It may be lowkey but the annual summer selling exhibition of 17th-21st century Irish – and Irish interest – paintings at Dublin's Gorry Gallery is always keenly anticipated by collectors and aficionados. This year there are 58 works on show in all price brackets.
There's nothing obviously Irish about one of the best paintings: The Father of the Regiment, a classic Victorian portrait depicting Dr James Mouat VC, the winner of the first "Medical" Victoria Cross, surrounded by children admiring his medal and sword.
But the artist was the Dublin-born George Bernard O’Neill (1828-1917) who emigrated during childhood, with his family, to London and became a successful artist. The subject, James Mouat, was the first doctor to win a Victoria Cross (Britain’s highest award for gallantry) for his bravery during “the Charge of the Light Brigade” in the Crimean War. He was later knighted and became honorary surgeon to Queen Victoria.
The O’Neill family home in London was 50 yards from Dr Mouat’s residence in Kensington. The children in the painting were the artist’s own. According to Gorry’s, this painting is a “large and significant work of exceptional quality”. The oil-on-canvas measures 91.5cm by 72cm (3.1ft by 2.3ft). This beautifully-executed painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1877 where it sold for £350. Today, 140 years later, it’s priced at €65,000.
Other highlights in the show include, from the 17th century, a “major rediscovery” of one of two paintings depicting the Battle of the Boyne by the Dutch artist Jan van Huchtenburg (1647-1733). The companion piece is in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
From the 18th century are A View of the Canal Between the Lakes of Killarney by Jonathan Fisher (1735-1809); and – dating from 1775 – A View of Gibraltar by William Ashford (1746-1824), a rare early view of Gibraltar which, according to an inscription on the back, was painted by Ashford for Sir John Irwin, then commander-in-chief in Ireland from a drawing taken on the spot by Col Vallancy. Fom the 19th century, Shipping in Cork Harbour by George Mounsey Wheatley Atkinson (1806-1884); and A Greek Ode by the Clonakilty-born artist Alfred Elmore (1815-1881).
There's a small selection of more modern 20th- and 21st-century paintings by artists including William Osborne, Henry Robertson Craig, Harry Kernoff, Paul Kelly, Norman Teeling, Gerard Byrne, Hannah Baker and Lia Laimböck.
The catalogue, which includes some very well-researched essays on the major paintings, is available online at gorrygallery.ie but does not contain prices so interested buyers must visit the Gorry Gallery at 20 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. It is open today (Saturday, June 24th), 11.30am-2.30pm and Monday-Friday, 11.30am-5.30pm.