Patrick Leonard painting exceeds expectations at Whyte’s

North Dublin beach scene fetches double the estimate, making it unlikely star of art sale

Whyte's said its Irish & International Art auction at the RDS in Dublin on Monday night had been "a fantastic sale with great results". Overall, 83 per cent of lots sold for a total of €1.2 million. As well as saleroom bidding, Whyte's said that 15 per cent of lots were bought online by internet bidders.

Auctioneer Ian Whyte said "in terms of total sold and prices achieved it was the best sale since April 2008. This was due to a combination of the quality of the works offered and the renewed confidence in the art market".

Many of the lots had been consigned from "the Estate of George and Maura McClelland" including Lot 50 – the top lot – a cherrywood sculpture titled Matriarch, 1935 by F.E. McWilliam, the Northern Ireland sculptor who died in 1992, that made €90,000 – below the estimate (€100,000-€150,000).

Also from the McClelland collection: Lot 53, Morning Light II, Paradise Island, Bahamas, 1982 by Tony O'Malley sold for €30,000 (€30,000-€50,000); Lot 27, Children at Play described as "a rare oil from 1939 by Belfast artist Colin Middleton" made €29,000 (€30,000-€50,000); Lot 6, Boys Fishing by Frank McKelvey €11,500 (€5,000-€7,000); Lot 17, Bowl of Fruit circa1944 by William John Leech, €22,000 (€12,000-€15,000); Lot 26, Nativity, a unique hand-painted stone carving by Gerard Dillon €19,000 (€20,000-€30,000); and, Lot 47, an Aubusson tapestry titled Travellers by Louis le Brocquy, €58,000 (€60,000-€80,000).


The biggest surprise was Lot 19, an oil-on-canvas, pictured, titled A Hot Day in Rush, County Dublin by Patrick Leonard depicting crowds sunbathing on an Irish beach that made €18,000 – double the estimate (€8,000-€10,000).

Among lots consigned from other collections, the highlight was Lot 95, an oil painting, dated 1950, by Jack B Yeats titled Singing Under the Canopy of Heaven that sold below estimate for €85,000 (€90,000-€120,000). According to catalogue notes, the unusual title of the painting seems to refer to the two men depicted – who were strolling players in the Irish countryside – singing the 19th century American hymn Under the Canopy of Heaven; and that the scene was "probably based on the artist's memory of a political or religious parade or march such as those which took place in Sligo and the border counties".

Lot 98, Figure in a Landscape by Daniel O'Neill – described as depicting an "archetypal stoic female" – exceeded the estimate and sold for €45,000 (€30,000-€40,000).