Achill child’s portrait from 1913 in New York art auction

Sotheby’s to sell ‘Little Irish Girl’ by American artist Robert Henri next week

Little Irish Girl by Robert Henri 
an oil-on-canvas measuring 24 by 20 inches, has an estimate of USD 
($70,000-$100,000) painted on Achill Island in 1913, for sale at Sotheby’s New York

Little Irish Girl by Robert Henri an oil-on-canvas measuring 24 by 20 inches, has an estimate of USD ($70,000-$100,000) painted on Achill Island in 1913, for sale at Sotheby’s New York

Sat, Apr 6, 2013, 07:00

A 100-year-old painting of a child on Achill Island by renowned American artist Robert Henri is to be sold at Sotheby’s in New York next week. Little Irish Girl , an oil-on-canvas measuring 61cm by 51cm has an estimate of $70,000-$100,000 and comes from the collection of David C Copley, a billionaire San Diego newspaper publisher and philanthropist who died last year.

Robert Henri (1865-1929) was a leading American artist of the early 20th century whose paintings hang in major museums in the United States including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and the Art Institute of Chicago.

He and his Irish-born wife Margaret Organ visited Achill in the summer of 1913 during a tour of Ireland and fell in love with the area.

They first rented, and later purchased, Corrymore House, once owned by Capt Charles Boycott, near the village of Dooagh and spent many summers there. Henri painted numerous portraits of local people and the canvases were shipped back to the United States where they found an eager audience.

He was an accomplished portrait painter, especially of children, and once remarked: “In the faces of children I have seen a look of wisdom and kindness expressed with such ease and certainty that I knew it was the expression of a whole race.”

Henri has rather been forgotten in Ireland, and now Achill is more associated with the Belfast-born painter Paul Henry who also spent many years on the island.

In the United States, Henri’s paintings are still very much sought-after by collectors, particularly Irish-Americans, and by museums. The auction of Little Irish Girl takes place on Thursday.