First major art auction of the year has some sweet lots

Lavery’s portrait of sugar dynasty’s Lady Lyle in Dublin auction

Viewing for the first major Dublin art auction of the year begins next Saturday at the RDS where Whyte's will show more than 200 lots. Auctioneer Ian Whyte is confident about the market in 2014 and expects "the improvement in prices achieved for Irish art in 2013 to continue" .

Like other auctioneers, he is also hoping that “improved prices will tempt owners to sell more” because there’s a lack of supply and the “actual volume of good Irish paintings at auction is still only 35 per cent of what was offered in 2007”.

Whyte's has a selection of Irish and British art in the sale including A Lady in White (A Portrait of Lady Lyle ) by Sir John Lavery estimated at €30,000- €50,000. Belfast- born Lavery was a leading portrait painter to late Victorian and Edwardian high society and Lady Lyle was the wife of Sir Alexander Park Lyle. He was a member of the Lyle family, Scotland's fabulously rich sugar dynasty, whose company created the famous Golden Syrup brand. Lyle later merged with rival Henry Tate's business to become Tate & Lyle in 1921.

This portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy, London in 1895 and, according to a catalogue note, “the éclat of the Lady’s fair skin and treatment of the delicate fabrics of her dress reveal [Lavery’s] acute sensitivity to his sitter and the demands of his elite market.”


Another late 19th-century painting by an Irish artist, and the highest estimated lot in the sale, is Sunshine and Shadow, La Rue de l'Apport , Dinan (1883) by Walter Frederick Osborne, estimated at €70,000-€90,000. Osborne's The Ferry made €490,000 at de Veres in Dublin last year, the highest price paid for a painting at auction in Ireland in 2013.

Other notable traditional pictures in the sale include Figures By A River by James Arthur O'Connor (€8,000-€10,000); H.C.S. Warren Hastings off Ascension Island , a rare image of a ship sailing past the volcanic, South Atlantic Ocean island by 19th-century Cork artist George Mounsey Wheatley Atkinson (€5,000-€7,000); and A Surrey Lane by Alfred Augustus Glendening (€3,000-€4,000).

Contemporary art
Fans of modern art will find works by Gerard Dillon, Daniel O'Neill and Louis le Brocquy amongst others at prices still well down on the 2007 peak. Lots include Ready To Run 1 by Mark O'Neill (€3,000- €4,000), Moroccan Roses by Patrick Hennessy (€2,500- €3,500), and Fox With Birds Hiding by Julian Friers (€1,500-€1,800).

A really quirky item, lot 24, is a doll of artist Jack B Yeats made in 1958 by craftswomen Frances and Lily Whelan (sisters of Dublin artist Leo Whelan) and estimated at €600-€800.

Whyte’s Irish and British Art, viewing at the RDS, Anglesea Road entrance, Ballsbridge, February 22nd to 24th, 10am -6pm . Auction February 24th at 6pm . Catalogue €15, or download free from