The Fate of Paintings

Me and the Chinese Ambassador

Artists want their artwork to find homes and be loved, For the art to become backdrops to lives and talking points. To be looked at and dreamt into. For owners to see what the artist saw and find inspiration and joy. This is the ideal, but after paintings leave the studio their fate is not always so straightforward. 

I love art history. I love documentaries about lost paintings that have been re-found or wrongly attributed or simply vanished without a trace to turn up on the other side of the world hundreds of years later and programmes about paintings still missing. It always seems quite shocking and the detective trails can be amazing. 

Washing up yesterday, mulling things over as you do, I could see, even in my career, how this happens. 

So far I have had one painting stolen from an exhibition at Perth Racecourse. It is now on the police stolen art register. 

A portrait, burned in a house fire. Weirdly only the face survived, which was, so I heard, thrown into the garden with all the other debris and then the burned remnant of the portrait was also stolen.

Another painting of elephants was also destroyed in a fire along with most of the other contents of the owners house. Scary stuff!

I heard that one painting, a painting of a big lion, came back onto the market and sold at a reputable contemporary art auctioneers under the wrong title. It sold as Three Flying Giraffes! How on earth did that happen? 

I know my artwork has reappeared in contemporary art auctions several times now.

I’ve heard that paintings have been the cause of bitter argument about ownership during divorce. Or given to now grown up children who want to take childhood memories with them into adulthood.

I heard about a collection of paintings that were lost in a house clearance after a death when the family just sold the contents without seeing what was in the house. 

One gifted painting sold on Ebay to raise money for Glencoe Mountain Rescue and several sold at charity auctions for Save the Rhino amongst other charities.  

Three paintings have been damaged in transit, one by the postal service, one by a helpful friend and one by me.  Paintings are definitely safest hanging on the wall! 

Two paintings were gifted by Edinburgh Zoo to the Chinese Government when the pandas arrived. I wonder if they are still hanging in the Consulate in Edinburgh and Embassy in London or are they now in China? I will probably never know!

No doubt there are other odd fates of paintings that I don’t know about and more paintings will gather stories into the future but hopefully most will still be treasured and enjoyed long after I am dead.

Being an artist, the only job where people talk about you dying and being successful!

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If you would like to come to my upcoming exhibition here in South Lanarkshire, please do email me to be put on the invitation list.

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