First auction of Basil Blackshaw paintings since artist’s death

De Veres has four lots by Blackshaw in its Irish Art Auction

Paintings by Basil Blackshaw will go under the hammer at auction in Dublin next week for the first time since the artist's death earlier this month.

Co Antrim-born – and based  – Blackshaw, who died aged 83 on May 1st, was one of Northern Ireland's best-known artists. In his early career his paintings often featured greyhounds and horses but later his art became more abstract. He was also a portrait painter and his sitters included Archbishop George Simms, Brian Friel, Jennifer Johnston and Douglas Gageby.

He was a member of Aosdána. As always following the death of an artist, the art market will begin to assess his legacy. Blackshaw wasn’t exactly a household name during his lifetime and was virtually unknown to the general public.

But auctioneer John de Vere White told The Irish Times this week that "Basil Blackshaw is at the top of the premiership of Irish painters and he's not going to fade into obscurity now that he's gone to Heaven". Time will tell.

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Relatively affordable

De Veres has four lots by Blackshaw in its Irish Art Auction on Wednesday evening and they’re currently on view in the gallery at 35 Kildare Street. Unlike some of the big names in Irish art, Blackshaw’s work is very much still in the relatively affordable category.

The top lot is an oil-on-canvas entitled Headland 2 dated 1992 estimated at €9,000-€12,000. Although abstract, Mr de Vere White said "once you see the title [of the painting] it's easy to see what's going on".

By contrast, the auction includes a selection of very realist paintings by Martin Gale (born 1949), best-known for chronicling the impact of economic development on the Irish rural landscape, including 2013 By-Pass No 4, estimated at €8,000-€12,000.

The top lot in the auction is a Jack B Yeats oil A Riverside Inn measuring 9 x 14 inches and dating from the mid-1940s which depicts a building in the centre of Sligo town on the banks of the Garavogue River, estimated at €70,000-€90,000.

Catalogue cover

Other highlights in the De Veres auction include: Still Life With Apples on a White Cloth, dating from the mid-1920s and which features on the cover of the catalogue, by Roderic O'Conor (€50,000-€70,000); A View of Semur-en-Auxois, an early 20th-century Cubist painting by Mary Swanzy (€30,000-€50,000); and, a second Jack B Yeats, The Ferry Boat, which is also nine by 14 inches, and dated 1943 (€50,000- €70,000).

Among the more affordable lots, Patrick Hennessy's Portrait of a Young Man (€1,500–€2,000) (see left) is likely to attract interest as a major exhibition devoted to the artist is currently under way at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Imma).

De Veres Irish Art Auction, viewing from noon today at 35 Kildare Street and continuing until Wednesday when the auction takes place in the Physicians’ Hall, 6 Kildare Street, at 6pm.