingston Loch near Edinburgh by Scottish artist Charles Lees (1800?1880) in its sale of Victorian and Edwardian Art on Tuesday, 17 May 2011. Estimated at £100,000?200,000, the painting will make its first known appearance at auction since it was painted in 1853, and comes to the market from a Private Scottish Collection.

Skaters, A Scene on Duddingston Loch near Edinburgh by Charles Lees (est. £100,000-200,000. Photo: Sotheby’s.

The subject of skaters would come to define Lee’s career and the present work is distinguished as the artist’s first ? and principle ? treatment of figures enjoying the winter activity. When the painting was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1854, it was rapturously received by public and critics alike. The Art Journal extolled it as a work “of the highest character in almost every desirable quality of Art”. The picture’s success can be measured by the numerous works with a similar theme that followed in rapid succession.

The central figure of an elegant gentleman, moving confidently on the ice, cuts a dash amid the falling children and flailing adults. It is possible that he and his graceful companions belonged to Edinburgh Skating Club, a society dedicated to figure skating who regularly met at Duddingston. Comprised of local professionals and landed gentry, the club would put those eager to join through a rigorous test of skill before allowing entry into their esteemed company. Applicants were expected to perform a figure of eight, on alternate feet no less, and then jump over a series of hats placed on the ice.

Founded in the 1740s, the club was the earliest institution of its type in the world, and strongly associated with Raeburn’s iconic portrait, The Revd. Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch. Lees was a pupil of Raeburn whose influence and inspiration is clearly evident in both the style and subject of the present work.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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