Hot prices for Irish art in summer sales

Big-hitters like Yeats, Henry and Osborne now fetching prices well above pre-sale estimates

Is Irish art finally coming out of the shadow of recession and back into the sun?

There were certainly some glittering prices at Whyte’s Important Irish Art sale on Monday. The total achieved was €1.2 million, with 80 per cent of lots sold.

"I am delighted with the results, which show a continuing increase in demand for good quality Irish art," Ian Whyte said after the sale. "Some of the prices achieved are at levels we haven't seen since the mid-noughties."

Top of the sales lists were Jack B Yeats, whose Morning Glory (main pic top) rose comfortably above its top estimate to make €175,000 (€80,000–€120,000) and Paul Henry, whose Killary Bay doubled its estimate, selling for €140,000 (€50,000–€70,000).


Henry's depiction of an Antrim bog scene didn't fare quite so well, making a hammer price of €46,000 (€50,000–€70,000) but his gouache-on-board drawings of fashionably attired Parisian ladies, Apollo, Cigale, Fol-Berg and Lady with Feathered Hat and Boa, – probably executed while he was a student at a Paris atelier in 1898-1899 – made €14,000 (€8,000–€12,000).

Cecil Maguire's Evening, Old Quay, Roundstone more than doubled its top estimate, selling for €12,000 (€4,000–€6,000), as did Harry Kernoff's Sun Terrace, Dun Laoghaire Pier, which made €10,500 (€3,000–€5,000).

Grace Henry's view of St Stephen's Green, In a Public Garden made €10,000 (€4,000–€6,000) while Sarah Purser's An Important Letter, 1882, also made €10,000 (€3,000–€5,000). Peter Curling's racing picture Camera Patrol: Head On View made €12,500 (€6,000–€8,000).

There were a couple of high prices for sculptural pieces too: Rory Breslin's Mask of the River Blackwater sold for €11,500 (€5,000–€7,000) and John Henry Foley's bronze of Oliver Goldsmith made €10,000 (€3,000–€5,000).

At Adam’s art sale on Wednesday, 74 per cent of lots sold, bringing the sale’s gross total to €875,000.

"It was a strong sale with a great level of interest and demand right across the genres," James O'Halloran, managing director of Adam's, told The Irish Times. "The beautiful weather meant that much of the bidding was done, not surprisingly, by telephone and on the internet.

Modern works

“All the top lots sold and were snapped up by Irish buyers, many of them living abroad.The level of interest in the quality lots confirms once again that the blue chip artists are continuing to do well – but we also had a great deal of interest and good competitive bidding for the contemporary and modern works, which is very gratifying to see.”

At the Adam's sale Jack B Yeats's The Belle of Chinatown made €108,000 (€80,000–€120,000) and Paul Henry's A Bog Pool in Wicklow made €44,000 (€35,000–€45,000). Another of Rory Breslin's water-themed bronze heads, this time the oceanic Mask of the Atlantic, sold for €14,000 (€5,000–€7,000).

There were also strong results for three paintings by Walter Osborne: Counting the Flock (€165,000, estimate €100,000–€150,000), Beached Rowing Boats and Figures by the Shore (€23,000, estimate €8,000–€12,000) and A River Landscape with Buildings in the Distance (€1,600, estimate €1,200– €1,500).

Mainie Jellett's Abstract Composition also did well, making €39,000 (€20,000-€30,000) as did Norah McGuinness's The Liffey, which sold for €14,000 (€10,000-€15,000) and Figures on a Path, which made €12,000 (€8,000-€10,000).

Maurice MacGonigal's Connemara Hookers made €7,800 (€5,000-€7,000) and Charles Vincent Lamb's Connemara Landscape with Cottages made €7,000 (€3,000-€5,000).

Mark O'Neill's 2003 study of cattle dealers, Mid-Week Sale, made €11,000 (€5,000–€7,000) while Geraldine O'Neill's Holy Mary And The Chewing Gum Machine, also painted in 2003, sold for €6,000 (€3,000–€5,000).

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