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Specialist Chris Brickley lamented his worst sale in years, where only 50 per cent of lots found buyers. “We’ve been blessed with a very resilient Scottish market to date and this was the first sign of buyers sitting on their hands,” he said. “The middle and lower range Scottish market was very difficult; it seemed to have fallen away overnight. There were lots of good things, so after a really good year I was disappointed.”

But it was not all doom and gloom and a picture that failed at James Adam in Dublin on May 29 became the most valuable picture ever sold at these Edinburgh rooms under either the Phillips or the Bonhams mantle. Between 1919-1924 Belfast-born Sir John Lavery RA (1856-1941) painted 15 views of the Golf Course, North Berwick. The 2ft by 2ft 6in (61 x 76cm) oil on canvas wasn’t in great condition with considerable cracking to the paint. On October 31 Christie’s Edinburgh sold a similar, slightly larger view at £110,000, but often these very similar views either fail to sell or just make their estimate. So Mr Brickley was thrilled when a a London dealer took this one at £118,000 against hopes of up to £100,000.

Staples such as Robert Gemmell Hutchison and Mary Armour failed to make an impact to the sale, but February Sunset by Joan Eardley RSA (1921-1963) sold well over-estimate. The heavy impasto 20 by 20in (51 x 51cm) image dated from 1963 and carried an estimate of £7000-10,000 but managed £24,000.