Painting that once adorned Aer Lingus chairman’s office is star in Adam’s sale
‘By Merrion Strand’ is now most expensive Irish painting to be offered in 2017
By Merrion Strand is an oil-on-canvas, dating from the late 1920s
Adam’s Irish art sale on Wednesday, November 22nd just like the previous evening’s auction at de Veres – leads with Jack B Yeats whose By Merrion Strand has the highest estimate (€300,000-€500,000) of 2017 for a painting by an Irish artist.
Even if it makes the top estimate, that won’t, of course, be a record price. Adam’s already holds that record having achieved €1 million for the artist’s A Fair Day, Mayo in 2011.
By Merrion Strand is an oil-on-canvas, dating from the late 1920s, and measures 14 by 21 inches.
It depicts an Irish summer scene of almost a century ago – a young woman standing at a stall selling fruit with a view of Dublin Bay and the Wicklow Mountains behind her.
On her right, another woman – a flower-seller, sits on a wooden deck-chair with a large bouquet of flowers in her arms. Both have temporarily decamped to the beach to sell to the day-trippers and holidaymakers who flocked to the popular south Dublin beach at that time. The painting was once owned by Aer Lingus and hung in the chairman’s office but, when the airline sold off its corporate art collection in 2001, By Merrion Strand made IR£290,000 when it was auctioned at de Veres. It was bought by an unnamed private collector who is now putting it back on the market.
Lot 48, The Boat Builder by Yeats is a 1923 oil-on-board measuring 9 by 14 inches and is also a summer coastal scene but shows a very different side of Ireland at that time. A man seated in a súgán chair is watching two men building a boat. A young woman in a red skirt stands looking on. In the background are views of the islands and coastlines of Connemara. A traditional whitewashed cottage, evidently the home of the man and his companion, completes the scene.
The estimate is €70,000-€100,000. The painting last sold in Dublin – also at Adam’s – five years ago (September 26th, 2012) when it had the very same estimate and made just €62,000. It will be interesting to see if the price improves this time. The painting had been in Canada for years when it was re-discovered in 2003 and sold for about €103,000.
Paul Henry paintings are not rare and turn up at almost all major Irish art auctions but on this occasion, Adam’s is offering one that has “never before been on the market”.
Lot 45, A Kerry Lake, Dingle Peninsula is an oil-on-canvas, measuring 14 by 16 inches, was acquired directly from the artist, thought to have been a gift, by Dr Robert Donnelly who was the doctor on Achill. It has remained in family ownership ever since. The estimate is €60,000-€80,000.
Two private collections also feature in the auction. Some 40 pieces come from the collection of Northern Ireland journalist, broadcaster and art critic Eamonn Mallie led by Lot 36, Night Rider by Basil Blackshaw estimated at €100,000-€150,000 which has been on view in the main window display of Adam’s and has been drawing lots of glancing interest from passersby.
There’s also about 10 lots – painting and sculpture – from the private collection of the late PJ Mara the PR executive who died last year and his wife Breda who pre-deceased him.
Mara was best-known as press adviser to the late former taoiseach Charles Haughey and lived at Wellington Road, Dublin 4. Some of his antiques – including Waterford Crystal chandeliers were sold at auction in Adams, Blackrock auctioneers in south Co Dublin in September.
Now Adam’s is offering his small art collection. The highlight is Lot 11, The Storm – a Cubist landscape painting by the 20th-century Irish artist Mary Swanzy. She worked in France and, according to catalogue notes, the painting is an abstract depiction of Semur-en-Auxois, a town in Burgundy built on an outcrop of pink granite and famous for its ramparts and towers.
Perhaps more interesting is Lot 164, Summer’s Day on the Canal by Patrick Hennessy – estimated at €5,000-€7,000.
The image was painted in front of Hennessy’s residence and studio at 28 Herbert Place. Adam’s said PJ and Breda Mara “bought this work as their first home together was a flat in Herbert Place overlooking Huband Bridge”.