Fine crop of masterpieces

Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 01:00

Adam’s rolls out the big guns – Paul Henry and Jack B Yeats – for the first big sale of autumn, that includes paintings owned by Independent News Media

TWO OF THE BIGGEST names in Irish art, Paul Henry and Jack B Yeats, dominate the catalogue for the first major art auction of the Dublin autumn season at Adam’s next week. Five significant oils by each artist are among the highlights likely to bring in the crowds when viewing gets under way tomorrow.

The five paintings by Yeats fall into the (relatively) affordable category, with estimates ranging from €25,000-€35,000 for Houses on the Bridge Road, a 1945 painting depicting an unidentified view “probably of a Dublin scene”; up to €70,000-€100,000 for The Boat Builder, a 1923 Connemara scene depicting a man seated in a traditional súgán chair watching two men building a boat.

A little “entry-level” Paul Henry, The Wild Sea, measuring about 15cm by 22cm, is estimated at €15,000-€20,000. But the top lot by this artist is The Bog at Evening, measuring 76cm by 91 cm and estimated at €150,000-€250,000, which Adam’s claims “shows Henry at the height of his powers”.

Also noteworthy, and on the market for the first time, is a major painting by Seán Keating titled The Port Authority, which shows a busy scene as turf is unloaded from boats at a harbour in the Aran Islands. The estimate is also €150,000-€250,000.

Limerick-born Keating, who died in 1977, is best-known for his paintings of combatants in the War of Independence and is currently the subject of two major exhibitions – one at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork, the other at the RHA in Dublin. The highest price ever paid for one of his paintings was achieved in 2005 when Adam’s sold his Men of Aran – An Trá, Inis Oirr for €190,000.

Among the more affordable works in the sale, and well worth a look, are Heat by Patrick Hennessy (€4,000-€6,000); Still Life with Donatello Angel by Carey Clarke (€4,000-€6,000); a splendid Victorian painting titled Come Awa by George Washington Brownlow (€10,000-€15,000); and Hallway Green by Gemma Guihan (€1,500-€2,500).

While most of the paintings in the sale come from various anonymous private collectors, Adam’s is also selling the corporate art collection owned by newspaper group Independent News Media.

The mainly Irish paintings from the 1980s and 1990s used to hang in Independent House in Middle Abbey Street, Dublin 1, but were deemed unsuitable for the company’s new Dublin headquarters in Talbot Street.

The pictures are to be sold off individually at what Adam’s said were “affordable prices, with most valued at under €10,000”.

However, there is one significant exception. Procession With Lilies, by Louis le Brocquy who died in April, is the sale’s most valuable lot with an estimate of €250,000-€300,000. The outcome will be keenly watched by owners of le Brocquy’s work.

In May, in the first big test of market sentiment following his death, a painting titled Indoors, Outdoors, made by le Brocquy in 1951, failed to sell. The estimate was €500,000-€800,000 but bidding stalled at €440,000.