Whyte's showcases Irish and British art

Still life: above left, Nature Morte by Roderic O'Conor (€30,000-€40,000); top, English Peasant Chopping Swedes by Aloysius O'Kelly (€6,000-€8,000); above, detail of Friend or Foe? by Charles Burton Barber (€25,000-€35,000), all at Whyte's Irish British Art auction

Still life: above left, Nature Morte by Roderic O'Conor (€30,000-€40,000); top, English Peasant Chopping Swedes by Aloysius O'Kelly (€6,000-€8,000); above, detail of Friend or Foe? by Charles Burton Barber (€25,000-€35,000), all at Whyte's Irish British Art auction

Sat, Mar 2, 2013, 00:00

Two countries divided by a common language? A painting in Whyte’s forthcoming art auction titled English Peasant Chopping Swedes might, if the subject were Irish, be called Small Farmer Snagging Turnips.

Surprisingly, the painting (€6,000- €8,000) is by an Irish artist, Aloysius O’Kelly (1853-1936), and the painting’s title is explained in the catalogue as “a barb from a committed Irish revolutionary”. O’Kelly spent much of his life in London, Paris, Brittany and New York.

This oil-on-canvas work, measuring 69cm by 51cm, is one of a number of pictures in Whyte’s British and Irish Art Sale being sold by Belfast art collectors Mervyn and Pat Solomon.

The Solomons are also disposing of a batch of oils by Roderic O’Conor (1860-1940), painted when he lived in France. These include Nature Morte (€30,000-€40,000), described as “a superb still life showing the influence of Cézanne in composition and tone”.

Yet another Irish artist who left the country to live in France and England was Dublin-born William John Leech (1881-1968). The auction features his painting In The Lake, Regent’s Park, London (€15,000-€20,000), described as “Leech at his very best” and which has “been unseen in a single private collection for over 50 years”.

Belfast-born Paul Henry (1876-1958), by contrast, found contentment and inspiration in Ireland and was famous for his landscape paintings of the west.

Anyone with money still looking for a “trophy” piece by one of the country’s favourite artists might like his Keel Village, Achill (€50,000- €70,000).

One of the Ireland’s best-known women artists of the 20th century was Evie Hone (1894-1955) and she too spent time in London and Paris before settling back home in Dublin.

Hone was a painter and stained-glass artist who was commissioned to create a window for the Irish pavilion at the New York World Fair in 1939. It was later installed in CIÉ’s head office on O’Connell Street, Dublin, and eventually at the top of the ceremonial stairway in Government Buildings in 1990.

Her original sketch design for this window, titled My Four Green Fields (€3,000-€5,000) features the emblems of the four provinces and also a round tower that was omitted when the stained-glass window was made at her studio in Rathfarnham in Dublin.

Among British artists in the sale is Charles Burton Barber (1845–1894), a successful Victorian painter and royal favourite, famous for his depictions of children and their pets. Whyte’s describes Friend or Foe? (€25,000-€35,000) as a “wonderful example of his work . . . sure to tug at the heartstrings of bidders”.

Viewing begins today at the RDS in Ballsbridge, Dublin, where the sale takes place on Monday evening. Alternatively, Whyte’s website has a new feature that allows browsers to click on the image of a painting and, according to the auctioneers, “see it come to life” with a staff member providing a commentary.

Online gallery

Mealy’s Fine Art is the latest Irish auctioneering firm to revamp its internet presence. Its site, mealys.ie, has new features including an online gallery for private sales and for the sale of lots unsold at auction.

For its spring sale on Tuesday, the website offers “a new innovation for Irish auctions, the concept of remote viewing” of a collection of African tribal art, currently stored in Nairobi, and “successful bidders will be assisted in arranging shipping directly from Kenya”.

Prospective buyers for the many other lots in the auction, and who prefer the more tangible experience of a traditional viewing, can attend the saleroom from tomorrow.

Three-day event

Sheppard’s three-day auction this week in Durrow, Co Laois, was well attended and it also attracted online bidders from 40 countries. The top lots sold to Chinese bidders. (See auction results article.) Overall, 80 per cent of the 1,600-plus lots were sold.