Painting “slashed” by IRA during the Civil War restored and up for auction

Portrait shows privileged children of Oliver St John Gogarty at Connemara holiday home

‘The Children of Oliver St John Gogarty, Dermot, Brenda and Noll at Renvyle, Connemara with the Twelve Pins’, estimated at €10,000-€15,000, at the Fonsie Mealy auction.

‘The Children of Oliver St John Gogarty, Dermot, Brenda and Noll at Renvyle, Connemara with the Twelve Pins’, estimated at €10,000-€15,000, at the Fonsie Mealy auction.

 

A painting, ironically dating from 1916, of children in the west of Ireland that was “slashed” by the IRA during the Civil War has been successfully restored and is to be auctioned later this month.

The Children of Oliver St John Gogarty, Dermot, Brenda and Noll at Renvyle, Connemara with the Twelve Pins in the Background is the star lot in the Chatsworth fine art sale at Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers later this month.

The oil on canvas, estimated at€10,000-€15,000, is by English artist Gerald Leslie Brockhurst (1890-1978) – a well-known portrait painter whose sitters included Marlene Dietrich and the Duchess of Windsor (Wallis Simpson).

Brockhurst lived in Ireland between 1915 and 1919 and was commissioned – in 1916 – to paint the Gogarty children by their father, Oliver St John Gogarty (1878- 1957), a Dublin surgeon and a prominent figure in early 20th century Irish literary and political circles, as well as being the inspiration for the character Buck Mulligan in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses.

Renvyle House

After independence in 1922, Gogarty supported the pro-treaty side and was appointed a senator by the new Irish Free State government headed by WT Cosgrave. During the Civil War, anti-treaty forces attacked and burned Gogarty’s holiday home in Connemara, Renvyle House (today the Renvyle House Hotel).

Auctioneer George F Mealy said the painting was “slashed by the IRA ” during that incident but survived and has now been fully restored by the Gorry Gallery in Dublin. It is being sold by a descendant of Gogarty. The portrait depicts Oliver (known as Noll), later a famous barrister, aged nine; Dermot, aged eight; and Brenda, aged five.

Noll Gogarty’s portrait as a child was also painted by Sir William Orpen whose Noll; Son of Oliver St John Gogarty sold for £194,500 at Sotheby’s in London in 2013.

Among other highlights in the eclectic auction is lot 112, a “unique 18ct gold figure of the Madonna, in a custom-made leather case by Cartier” that was “by repute privately commissioned in the 1930s for Barbara Hutton, the heiress/ socialite of Woolworth and Hutton family fame” (€5,000-€7,000).

Lot 566 is a Kilkenny black marble Victorian fireplace “purchased at the ‘demolition sale’ of contents of the wing at Borris House” (€700- €1,000).

Native American headdress

There’s a selection of ethnographical art and artefacts including lot 486 – a “late 19th century/ early 20th century Native American Indian headdress, with eagle feather quills and plumes”, brought home to Ireland as a souvenir by a family in Castleknock in Dublin and now, surprisingly, worth an estimated €3,000- €4,000.

This could cause a surprise. Last year, in the same saleroom, a Native American outfit, brought home to an aristocratic Big House in Co Kilkenny more than 100 years ago, and which had a top pre-sale estimate of €6,000, sold for €320,000 to a telephone bidder in the United States.

Possibly the most exotic item is lot 90: a 19th century 22ct gold hairpin brought home from Africa by a British army surgeon during the Abyssinian campaign in 1868. The hairpin, estimated at €180-€250 , was reputedly worn by the wife of King Theodore ( also known as Emperor Tewedros II) of Abyssinia (Ethiopia).

Taxidermy

There’s a big selection of taxidermy, which seems to be enjoying a revival, including lot 604, “a very large late 19th century tiger skin” (€1,000-€1,500); and lot 605, “a large, preserved skin and head of a brown grizzly bear (estimated at €350-€500).

The auction features items from various Irish country houses including Dartrey, Co Monaghan; Ardfort House, Co Tipperary; and Falmore Hall, Co Louth.

Viewing begins next Sunday in the saleroom at the Old Cinema, Chatsworth Street, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, where the auction takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday June 28th and 29th, starting at 10.30am each day.

The catalogue is €10 (and admits two) but is also online at fonsiemealy.ie.

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