Last big Irish art auction of 2013

Adam’s says ‘green shoots’ are appearing in the Irish art market


Adam’s will hold the last big Irish art sale of the year in Dublin on Wednesday evening. The auctioneer David Britton said there were “green shoots appearing and a confidence re-emerging in the Irish art market” citing the world record price achieved at Adam’s in May for a painting by Paul Henry when Potato Gatherers sold for €400,000.

Since then, numerous works by Paul Henry have appeared at auction in Dublin and London and demand is buoyant.

Adam’s is selling five works by Paul Henry in this sale “from all periods and price levels” including a small early work, dating from about 1910, titled Old Woman, Achill (€5,000-€7,000) and, from 1939, A Connemara Village (€50,000-€70,000).

Other big traditional names in the sale include Seán Keating with two “important” paintings: Pipes and Porter (€80,000- €120,000), which features the artist amongst numerous sitters including his own brother; and, the Good Old Stuff (€40,000-€60,000). Sir John Lavery’s Bringing Home the Turf: The Kingdom of Kerry (€30,000-€50,000) dates from 1924 when the artist and his wife Hazel visited Lord Castlerosse at Kenmare House.

The Day’s First Customer by Jack B Yeats (€80,000-€120,000) was painted in 1952, five years before the artist died, and depicts a boy entering a shop doorway on a sunny morning where the shopkeeper sits reading a newspaper at the end of the counter. Still Life of Flowers in Mirror by William John Leech is €20,000-€30,000; and Brocade And Fruit by Patrick Hennessy, €6,000-€8,000.

The top lot in the sale is a 19th-century painting Figure Of Erin by Daniel Maclise (€120,000-€160,000), a study for the artist’s fresco of “Justice” in the Palace of Westminster’s House of Lords. This was last seen in public at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork five years ago and is being sold by collector Patrick Guinness of the brewing dynasty.

One of the least expensive but most interesting lots in the auction is a Victorian picture titled The Emigrants’ Last Farewell (€1,000-€1,500) by Alfred Grey, a little-known Dublin artist who was born during the Great Famine in 1845 and died, aged 81, in 1926. A family on the deck of a ship is leaving Ireland. The young mother, holding her baby, wipes a tear from her eye while her husband, holding his hat aloft, waves goodbye to the old country. The coastline is just visible in the background. The man is sitting on a basket – his luggage – which is labelled “John Ford, Passenger to New York”. Was he a real person or invented by the artist?

Viewing begins tomorrow, Sunday, December 1st at 2pm in the Adam’s saleroom at 26 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2 where the auction takes place on Wednesday next, December 4th at 6pm.

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