Dublin’s first major art auction of 2015

Mix of Irish and international art at Whyte’s auction at RDS in Dublin

Viewing begins today for Dublin's first major art auction of 2015 when Whyte's unveils its Irish and international art at the RDS where the sale takes place on Monday evening.

Earlier this year, auctioneer Ian Whyte said there was a "shortage" of top quality art being consigned to auction as owners were reluctant to sell because of "the high rate of capital gains tax and the low or non-existent deposit rates for the proceeds of any sales". So, although demand is strong, supply is limited and his assessment is borne out in a catalogue which features only a single painting estimated over €15,000.

The only really big-ticket lot is Landscape, Connemara by Paul Henry with an estimate of €60,000-€70,000. The 1940s oil-on-canvas is described as a "very traditional painting" for buyers "looking to invest in a work of enduring value". The painting includes all the hackneyed elements so characteristic of this artist – "thatched cottages on an isolated country road with a mountain range in the distance and thick cumulous clouds dominating a vast sky". The scene depicted is believed to be Atlantic Drive, Achill.

A more manicured, urban garden scene – also dating from the 1940s – is offered by William Leech whose The Terrace has an €8,000-€10,000 estimate.


North African scenes This year sees is the centenary of the birth of Cork artist Patrick Hennessy. Two of his oil paintings from the mid-1970s Atlas Beach and Kassim by the Sea, both estimated at €4,000-€6,000, described as "photorealistic north African scenes [that] show the artist's skill as a draughtsman as well as his talent for portraiture", a reference his travels in Morocco.

The overseas stints of artist Tony O'Malley are recalled in The Autumn Painting (I), dated 1981 and estimated at €10,000-€15,000, "testament to his time the Bahamas, where the climate as well as flora and fauna of the island had a profound affect on his work".

The most eye-catching lot in the auction though is a painting by self-taught Belfast artist Dermot Seymour (born 1956) titled The Queen's own Scottish Borderers Observe the King of Jews Appearing behind Seán McGuigan's Sheep on the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany – dated 1988.

Seymour deals with the subject of political turmoil in Northern Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s and "treats political subject matter with social realism and absurdist humour". According to a catalogue note, "his paintings often involve the juxtaposition of political imagery in an Irish landscape setting accompanied by livestock and religious or military symbolism."

The painting will strike a chord with anyone who lived through the Troubles and should intrigue younger viewers.

The estimate is €1,500-€2,000 and this, surely, would make for a more interesting and adventurous investment than the various works – in a similar price range – by Irish and international artists including Louis le Brocquy and English graffiti artist, Banksy.

20th-century female artists Paintings by some of Ireland's best-known 20th-century female artists include Still Life by May Guinness (1863-1955) which "demonstrates her adaption of a Modernist style following her time studying under André Lhote in Paris in the 1920s". It is estimated at €8,000-€10,000. A painting by Mary Swanzy (1882-1978) titled Revolution shows "her preoccupation with war in the 1940s" and is estimated at €4,000-€6,000.

Other artists represented in the auction include Daniel O’Neill, William Conor, Frank McKelvey, Percy French, George Nano Reid, Louis le Brocquy, Patrick Scott, John Shinnors and Kenneth Webb.

Whyte's Irish & International Art, RDS, Anglesea Road entrance, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. Auction on Monday, February 23rd, at 6pm. Viewing today, tomorrow and Monday from 10am-6pm. For online viewing and bidding see whytes.ie