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Rescue men puts Whyte's at the helm in autumn sale of Irish & British masters
Jack B Yeats, Rescue Men €60,000-€80,000.

DUBLIN.- Jack B. Yeats’ 1949 oil, Rescue Men, lot 32 (estimated €60,000-€80,000) adorns the cover of Whyte’s first catalogue of the new season – great exposure for a work which has not been seen publicly in over half a century. Purchased from the Victor Waddington Gallery in the year it was painted it has never been exhibited since. It depicts a group of men rowing in open water from an unusual viewpoint - inside the stern of the boat – a device which brings the viewer into the centre of the action. As in so many of Yeats’ later paintings, this work can be read as a metaphor for life. It looks back to the excitement of Yeats’ childhood in Sligo but it also refers to his ongoing struggles in adult life. Through its inventive use of colour and form Rescue Men leads one’s imagination and powers of perception into unanticipated waters. Jack Yeats is one of those Irish artists whose work has kept its value and appeals to many seeking a safe and attractive haven for their money.

The romance of the West as seen through Paul Henry’s very particular eye will attract collectors with two works; each catering to a different budget. The first, lot 41, Connemara Landscape, 1931, (estimated at €60,000-€80,000) is an emblematic oil displaying a reassuringly familiar reading of Connemara. Henry’s spiritual home was in the West and he settled for many years on Achill. This deep-rooted knowledge of the land breathes real life and authenticity into this luminous landscape which is housed in its original Combridge Gallery frame.

Professionally, Henry reputation was secure at this stage (1930s), his private life however, was less than stable. Lot 47, A Collection of Correspondence between Henry and his Lover, Mabel Young (estimated at €3,000-4,000) are testament to these tumultuous years and the troubled relationship with his first wife, Grace. The second oil, guided at the €3,000-4,000, from Mabel’s collection, is an early diminutive gem, Maritime, c.1910-15 (lot 46) also based on the West.

The largest watercolour by Percy French to appear in auction for the last twenty years, Parting Clouds over Bogland River, lot 60 (estimated at €15,000-20,000) has not been seen publicly since the 1930s. These exceptional proportions are likely to tempt discerning buyers of work by this well-known Roscommon artist.

Of topographical interest are two exceptionally rare views of County Wicklow by Thomas Sautelle Roberts (lots 83 & 84, estimated at €8,000 to €15,000 each). Consigned to Whyte’s from Australia, The Building of the Military Road, Wicklow and The Meeting of The Waters both date to 1802 and map the Vales of Avoca. Military Road captures the 3rd Earl of Hardwicke, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland on horseback. During his term (1801–1806) the Earl supported Catholic emancipation in Ireland.

A small collection of portrait sketches (lots 51-56) by John Butler Yeats, including one “rascally cat”, represent the artist’s compulsive recordings of those in his company. Given to Ernie O’Malley by Jack Yeats in the 1940s this collection is of both historic and artistic interest. Mayo born O’Malley (1897-1957) was a major figure in the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War as well as a pivotal figure in artistic circles and author of enduring accounts of Irish modern history. Temptingly estimated between €400-800 these portraits are certainly worth a bid.

Other notable collections include watercolours by Joseph William Carey (lots 61-75). This collection was exhibited at the Emer Gallery, Belfast in 2009 in a show dedicated to celebrating the artist’s life and career. These important examples comprise views of Northern Ireland and the West, including a rare contemporaneous view of the RMS Titanic, docked in Belfast and seen from the Holywood Golf Links; a desirable work considering the 100th anniversary of the vessel’s ill-fated voyage takes place next year (lot 61, estimated at €2,000-3,000).

Paintings from the collection of the family of Northern artist Daniel O’Neill show a range of subject matter and a diverse palette, each linked by his characteristically melancholic tone; among these the ethereal White Friar, lot 22, estimated to sell at €3,000-4,000. Another O’Neill, from a different seller, Ruth (lot 23, estimated at €25,000-€35,000) presents a biblical subject executed in a semi-surrealist manner. In 2006 this painting was valued at £80,000 so the present estimate represents a good buy for the collector.

Part I of a large selection of Markey Robinson paintings from the 1960s can be found in lots 150-159. Variously estimated between €1,000 and €5,000, these works were purchased from the Caldwell Gallery, Belfast by a single collector who was absorbed by the artist’s unique style. Subjects include Grey Abbey, Co. Down and its monastic ruins as well as his distinctive village and costal scenes with the ever-present shawlies! Markey became quite prolific in the 1970s to 1990s but these 1960s works are reasonably scarce so should attract the serious fans of his distinctive work.

Important works by contemporary artists include a small collection of hauntingly beautiful oils by Hughie O’Donoghue (lots 122-125, estimated from €3,000) and a sizeable early work, Clown Acting, 1961, by pioneering Irish female artist Camille Souter (lot 117, estimated at €8,000-€10,000). An ode to James Joyce by one of Ireland’s masters, Louis le Brocquy (b.1916), can be found in a delicate portrait in watercolour from 1990, lot 121 estimated at €18,000-22,000. Among the other names to look out for are James Arthur O’Connor, Walter Osborne, James Humbert Craig, Seán Keating, Harry Kernoff, Lawrence Stephen Lowry, William Conor, Cecil Maguire, Robert Ballagh, Basil Blackshaw, Donald Teskey, John Shinnors, Gladys Maccabe, Kenneth Webb and Rose Stapleton.

Finally, living history is offered in lots 1-7 by Michael Hanrahan who was the only artist officially accredited to the Royal Visit to Ireland earlier this year. Hanrahan produced a series of paintings mapping the immensely significant journey; one of which was accepted by the Queen into the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace and was the subject of a great deal of media attention. These historic and rare paintings, fit for a Queen but estimated for the masses, are estimated between €1,000 and €1,800.

whytes |

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