Masterpiece painting by Walter Osborne appears at auction for first time

The Ferry by Walter Frederick Osborne

The Ferry by Walter Frederick Osborne

 

A major painting by Irish artist Walter Frederick Osborne is expected to sell for at least €500,000 in Dublin next month. The Ferry, dating from 1890, which depicts the harbour at Rye in East Sussex on the south English coast, will go under the hammer at de Veres on November 27th.

Auctioneer John de Vere White described it as a “wonderfully impressive oil which, in terms of size, quality and subject matter can be described as a masterpiece by the artist”. He said “it is the most important painting we have offered in many years and we expect major interest from Ireland and further afield.”

Osborne was born in Rathmines, Dublin in 1859 and spent many years working in both Brittany and rural England. He died of pneumonia, aged 44, in 1903. His best-known painting, Apple Gathering, Quimperlé, hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.

The Ferry has never appeared at auction before and has been in private ownership, in Dublin, since its acquisition from the Osborne family in the early 20th century by the present owner’s family. The oil-on-canvas, measuring 81cm by 122cm, was valued at £84 in 1903. The pre-sale estimate ahead of the auction is €400,000-€600,000.

Mr de Vere White said “major paintings by Osborne, who died young, rarely come up”. The last major work by Osborne to appear at auction was Feeding The Chickens which went under the hammer at Bonhams in London last year with an estimate of £500,000-£700,000. It went on view in Dublin before the sale, where it attracted considerable interest, but it failed to sell at auction when bidding stalled at £420,000 (€492,715). It is understood that the painting has since changed hands in a private transaction for an unknown price.

The highest price ever paid at auction for a painting by Osborne was achieved at Adam’s in Dublin in December, 2001, when In the Garden, Castlewood Avenue fetched £748,000.

The Ferry will go on public display at de Veres new auction venue, the Thomas Prior Hall, in the grounds of Bewley’s Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, from Sunday, November 24th until the auction on Wednesday, November 27th, at 6pm.

It will earlier go on view in Cork, along with other paintings in the sale, on Thursday, 14th November, at The Glucksman Gallery on the UCC campus on Western Road.

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