All three major Dublin auction houses will hold their first art auctions of the autumn season on consecutive evenings beginning on Monday. Viewing at all three is underway today and throughout the weekend.
First up is Whyte's which holds its Irish and International Art auction in the RDS at 6pm on Monday evening (September 28th) with over 200 paintings and sculptures.
Among the highlights is a 2ft high bronze maquette (model) – No 1 of an edition of nine – of a bronze sculpture of poet WB Yeats estimated at €8,000-€10,000. The original 8ft tall statue – by sculptor Rowan Gillespie – is outside the Ulster Bank branch on Stephen Street, Sligo, where it was unveiled in May 1990 by Senator Michael Yeats, the poet's son on the 50th anniversary of his father's death.
Whyte's said the sculpture had been erected outside the bank "because upon acceptance of his Nobel Prize in Sweden in 1924, [Yeats] commented on how the 17th century Royal Palace of Stockholm reminded him architecturally of the Ulster Bank building in Sligo".
A mid 19th century painting by Cork artist James Mahony, The Consecration of The Roman Catholic Church of St Mary's, Pope's Quay, Cork (€8,000-€10,000) has not been seen publicly since it was shown at the RHA in 1842.
Whyte’s say it “is of great historical significance in that it shows an important public ceremony in a newly built Catholic Church shortly after Catholic emancipation had been introduced and includes the figure of Daniel O’Connell in the congregation”.
On Tuesday evening at 6pm de Veres in Kildare Street will hold its Important Irish Art auction in Buswell's Hotel.
Director Rory Guthrie's interest in racing may explain the number of equestrian paintings that come up at de Veres which on this occasion include, in addition to Peter Curling's Hell for Leather (€25,000-€35,000), an early Basil Blackshaw painting Horse With Jockey Up (€4,000-€6,000). Landscape, a 1960s oil-on-canvas by Sean McSweeney, described as "wonderfully colourful" and a painting that "captures everything about" the artist, is estimated at €8,000-€12,000.
There are 24 paintings by the late Desmond Carrick – known for his popular, Impressionist-style paintings of Ireland, France and Spain – with estimates ranging from €400-€1,500.
On Wednesday evening at Adam's, over 230 lots will go under the hammer from 6pm in its Important Irish Art sale. The highest estimate is for The Old Landing Place by Jack B Yeats (€25,000-€35,000), a 1943 painting which shows a dilapidated jetty extending into blue waters and which is "likely to be of Sligo and possibly Enniscrone, known for its salt-water baths".
Two wonderfully photo-realist paintings of lighthouses by John Doherty include Poolbeg Light, Dublin (€6,000-€8,000).
Resting Tinkers by Gerard Dillon (€20,000-€30,000) was painted in the 1950s by the Belfast-born, then London-based, artist who recalled his trip to Connemara where he'd met a "'band of very colourful tinkers".
Like many city-based Irish artists, Dillon loved the Irish countryside – from a distance – and once wrote: “I love the simplicity of the country people, everything about them, the way they live, think, dress etc. I love the Irish peasants best of all.”
Hurling is, surprisingly, rarely depicted in Irish art so there ought to be interest in The Hurley Players by William Conor (€4,000-€6,000) "wax crayon on paper" dating from around 1948 about which Adam's says: "There is another version of this work in the collection of the Ulster Museum. It is thought to represent a hurling match in Falls Park, Belfast. It clearly depicts the intensity and energy of the game with the players' faces full of emotional expression."
Lot 177, The Piper by Brian Vallely (€8,000-€12,000) has been donated by the artist to raise funds for the restoration of 15 Henrietta Street, the Dublin headquarters of Na Píobairí Uilleann (NPU), the association of Irish pipers, founded in 1968.
The renowned English art critic Brian Sewell, who died this week, once infamously claimed: "There has never been a first-rank woman artist. Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness." Adam's said "there is a strong group of women artists included in the sale" but whether any fall into the "greatness" category is debatable. They include Letitia Hamilton whose The Harbour, Roundstone is estimated at €10,000-€15,000 and the much more interesting Margaret Stokes whose Horse and Jockey is €1,500-€2,500.