Early Scottish Football Pictures makes £266,000 at Bonhams

Football PaintingOne of the earliest known paintings depicting a football game made £266,250 when it went under the hammer at Bonhams in Edinburgh on the 25th August.

“The Village Ba’Game” c.1830 by Scottish artist Alexander Carse (c.1770 – 1843) was set to make an estimated £30,000 – 50,000 but very keen bidding took the price to unexpected levels. The painting was knocked down to a UK buyer in a three day sale of more than 1,000 items which made a total of £2m in the seventh `Made-in-Scotland sale held by Bonhams. Last year the sale achieved £1.37m.

This charming scene, which measures 99 x 125 cm (39 x 49 in), was probably first exhibited at the Scottish Royal Academy in 1830 as “The Foot-ball Play,” and is one of at least three Carse paintings of the game. Carse was one of a group of Scottish painters which included David Allan and Sir David Wilkie, who embraced the themes of the 17th century Dutch artists and depicted ‘the poetry of common life’ – simple social gatherings, village fairs, tavern scenes and sporting events.

Carse spent some time in the Scottish Borders and Berwickshire where he would have witnessed the commotion and ‘stramashes’ that engulfed a whole village when a football game took place. The painting captures the scene with a rugged naturalism and much humour, with a large number of villagers including children, clergymen and animals engaged in a kick-around, being cheered on by women and elderly spectators.

This painting was last purchased in Glasgow shortly after the Second World War, and has remained in the same family since then. This is the first time it has appeared at auction in over 50 years.

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