£1.2 Million Irish & International Art To Be Sold On 9 March
DUBLIN.- When the hammer fell at €1.4 millon for Yeats’ painting Reverie (Ernie O’Malley Collection, 25 November 2019) it broke the world record for the artist. Several other records were broken last year for sales of Irish art with Whyte’s. This inaugural sale of the new decade presents collectors with a new opportunity to acquire master works by Ireland’s most celebrated artists.
On Monday 9 March 2020 two hundred lots of Irish & International art will be offered for auction at the RDS Dublin. Viewing takes place at the RDS, Saturday to Monday 7-9 March from 10am to 6pm daily.
The top lot by value is a striking oil titled Rusty Gates, 1948 by Jack B. Yeats (lot 25, estimate €100,000-€150,000). Typical of his later work, in both execution and palette, it depicts two elderly gents walking along a high stone wall and standing before a gateway. The figures are expertly sculpted out of thick impasto pigment of orange, pink and blue and framed by a cascade of buttery strokes of paint. The setting and the mountain in the distance are reminiscent of County Wicklow and the Sugar Loaf, an area that Yeats, who lived in Greystones for several years, knew well. An earlier watercolour by Yeats dated c.1910 depicts a farmyard scene in Greystones (lot 24, €25,000-€35,000). Yeats left Devon in July 1910, to settle in Greystones at Cartref (meaning ‘home’ in Welsh), a detached two storey house built c.1850. In the autumn of 1917, Yeats and his wife moved to Marlborough Road, in Donnybrook, Dublin.
POLISH MASTERPIECE EXHIBITED AT ROSC ‘67
In 1967 the first ROSC exhibition took place in Dublin at the Royal Dublin Society. The present work by Tadeusz Brzozowski (Polish, 1918-1987) titled Mastiff (Cwajnos), 1967 returns to the RDS 53 years later and goes under the hammer as lot 63, €80,000-€100,000. ROSC ‘67 comprised fifty of the ‘best’ living artists of the time. These included Francis Bacon, Willem De Kooning, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso. Controversially, no Irish artists were included. The painting was unveiled to Irish audiences on 13 November 1967 by then Minister for Finance, Charles Haughey and offered Irish audiences a taste of modern art from around the globe.
Louis le Brocquy – a friend of Francis Bacon – might have easily slotted into the ROSC ’67 show. Today he is considered one of the most important names in Irish art. A number of works by le Brocquy feature in the auction including two portraits of International literary giants, a charcoal of James Joyce (lot 49, €5,000€7,000) and a watercolour of Samuel Beckett (lot 50, €15,000-€20,000) A still life in oil, Orange, 1972 (lot 58) guides €30,000-€50,000).
For those with a more modest budget, limited edition prints from le Brocquy’s Táin and Seven Aquatints series are included as well as a rare early lithograph drawn through carbon paper titled Child with Doll [Hommage À Jankel Adler] 1949 (lot 48, €3,000-€5,000).
Among the other contemporary artists to be auctioned are Tony O’Malley with an Irish scene painted in the distinctive Bahamian palette, Mayo Summer, A Walk by Moore’s Lake, 1990 (lot 81, €15,000-€20,000). Large oils by John Shinnors – Sculptor’s Scarecrows (lot 82) and Coastal Report II (lot 83) by Donald Teskey each command €10,000-€15,000 while an Aubusson tapestry by Pat Scott from the 1970s can be found in lot 68, €6,000-€8,000.
THE BELFAST BOYS – Henry & Lavery
The sentimental draw of Paul Henry continues to drive prices for his paintings. Admirers of his work have been captivated by his unpopulated landscapes since the early decades of the 1900s. Lot 15 – The Bog Road, c.1917-23, estimated €50,000-€70,000 – is sure to attract keen bidding. Painted on a coarse grey canvas the atmospheric scene displays all the elements one would expect from “a Henry”: the dominant, thick, cumulous clouds, the inviting pathway dotted with turf stacks and the blue hills beyond. Twice exhibited, in the 1940s with Combridge’s and, later, in the 1990s at the Oriel Gallery Dublin. The exhibition catalogue for the latter accompanies the lot. Two Achill scenes by Henry’s first wife, Grace, can be found in lots 13 & 14, guides €2,000-€4,000.
The confident brushwork of Sir John Lavery can be seen in lots 16 & 17 in particular. The Hon. Mrs Burrell, 1903 (lot 17, €12,000-€18,000) shows the spontaneous fluid strokes typical of the smaller scale portraits he presented as gifts to his female sitters. Kenneth McConkey, Lavery expert, describes, “The product of glimpse, rather than gaze – it has an immediacy that appealed to the subject on a more personal level than the full or three-quarter length demanded by her husband”. Lot 16 (€5,000-€7,000) is a charming work capturing two cigarette girls in Seville dressed in colourful costume. It was formerly in the collection of Lavery’s granddaughter, Mrs Diana Blackwood.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION
There is a Parisian feel to Daniel O’Neill’s Stage Girls, lot 34 €30,000-€50,000. The hair bow, high-necked lace collar, and striped silk blouse of the blonde woman recalls late-nineteenth century fashions, perhaps more akin to Degas’s ballet girls than the chorus girls of O’Neill’s own time: the artist stayed in the French capital in 1948 for around six months, immersing himself in the riches of the city’s museums and galleries. The stillness of both figures’ expressions adds a solemn air to the painting, but highlights O’Neill’s skill in creating a sense of mystery in his work. This is probably one of the strongest examples of his female portraits to appear at auction in recent years. Fine examples by O’Neill’s contemporaries: Gerard Dillon, Colin Middleton and George Campbell all feature in this sale. A French interior scene Reclining Woman, c.1910 by Roderic O’Conor (lot 26, €15,000-€20,000) shows a clothed and reclining female model in an interior and is revealing of those Expressionist skills which were such a strong feature of his Brittany seascapes. He painted this work early in the twentieth century in the rue du Cherche-Midi in the Montparnasse quartier of Paris, where he took a studio with living quarters.
WORKS OF HISTORICAL INTEREST
Lot 98, The Embarkation of King George IV At Kingstown (Now Dún Laoghaire) 1821 by William Sadler II guides €12,000-€18,000 and is full of minute detail recording the historic visit of the British monarch. The king’s brief stay in Ireland was perceived to have been a success – despite George’s best efforts. He had arrived famously drunk and suspicions persisted that the main purpose of his trip was to spend time with his mistress, Lady Conyngham, at Slane Castle. In this work Sadler manages to convey both the goodwill that was, in general, shown to the king but also the tensions which underpinned the visit. There is a noticeable contrast between the surging crowd of Dubliners and the serried ranks of soldiers who prevent them getting too close to the action.
THE CHILDREN OF OLIVER ST JOHN GOGARTY
Lots 18, 19 & 23 come from the estate of the granddaughter of Oliver St. John Gogarty the Irish poet, author, surgeon, athlete, politician, and well-known conversationalist. He was a onetime friend of James Joyce and served as the inspiration for Buck Mulligan in Joyce’s novel Ulysses. Gogarty had three children, Oliver Duane Odysseus Gogarty (known as “Noll”), Dermot and Brenda. A portrait in oil of all three siblings at Renvyle, Connemara by English artist Gerald Leslie Brockhurst was painted in 1916 and “slashed” by the IRA during the Civil War. Two exquisite watercolours by Brockhurst of “Noll” (lot 18, €5,000-€7,000) and Brenda (right, lot 19, €3,000-€5,000) in this sale likely date to the same period. Lot 23 (€2,000-€3,000) is a bust of Gogarty’s granddaughter, Clare, by his daughter Brenda Gogarty (later Williams). Lot 23 includes a fascinating archival collection of photographs, correspondence with Jack B. Yeats and press clippings relating to this lesser known sculptress.