DUBLIN.- Whytes foremost auction of Important Irish Art takes place at the RDS from 19 to 21 May with viewing at the RDS Ballsbridge. According to Ian Whyte it is one of the most valuable sales his firm have hosted in recent years with superior examples on offer from Irelands master artists.
THE COMPLETE SET OF TÁIN TAPESTRIES
The late Louis le Brocquys series of twenty Aubusson tapestries based on the Ulster epic, The Táin, will be auctioned for the first time ever this month. It is possibly the only complete set from a limited edition of 9 in private hands and is estimated at 250,000 to 300,000. It is impossible to imagine The Táin differently, that is the power of these iconic images which the artist called shadows thrown by the text. The tapestries translate the artists vision from written word to textured, sensual three dimensional experiences of a Pre-historic Ireland. The scale of these tapestries elevates this modestly sized story to epic portions and highlights its central place in Irish culture. The tapestries were last seen at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in 2003, when they were acquired under the Heritage Tax Scheme. It is profoundly moving to see them together in these weeks after the artists passing. Le Brocquys hand reaches out through them.
Also by le Brocquy in this sale is his earliest watercolour head of Samuel Beckett dating to 1965. The artist was delighted, on a visit to Whytes a few years ago, to see it for the first time since 1971. It is offered as lot 43 and is guiding 25,000 - 35,000. Other examples from his oeuvre include a charcoal of W.B. Yeats, two watercolours from the 1990s and a number of lithographs which range in estimate from 800 to 20,000.
THE JIM ODRISCOLL SC COLLECTION
A further selection from the collection of renowned Cork collector, the late Jim ODriscoll SC a major portion of which raised 500,000 at Whytes in May 2010 - is offered in this sale. ODriscoll was a friend and patron of most of the contemporary artists he collected regularly buying directly from them or having first choice from their exhibitions. His importance as An Advocate for Art was recognised by IMMA in their tribute exhibition to him in July 2010. Among the works for auction are Patrick Collins [lot 6] Druids Moon, 1981 estimated 14,000- 16,000, three outstanding Tony OMalleys including Pedro Barba Isla Graciosa [lot 21] estimated at 20,000- 30,000 shown in IMMA in 2010 and William Croziers The River in the Wood, [lot 16], 10,000- 15,000. A sizeable John Shinnors Mayo Moon, Black Scarecrow and Badger which shown at the RHA (1996) guides 12,000- 15,000 while a striking Francis Bacon lithograph Study for Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1989 and Juan Mirós Composition with Green Background, 1950 are sure to garner international attention. They guide 6,000-8,000 and 2,000- 3,000 respectively.
JACK B. YEATS THE PONTOON, 1947
In Yeats The Pontoon [lot 63]we see the artist depict a familiar docklands scene and simultaneously tackle the theme of old age; a topic that was in the forefront of his mind when he painted this work (aged 70). The work shows a young man waiting expectantly on the edge of the floating platform; likely to be on the River Liffey. An older figure sits despondent at the side of the structure indifferent to what the waters might bring. The abstracted forms and restricted palette invite further inspection by the viewer. It is characteristic of the artist in his later years in both subject and form and is expected to fetch between 50,000 to 70,000.
A REPATRIATED KEATING
Interestingly, Seán Keatings Past Definite, Future Perfect, 1928 [lot 69] estimated at 25,000-35,000, also demonstrates his own reflections on the passing of time. The quiet interaction between an elderly lady and a young woman over a card game draws in the viewer and quietly asks them to consider the wisdom of old age and appreciate the optimism of youth. This painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1928, purchased there and remained in England until now.
Leading the Northern highlights is a superior oil by Paul Henry Evening Achill [lot 70] estimated at 90,000-120,000. This work is gentle and luminous. It captures a quintessential view of the West which Henry has hallmarked. It was during the artists mature phase of his career c. 1930 to 1938 and is museum worthy in terms of quality.
A sign of the times is a Northern Ireland corporate collection offered on behalf of the liquidator including superb works by Sir John Lavery, Paul Henry, William Conor, Frank McKelvey, James Humbert Craig and Maurice Canning Wilks. Being that it is a buyers market estimates are incredibly attractive and will offer todays collector excellent value for money. Two examples by Paul Henry from this collection offer buyers an example from both ends of the price point. Cottage, West of Ireland [lot 76] a large oil guides 60,000- 80,000 while a smaller example Maam Valley, Connemara [lot 79] is estimated at 20,000- 25,000. Frank McKelveys radiant Swans on the Lagan [lot 82] estimated at 20,000-25,000. It was shown at the RHA in 1945 and is a dazzling example of McKelveys depiction of light. Lot 94 by Lavery is equally masterful and shows the exotic Soko of White City of Tangier, where the artist visited several times throughout his career. Guiding 20,000-25,000 this is a relatively modest price for Irelands answer to Impressionism. With Joycean reverence Conors Dockers [lot 66] examines the life led by workers in the Docklands in Ireland during the tumultuous 1920s. The Belfast artist is celebrated for his depictions for the working classes in his native city but a prominent tricolour in the background in this example hints at a possible Dublin scene. This example is estimated at 25,000-35,000.
THE GRACE HENRY COLLECTION LOTS 109-132
From the collection of one of Grace Henrys staunch supporters, Dr. James Cruickshank, comes a collection which trace the artists career from her early years on Achill when she was married to Paul Henry through to her status as an independent female artist following their separation in the 1930s. Her poetic reading of her subject is what she has been celebrated for and this is evident particularly in Horse Drinking At Pond In Achill [lot 109] estimated at 3,000-4,000 and Floods, Ennis, County Clare [lot 112] estimated at 3,000-5,000. The collection comprises landscapes, still life and figure studies and are variously estimated from 800 to 5,000.
ALSO INCLUDED IN THE AUCTION
James Humbert Craig, Letitia Hamilton, William Leech, Daniel ONeill and Gerard Dillon among others. Contemporary names such as Camille Souter, Alice Maher, Robert Ballagh, Patrick Scott, Charles Tyrrell, Sean Scully, Kenneth Webb, Pauline Bewick, Markey Robinson, Neil Shawcross, Ciarán Lennon, Graham Knuttel and Gladys Maccabe are sure to attract bidders.