Sale of Paul Henry work will be litmus test of the market

Irish artist achieved record sale last year; now Whyte’s is bringing Lobster Fishermen of Achill to sale at €200,000–€300,000

Described as a million euro sale, Whyte’s Irish and International Art auction is likely to attract keen interest.

The highlight amongst the 150 lots is an interesting Paul Henry painting, Lobster Fishermen of Achill, from 1916-1917 on Achill Island. It is interpreted as being "at once romantic and menacing in its immutability" by art historian Dr S. B. Kennedy and "illustrates the post-impressionist force of Henry's compositional technique".

What makes the painting rare is not just the subtle blue tones, but also, that islanders themselves feature as part of the composition. It will be a good litmus test of the market and also for Henry’s work.

Last year saw a record for the artist, when Mountains and Lake, Connemara achieved £622,500 (€730,199 including premium) at Christie's BJ Eastwood sale, and prior to this, Sunny Day Connemara achieved €420,000 at a Whyte's sale in 2020.

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The painting was last on the market when it achieved €170,000 plus premium in 2006 – also through Whyte’s – and now 18 years later it is expected to achieve between €200,000 and €300,000.

At the time Lobster Fishermen of Achill was painted, Henry was on Achill Island with his wife Grace. The pair had intended to stay for two weeks but ended up staying nine years.

Grace Henry is now recognised as an important Irish artist in her own right, and not before time. Her Fortune Teller achieved €37,000 against a €7,000 estimate in 2021, and she too features in Whyte's sale. Firstly, Women in Train on Way to Market is listed at €6,000–€8,000, while Fair Day, Connemara is seeking €15,000–€20,000.

With works by Daniel O'Neill, Patrick Hennessy and Sir John Lavery, the auction house is now issuing certificates of authenticity and lifetime guarantees for every lot.

Whyte’s auction will take place at the Freemason’s Hall on Molesworth Street on Monday, March 7th.

Cork-based Morgan O'Driscoll's Important Irish Art online sale is now live and will end Tuesday, March 8th.

The auction also features a Paul Henry. Entitled Connemara Woman, the pencil drawing, which depicts a rather dour old battle-axe, will most certainly be purchased as a collector’s piece rather than for its composition (€ 6,000–€ 8,000).

Also featured is a rare enough Maurice Canning Wilks work entitled Wash Day. It is unusual in comparison to his more popular of west of Ireland landscapes (€6,000–€8,000).

Donald Teskey, whose work is growing in popularity, is featured with one of his stormy north Mayo scenes. Entitled Surge, the signed oil on canvas measuring 70 by 80 centimetres is listed at €15,000–€25,000.

More west of Ireland scenery can be found in Cecil Maguire's Down by the Monastery, Roundstone (€4,000–€6,000) and Liam O'Neill's An Bád Gorm (The Blue Boat), a large-scale oil on canvas measuring 101 by 76 centimetres (€10,000–€15,000).

In terms of sculpture, the catalogue has works by Michael Foley including Sentinel, a bronze from 2020 (€1,000–€1,500); John Behan's The Emigrants (€1,750–€2,500), works by John Coll, Siobhán Bulfin and a lovely unique bronze by Ray Delaney, entitled Drift (€1,500–€2,500).

whytes.ie and morganodriscoll.com