Irish & International art worth €1M for auction in Dublin
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Irish & International art worth €1M for auction in Dublin
Paul Henry, A Sunny Day, Connemara, c.1940. Estimate: €150,000-€200,000.

DUBLIN.- On Monday 28 September 2020 a select collection of 131 lots of Irish & International art will be offered for auction at the RDS Dublin. Viewing takes place at the RDS, Friday to Monday 25 to 28 September from 10am to 6pm daily.

The highlight of the sale is a magnificent oil titled A Sunny Day, Connemara, c.1940 by Paul Henry (lot 18, estimate €150,000-€200,000). Considered the artist’s finest West of Ireland painting, it was chosen by Paul Henry to grace the cover of his 1951 autobiography, An Irish Portrait, and later in 2000, by Henry expert Dr SB Kennedy, for the cover of his Catalogue Raisonné. This work captures a glorious day and almost certainly represents Achill Island seen at the foot of Croagh Patrick with Leckanvy harbour at the centre right of the composition. In his foreword to Henry’s autobiography Seán Ó Faoláin describes the artist’s “long happy love story” with landscape, “…people say that he is always painting the same thing – clouds, blue mountains and black bogs. He is always, indeed, painting the same thing; always the one thing – light caught in a flux, a moment’s dazzling miracle. His pictures are amazingly mobile with this miracle of light. He is the least static painter I know. He never repeats himself. I am not fitted to speak of the technical skill that presents these subtle observations, but I feel that it must be immense. He is really an impressionist au fond.”

There is an extraordinary offering of works from Ireland’s leading ladies this autumn. Among them is Mary Swanzy’s Preparing The Meal, Samoa, c. 1919-25 (lot 47, €30,000-€50,000); it was one of the highlights of IMMA’s Swanzy retrospective ‘Voyages’ in 2019 in their ongoing Modern Irish Masters Series. Two other museum worthy paintings include Mainie Jellett’s Painting, 1930 (lot 44, €15,000-€20,000) a sizeable oil (30 by 36in) formerly in the collection of Supreme Court Judge James Creed Meredith, KC. This work was shown in Brussels in 1930 and at the artist’s retrospective in 1962. Their lesser spotted contemporary May Guinness features with San Malo From St. Servan, c.1925 (lot 46, €8,000-€12,000) shown at a solo exhibition of her work in Paris in 1925 and in 1999 at 'Peintres Irlandais en Bretagne' in the Museé de Pont-Aven and Crawford Gallery, Cork. Whyte’s achieved record auction prices in 2019 for both Jellett (€110,000) and Guinness (€34,000).

Norah McGuinness’ view of the home of Senator Edward McGuire - Newtownpark House, Blackrock, County Dublin, 1947, (lot 45, €15,000-€20,000) – is a testament to their working relationship in Brown Thomas, where McGuiness was window display artist and through Irish arts circles such as the IELA. Camille Souter, a living artist based in Achill, can be found in The Knockout, 1974 (Diptych) (lot 64, €10,000-€15,000). This work was shown in her 2001 retrospective.

The influence of European masters on some of the top lots in this sale is undeniable. Sir William Orpen’s The Beggar Girl (lot 23, €40,000-€60,000) was executed after the artist visited Madrid’s Prado with Hugh Lane on a buying mission for his Modern Art Gallery for Dublin. Seeing Goya, Velázquez and the Dutch Masters ‘in the flesh’ impressed on him heavily. The rich colours and buttery impasto of Roderic O’Conor’s, Fleurs Sur Une Chaise, 1919 (lot 20, €40,000-€60,000) oozes with Continental inspiration and was shown at the 'Salon d'Automne' in Paris in 1920. William John Leech’s oil - Rainy Day - Finistère Market, Concarneau, c.1904 (lot 19, €12,000-€18,000) shows weather akin to Ireland. Brittany was a well-worn route for French artists such as Gauguin as well as the Irish masters Nathaniel Hone, Walter Osborne and Sir John Lavery among others. Lavery’s Spanish painting Alameda de Hercules, Sevilla, 1892 (lot 24, €8,000-€12,000) radiates with Andalusian heat and has remained in the same family collection since the 1890s. The artist’s business card is kept safely in its envelope preserved on the reserve of the original frame.

The Picasso-esque Tinker Man, 1947 (lot 55, €30,000-€40,000) by Louis le Brocquy is a sophisticated drawing in carbon ink. The original owner was well-known Irish American art collector, Alan Breedon Malcolm Brush whose collection sold for a total of over $1m in 2007 and 2008 in North Carolina. Large walls need statements pieces such as Francis Bacon’s Triptych, 1983-84 (lot 63, €15,000-€20,000). Their crisp presentation and bold colour will make a striking addition to modern and period homes alike. Similarly, Liam Belton’s Two Bactrian Vessels with Pewter Flagon (lot 78, €8,000-€12,000) with its clean lines and monochrome palette will easily tie in with minimalist interiors. For those lacking sea views Donald Teskey’s powerful Coastal Report (lot 76, €12,000-€18,000) makes an inspired substitute.

Why not get creative with your collection! Whyte’s online catalogue offers the Art Virtualiser App so you can – using your smart phone – envisage how each picture will look to scale on your own wall. For those with plenty of space there is great value in larger canvases such as Margaret Corcoran’s (67 by 55in, inclusive of frame) Henriette - Delacroix’s Sister, 1998 (lot 79, €1,500-€2,000) or Graham Knuttel’s (72 by 48in.) Captain and His Wife on the Marie Celeste (lot 125, €4,000-€6,000).

The sculpture collection (lots 81–89 with guides from €600-€7,000) include names like John Behan, Rory Breslin, Patrick O’Reilly, Elizabeth O’Kane, Joseph Sloan, Michael Foley and others. The Breslin is one of his iconic masks, an early work, made while he was living in London. The O’Kane depicts the famous tenor Count John McCormack (lot 88, €5,000-€7,000). A larger castof this work was erected in the Iveagh Gardens, Dublin in 2008 situated in the corner beside the National Concert Hall. A hitherto unlocated stained-glass panel from the Studio of Harry Clarke (Our Lady of Lourdes, 1945, lot 42 €3,000-5,000) was an exciting consignment to the sale and reveals the upper portion of a design for a window in Wales. The lower panel sold - previously been on display at All Hallows College - through Mealy's (July 2015). A striking example by Clarke’s cousin - Maurice MacGonigal – showing the influence of stained-glass colouring - can be found in Red Coated Man, Connemara (lot 49, €10,000-€15,000) the catalogue essay by the artist’s son, Ciarán offers great insight.

Iconic Dublin scenes by Harry Kernoff (Grand Canal Lock, Dublin, 1935, lot 31, €10,000-€15,000) and a major example by Tom Carr (Ormond Quay, Dublin, lot 34 €10,000-€15,000) – shown at his retrospective in the capital in 1989 are worth keeping an eye on. An outstanding work on paper can be found in Jack Butler Yeats’ early watercolour Local and Travelling Champions, Devonshire, 1897 (lot 25 €15,000-€20,000) which has been widely exhibited since its inaugural showing the year it was painted. Other works of note include an early Sarah Henrietta Purser Theocrite [The Little Acolyte] 1886 (lot 21, €5,000-€7,000) and a pair of works by her contemporary - Margaret Allen – the first woman elected an honorary member of the RHA (lots 94 & lot 96, Happy as a King, 1876 €3,000-€5,000 shown at the RHA that year). An impressive array of five works by the late Cecil Maguire, from various junctures in his career open the sale (guides from €2,000 to €10,000). Eagle-eyed bidders will spot the Portrait of A Young Girl Seated by French Pierre Bonnaud (lot 95, €1,000-€1,500), previously in the collection of Jo Wood, former wife of The Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood as well as an artwork by the legendary musician Bob Dylan (Truck [The Drawn Blank Series] 2008, lot 123 €800-€1,200).

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