MUCH in demand, the stock of the four Scottish Colourist painters has never been higher but the work of one of them, Leslie Hunter (1877-1931), has always been overshadowed by his three Fellow Colourists, Peploe, Cadell and Fergusson.
Considered brilliant, but 80 years after his death still misunderstood, Hunter’s reputation and market status could be reassessed with a new biography and a major exhibition of over 70 of his paintings, mostly from private collections.
The exhibition ‘Leslie Hunter: A Life in Colour’ runs at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh from July 21 to October 14 and then at The Fleming Collection, the embassy for Scottish art in London, from October 23 to February 9 next year.
The exhibition covers Hunter’s colourful but often tragic life in San Francisco, Scotland, France and Italy and shows why Samuel Peploe said that Hunter’s best pictures were as good as Matisse.
All agree his output was erratic, reflecting ill health and such misfortune as, on the eve of his first solo exhibition, the destruction of all his work in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
But Hunter was dedicated, and while his output was not as consistent and approachable as his three contemporaries it is debatable as to why he lags so far behind them.
In May a Peploe still life of a coffee pot made a record £937,250 (with premium) at Christie’s in London while at auction Hunter at his best has made little more than a third of that.
The exhibition and book will make the market look more closely at Leslie Hunter and I am sure London’s top dealers in the field, The Fine Art Society, Duncan Miller and Richard Green, will keep a close eye on developments.
The Fine Art Society in Bond Street are the eminent Scottish Colourist dealers and their managing director and Scottish paintings expert Patrick Bourne told me: “At his best Hunter is wonderful, but compared to the other three his work is uneven. But a well-curated exhibition and well-illustrated book is bound to have some positive market effect.”
‘Hunter Revisited; The Life & Art of Leslie Hunter’ by Bill Smith and Jill Marriner is published by Atelier Books (an imprint of The Fine Art Society) at £40.
Hunter had many setbacks, but in the early 1930s his reputation was growing and he remarked: “I have been kicking at the door so long and at last it is beginning to open.”
Sadly, he died in December 1931, but perhaps by the end of this year the door will have opened a little wider.
Leslie Hunter exhibition at the City Art Centre —YouTube video