William York MacGregor Breaks Record at Roseberys London Fine Art Auction

London – The Scottish artist and landscape painter, William Yok MacGregor, hit a high note at Roseberys London 30 June Fine Art auction, when an oil on canvas entitled “Moonrise” broke the world auction record for a work by the artist.

William Yok MacGregor, "Moonrise" Oil on Canvas. Sold for: £9,840 - Roseberys London

William Yok MacGregor, “Moonrise” Oil on Canvas. Sold for: £9,840 – Roseberys London

Marcus Grey, Head of Paintings, Drawings and Prints said: “We are extremely pleased with the results from this auction across the board, and in particular for setting what we believe to be a new auction house record for the sale of a work by William York MacGregor. It was a strongly contested painting, and we are delighted to see previously lesser recognised artists achieving good prices at Roseberys London.”

Having studied at the Glasgow School of Art, and the Slade School of Fine Art, MacGregor became famous as a founder and co-leader of The Glasgow Boys, a group of influential artists including John Lavery, Joseph Crawhall, and MacGregor’s art school friend James Paterson. This group of artists were interpreting and expanding the canon of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting. Their subject matter featured rural, prosaic scenes from in and around Glasgow, and their depictions attempted to capture the many facets of the character of Scotland.

Having studied under the French artist Alphonse Legros at the Slade, York MacGregor would have been introduced to the Barbizon School of Naturalist painting in France, of which Julien Bastien-Lepage was a member. In the winter of 1882–3, MacGregor started work on a large-scale painting inspired by Bastien-Lepage. This large picture, entitled “The Vegetable Stall” is still considered to be one of the most significant realist paintings created in Scotland during the 1880s, and is housed in the National Galleries of Scotland.

Paterson and MacGregor are widely considered to be the fathers of The Glasgow Boys. Paterson’s “Moonrise, Moniaive”, in the collection of Lillie Art Gallery, East Dunbartonshire, shows how closely the two artists worked together, as the subject matter and interpretation of the scene are very similar. Paterson’s picture was painted in 1886 and this work by MacGregor could have been painted at a similar time, which would make it an important work for the artist at the height of his career. Although MacGregor’s landscapes have not historically been popular amongst collectors, “Moonrise” was fiercely sought after by two telephone bidders, eventually selling for £9,840. [Lot 627]

Work by the English artist Fred Yates has become increasingly popular in recent years, and the oil on board offered by Roseberys was a particularly special investment. Entitled “You Can’t Catch a Fairy on the Spot, Tal-y-Bont” the painting came complete with a letter from the artist to the vendor, explaining that Tal-y-Bont was a place Yates visited as child, and where he fabricated the fairy kingdom, which was replicated in this painting as an adult 45 years later.

The picture also came with a signed digital copy of the artwork from Yates, confirming that he was the artist of the work. The vendor has bought the item at auction, knowing it was by Yates, but had been unable to find a signature on the work. On the copy Yates writes to the vendor to tell them his signature is there, but it is hidden. This beautifully painted picture, with a fairy-tale story, sold to a private European collector for £6,765. [Lot 478]

A vibrant cushion by Grayson Perry RA which illustrates a small detail from his much larger 2009 work, “The Walthamstow Tapestry” was one of the less conventional pieces in the sale. The tapestry acts as a social commentary and documentation of modern consumerist lifestyles, from birth to death, and is a powerful representation of modern life, which leaves
the viewer to reflect on the messages Perry communicates. Gifted to the present owner by Perry, the unique and rare sample cushion sold on the telephone for £5,412 [Lot 499]

Modern sculpture also performed well, and was highlighted by an impressive bronze and patina sculpture by French sculptor, Germaine Richier, entitled “Le Petit Fou” or Baby Elephant. The work forms part of, “l’Echiquier”, a set of five bronze sculptures by the artist designed to represent the theme of chess and the use of chess pieces on a board, which together comprise the last great work by the artist before her death in 1959. The sculpture was offered from The Estate of the Late Mrs Eugene Rosenburg, the wife of one of the 20th century’s most pioneering architects, and it sold for £9,594. [Lot 704]

The auction was held on Tuesday 30 June 2015, and full results can be found online at www.roseberys.co.uk