Whytes first sale of 2012 showcases the very best in Irish and British art within a market that has blossomed following the successes of last years sales. With over 270 examples by some of the most renowned names in the industry this sale offers a fantastic opportunity for collectors old and new to add to their collection at a time when works remain keenly priced.
SEDUCED BY A PRE-RAPHAELITE MASTER WITH A DICKENSIAN CONNECTION
Rarely seen in Ireland and never before offered at auction here, Charles Edward Perugini, the Italian born British artist, makes his first appearance in Ireland at Whytes gracing the front cover of the auction catalogue with LOVERS IN A GARDEN, lot 43 estimated at 50,000-70,000. Perugini, born Carlo in Naples, studied art in Paris and Italy where he met Lord Frederick Leighton under whose tutorage he submitted to the Royal Academy. Associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Leighton had a profound influence on Perugini. Like his mentor, he adopted a fondness for art of the Early Renaissance and Medieval Age which advocated a moral message, a truthful depiction of nature and an acute attention to detail, all qualities that were in stark contrast to art produced by the majority of their contemporaries in an era of mass industrialisation. Perugini married Charles Dickens daughter, Kate, in 1873. She was an artist and muse to members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. It is possible that the lovers depicted in Lovers in a Garden are an idealised portrayal of husband and wife, the figure of the man with his distinctly Italianate colouring and aquiline nose point to a possible self-portrait while images of Kate are comparable to the present child-bride. Exquisitely painted, the lovers are captured in a moment of quiet intimacy seated on a stone bench and framed by roses and foliage. Radiating with classical charm this work is sure to enchant bidders on 12 March.
YEATS COMMENT ON THE SELF-IMPORTANCE OF THE LEGAL ESTABLISHMENT
Coming from legal stock it is understandable that Jack B. Yeats would have had a keen interest in the courts and legal pursuits in Ireland. Several of his early sketchbooks show images of rural trials and the courts also feature in some of his favourite novels and plays. Lot 29, ON THE COURTHOUSE STEPS, 1946 estimated at 90,000-120,000 was made in a remarkably prolific year and, like many of his later oils, was undoubtedly inspired by memories from the past. The painting shows a vagrant resting on the steps of Naas courthouse, Co. Kildare. His stick and bundle of belongings are beside him and his casual appearance is in marked contrast to the classical formality of the building which is typical of the grand-style architecture of Irish court houses. These were designed to project a sense of authority on to the surrounding streets and their inhabitants, although this is not evident in Yeats picture. Here the figures in the scene take centre stage, the reclining traveller and to the right a child who emerges running from the shadows pulling her tiny companion in a go-cart behind. All three figures evoke the idea of free spirits at either ends of their imaginative lives. A strutting cockerel on the steps of the court house adds to the sense of the pastoral. It may also be a humorous allusion to the self-importance of the legal establishment and the official role of the court house.
FROM THE SERIES THAT LAUNCHED BALLAGHS CAREER
Had it not been for his series of People Looking at Paintings Ballagh may not have broken into the international art arena when he did. In 1972 he was down on his luck with cancelled shows in New York and no money coming in. On Cecil Kings advice he travelled to the Basel Art Fair and it was there he was approached by the Parisian Galerie des Quatre Mouvements who bought a collection from this series for £2,500. His luck changed. Following this he was invited to exhibit at an array of galleries one of the first being a group show, Portrayal or Betrayal at the Nicholas Treadwell Gallery in London. Lot 12 MAN WITH A MAGRITTE, 1973 estimated at 25,000-35,000, was Ballaghs answer to portraiture in an era where the genre was seen as aesthetically redundant. It depicts the ebullient gallery owner, Treadwell, donning a white suit and standing in front of a window of shattered glass; a pastiche of Magrittes work of the 1930s. The result was Ballaghs answer to Moderism and audiences loved it. The shattered glass became a recurring motif used in portraits of the Miami Show Band, 1970 and recently Pat Finucane, 2006. The series itself ended in 1975 but its importance cannot be underestimated. MAN WITH A MAGRITTE is a fundamental artwork and key to any collection that prides itself in tracking the growth of modern art in Ireland.
Colin Middleton and Daniel ONeill shine once more this spring; the first with an early work from 1940. Lot 23 SYCAMORES, estimated at 15,000-20,000 shows Middleton at the start of his career when he began to absorb trends on the Continent and experiment with different styles. Van Goghs influence is particularly noticeable in this work in the treatment of the sky, the daubed application of paint and soft palette. It was an exciting time for Middleton and this early example is one of the few works which marks the early period of his career. Daniel ONeill is represented in the sale by three examples, two in oil and one watercolour each showing a different aspect of his treatment of the landscape genre. FIGURE ON A SHORE, lot 24 estimated at 15,000-20,000 is a surreal take on an Irish costal scene. The landscape is almost post-apocalyptic and the ever-present brooding female figure is shown reclining in the foreground inviting the viewer into the scene. BOATS IN FALCARRAGH, COUNTY DONEGAL, lot 28 12,000-15,000 is similar in its palette and eerie rendering of the environment but here the only sign of human presence is in the ramshackle boats in the foreground and the eerily still village beyond. The watercolour, simply titled LANDSCAPE, is gentler than the oils and was originally in the collection of art connoisseur Zoltan Lewinter Frankl; lot 26, estimated at 1,800-2,200 this work would be an ideal purchase for those starting an art collection and looking for big names at a more affordable price.
ALL THE SINGLE LADIES
Sarah Purser, Grace Henry and Norah McGuinness are some of the great female artists represented in this sale. Each is am example of a pioneering woman who stepped out of their given role to carve their own groove in the art world as independent women. Pursers WOMAN WITH A FAN, lot 42 estimated at 8,000-10,000, is a striking portrait in oil which demonstrates her skills in the genre. The ladys style is of the time and the delicacy of her clothes and features are picked up expertly by Pursers hand. Grace Henry is represented with two works, COMING HOME, ACHILL ISLAND [THE WATER IS CALLED THE SOUND], c.1915, lot 41 estimated at 2,500-3,500 and LAC DANNECY, THE ALPS, c.1930s, lot 25 estimated at 2,000-3,000. The earlier work shows her reading of the West; quite different to that of her estranged husband. The second is the edgier work, painted in the 1930s when she was separated from Paul. It shows a bolder more personal style. Norah McGuinness BARLEY MOON, lot 22 estimated at 10,000-15,000, was exhibited in 1964 and is as impressive now as it was then. A large scale oil it has a distinct theatricality to it, the moon acts like a spotlight within the painting and floods the foreground revealing her wonderfully luminous creamy brushstrokes. A delight for the eyes, this work was probably painted from the artists home in the Dublin Mountains looking down to Dublin Bay.
From the estate of Ernest Columba Hayes comes a rare insight into one of the lesser known figures in the Royal Hibernian Academy. The collection comprises lots 84 to 114 with estimates ranging from a couple of hundred euro for oils, watercolours, drawings and sketches.
A rare portrait of HARRY KERNOFFS BROTHER, HERMAN FROM 1925, lot 32 estimated at 2,500-3,500, leads a collection of ephemera including personal photographs, books, sketches and woodcuts that shed light on the Kernoff family life and affairs.
For those with an interest in the exotic there is a collection of watercolours by Henry George Gandy DSO OBE (1879-1950). Painted between 1924 and 1928 during which time Gandy was serving as a Lieutenant Colonel with the Royal Engineers in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). These delicate works serve as records of cultures and ways of life which have now changed almost beyond recognition. The popularity and quality of his artwork was demonstrated by the fact that his scenes of Hong Kong, China and Singapore were reproduced in books and also on postcards by the famous publishers Raphael Tuck. Lots 68 to 83 and estimated between 300 and 1,000 these rarities are bound to attract attention from home and abroad.
OLD AND NEW MASTERS
Some other artists within the sale which will delight collectors include works by Percy French, Frank McKelvey, James Humbert Craig, William Conor, Charles Lamb, James le Jeune, Patrick Hennessy, Markey Robinson, Neil Shawcross, Brian Ballard, Graham Knuttel, Mark ONeill, Michael Hanrahan, Thomas Ryan, John Shinnors, Donald Teskey, Kenneth Webb and Gladys Maccabe and sculpture from Edward Delaney.
Viewing for this auction will be at the RDS Clyde Hall, off Anglesea Road, Ballsbridge from Saturday to Monday, 10 to 12 March 10am to 6pm daily. The auction will take place in the same venue on Monday 12 March at 6pm, and will be broadcast live at www.whytes.ie