AN IMPORTANT early painting by internationally acclaimed East Lothian artist John Bellany could fetch up to £50,000 when it goes under the hammer.

The work by the Port Seton artist, who died in 2013 at the age of 71, will headline an auction of contemporary art in Glasgow later this month.

Titled The Players, it is considered a pivotal piece in Bellany’s oeuvre, with experts at McTear’s auctioneers estimating that the painting could fetch at least £30,000 and up to £50,000 when it goes up for sale at the Scottish Contemporary Art Auction next Thursday (March 28).

Completed in 1967, the painting was created during a period when the artist was producing some of his most memorable works, as he embraced the cultural delights of London during his time at the Royal College of Art.

Measuring 1.83 metres by 1.61 metres, the work offers an insight into Bellany’s lifelong love of music, with the large oil on board featuring the artist himself playing alongside a long-haired musical companion.

East Lothian Courier: McTear's art specialist Makenzie Cool with John Bellany's The PlayersMcTear's art specialist Makenzie Cool with John Bellany's The Players

Magda Ketterer, McTear’s director, said: “These early pieces are amongst Bellany’s finest, with renowned London Evening Standard art critic Brian Sewell going as far as to compare the artist’s work during this period to Rembrandt.

“It is rare for these early oil on board works to come to auction and we are already seeing interest growing amongst potential bidders.”

In addition to The Players, the 245-lot auction will feature a further nine Bellany works, including the large oil on canvas The Portrait of Albert Irvin RA, painted in 1987 and estimated at £8,000 to £12,000.

Irvin, a renowned abstract-impressionist, was a close friend of the Bellany family and frequently socialised with John.

Collector demand has never been higher for the work of Bellany, whose reputation continues to grow.

In 2022, The Finnon Smoker sold for £80,000 at McTear’s, while Bass Rock Fable achieved a price of £12,000 in the same auction.

The artist’s works appear in the collections of a number of celebrities and many prestigious art galleries across the globe, including Tate Britain, the Scottish National Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also in New York.

Go to for more information on the Scottish Contemporary Art Auction.