‘History of golf’ art to be auctioned

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 21, 2012 12:41

‘History of golf’ art to be auctioned

The world’s leading art business is to auction what it says is the most important collection of golf art in history.

Christie’s is to put up for sale the collection of Jaime Ortiz Patiño, the founder of Valderrama Golf Club, who has, over the past 25 years, built up rare and valuable treasures charting the history of golf.

“This historic collection represents the history of the sport, including its most notable personalities, from its earliest references in the 15th century to a programme for the inaugural Masters tournament in 1934,” said a spokesman for Christie’s.

“Presenting an unprecedented selection of historic clubs, balls, paintings, ceramics and books, the collection will offer approximately 300 lots and is expected to realise in excess of £2 million.

“This collection charts and celebrates the history and development of the game, and includes golf clubs and balls used by some true champions, including Allan Robertson, Old Tom Morris, Young Tom Morris and Willie Park Snr. who, between them, won 12 Open Championships.”

The collection includes the preparatory oil sketch for the most famous painting in the history of golf, The Golfers, which now hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

A portrait of John Whyte-Melville, who features in The Golfers, and who was referred to by the members of The Royal and Ancient as ‘the father of the club’, will also be offered at the sale. Executed by Sir Francis Grant, P.R.A., a smaller version of the painting hangs in The Royal and Ancient clubhouse in St. Andrews.

Another painting to be auctioned is The Golf Course, North Berwick by Sir John Lavery, R.S.A., R.H.A., R.A., which will be offered with an estimate of £200,000 to £300,000. This painting is from a series of works the artist painted at the Scottish golf course in 1921 and 1922, another example of which is on display at Tate Britain.

Golf clubs up for sale include the Morris Putter, the Wemyss spur-toe light iron, a 17th century club formerly owned the 5th Earl of Wemyss, a founding member of St Andrews, and the Royal Perth Putter.

The auction will also offer a comprehensive range of 17th century Featherie golf balls and the 19th century gutta percha ball, and a rare depiction of the game of golf on Chinese porcelain.

The origins of golf are subject to frequent discussion and sometimes dispute,” added the spokesman.

“A number of early games which used a ball and a club are referenced in history including Jeu de Mail, an Italian game where a player had to loft a ball through various hoops, and Kolf, which was played in Holland and which used heavy clubs and larger balls than we know today.

“There is no dispute that golf was played on the east coast of Scotland in the 15th century where the public land beside the sea was used by anyone with a club and ball. The looming threat of English invasion in 1457 saw King James II declare a Scottish Act of Parliament discouraging the playing of ‘gouff’ as it was interfering with archery practice; there are records of King James IV having bought clubs and balls from a bowmaker in Perth in 1502; and Mary Queen of Scots was famously reproached for playing golf in the grounds of Seton House so soon after the death of her husband, Lord Darnley, in 1567.

“According to tradition, Scottish exiles played golf at Blackheath, outside London, in 1608 when James VI of Scotland ascended to the English throne.

“The first official rules of golf were written in 1744 by the Company of Gentlemen Golfers, later renamed The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, who now play at Muirfield in East Lothian. In 1800 there were only seven golf clubs or golfing societies recorded. By 1850 that figure had grown to 17.

“It was not until the second half of the 19th century that golf developed into the modern format that we know today. The founding fathers of the modern game included Allan Robertson, the Park family, the Morris family and Hugh Philp. Many of the earliest pioneers were course professionals who made clubs and balls, tended the course and would play for money in exhibition matches that became a popular spectator sport.

“The first Open Championship was played at Prestwick in 1860. The following decades saw interest in the sport grow internationally and exponentially. In 1864, Westward Ho! became only the second golf course in England. By 1880, golf courses could be found in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. By 1910, there were over 250 golf clubs in the USA, and nearly 1,000 in England. Today, there are estimated to be over 30,000 golf courses in the world, with over 50 million people playing The Royal and Ancient game.

“Golf has a rich history and this unique collection charts much of it.”

Highlights from the collection are currently on display in New York and can be viewed in Dubai and Hong Kong throughout April, and the whole collection will be on display in London in May, which is where the auction will take place on May 30. For more information, visit www.christies.com or call +44 (0) 20 7839 9060.

Seamus Rotherick
By Seamus Rotherick March 21, 2012 12:41
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1 Comment

  1. (@AlDunsmuir) (@AlDunsmuir) March 21, 14:25

    Christie’s is to auction the ‘history of golf’ – a collection of art, balls and clubs worth millions, in London in May http://t.co/DDePIm76

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