Prime paintings, and a pram, at Adam’s

Brian Friel’s art collection, a rare Paul Henry found in Germany included in autumn sales


Paintings, drawings and sculpture by many of the great names of 19th and 20th century Irish art go on sale at Adam’s autumn art sale on Wednesday. 

 The auction opens with the 23 paintings of the Friel Collection, assembled over many years by the late playwright Brian Friel and his wife Anne, and now to be sold with proceeds going to the homeless charity the Peter McVerry Trust.  The collection includes three paintings by Basil Blackshaw. The suitably dramatic Game Cock (Lot 20, €15,000-€20,000) was bought by Anne Friel as a gift for her husband because she thought that “the bird had the look of a survivor about it”. Three Sisters (Lot 1, €6,000-€10,000), which portrays a cool, calm dacha with three windows, was the cover image for the programme of Friel’s translation of Chekhov’s famous play;  Lurcher (Lot 4, €5,000-€7,000), a study of a man and his dog walking on a beach at sunset, glows with energy and colour. 

 Evening Flight by Norah McGuinness (Lot 15, €15,000-€25,000) is a tranquil beach scene in which seabirds feed at dusk against the silhouette of the Dublin skyline, while  Stephen McKenna’s Houses in Italy (Lot 7, €5,000-€7,000) is a dream-like portrait of an Italian hill village.  Friel loved the photo-realist paintings of Patrick Hennessy and there are four in the sale, including Herding the Horses (Lot 10, €7,000-€10,000).

Wide selection

Silver Painting 10/90Abstract CompositionYellow and Space II

 The sale continues with a wide selection of paintings in all styles and to suit a range of budgets, from traditional landscapes such as Walter Osborne’s serene Moonrise, which shows Foxrock inhabited by a flock of grazing sheep, (Lot 82, €60,000-€80,000) and James Arthur O’Connor’s View of Howth with Howth Castle and Ireland’s Eye in the Distance (Lot 70, €20,000-€30,000)  to portraits of a recognisably contemporary Dublin in Evie Hone’s Road Near Dublin (Lot 47, €3,000-€5,000) and Donald Teskey’s Street Scene with Three Figures (Lot 48, €6,000-€8,000).  

Two painters whose work is usually associated with a strong colour palette are seen working in monochrome in this sale: William Scott’s chunky Nude (Lot 90, €15,000-€20,000)  is a charcoal-on-paper study of a female form, while The Sandwich Board Man by Jack B Yeats (Lot 35,  €20,000-€30,000) uses black ink with touches of pale colour to portray one of the iconic real-life characters who populated the streets of Dublin in the 1920s. 

 The most expensive painting in the auction is a head of James Joyce by Louis le Brocquy (Lot 38, €60,000-€100,000). There are two jewel-like Paul Henrys: the tiny Cottages on a Hill (Lot 24, €20,000-€30,000), its row of precariously perched dwellings almost swallowed up by a dramatic billowing sky, and Landscape With Cottages (Lot 33, €60,000-€80,000), a previously unrecorded work which has been in Bavaria with a German family since it was purchased, and probably portrays Achill Sound with Corraun mountain on the horizon. 

Glorious summer

CockerelMoore Street Pram Woman of Belfast No 7Open Figure

  Finally, anyone who isn’t quite ready to let go of the glorious summer of 2018 should have a look at Gerard Dillon’s Pigeon in the Bay (Lot 115, €30,000-€40,000).  One glance at the bird’s cheeky expression and beautifully rendered wing feathers, the delightfully skewed angles and the pulsating blue of the sea, and you’re in a happy holiday place – for a brief moment, at least.

Adam’s, 26 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2. Important Irish Art, Wednesday September 26th, 6pm.  For online catalogue, viewing times and bidding details see

Highlights in De Vere’s auction

Among the highlights of De Vere’s auction on Tuesday are a richly-painted quayside river scene from 1925 by Jack B Yeats, The Return from the Picnic, (Lot 27, €60,000-€90,000) and a head of Oscar Wilde by Louis le Brocquy (Lot 12, €15,000-€20,000).  The sale contains a hugely varied collection of 30 works from the studio of George Campbell which includes abstract landscapes, still lives and watercolour drawings (Lots 30 to 62).  Many of the biggest names in Irish art are represented at De Vere’s, with Norah McGuinness’s The Upper Liffey (Lot 8, €8,000-€12,000), Sean Scully’s Yellow Ascending (Lot 15, €8,000-€12,000), Daniel O’Neill’s Solitude (Lot 25, €8,000-€12,000), John Shinnors’s Red Scarecrow Portrait and White Scarecrow Portrait (Lots 13 and 4,  €6,000-€9,000 each) and an untitled lithograph which features the instantly recognisable abstract forms of William Scott (Lot 18, €3,000-€5,000). 

De Vere’s, 35 Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Irish Art Auction at the Royal College of Physicians, No 6 Kildare Street, Tuesday September 25th, 6pm. For online catalogue, viewing times and bidding details see