You can now step inside the lives of many of Ireland’s best-loved artists through the recent launch of a new digital archive collection.
Source, at the National Gallery of Ireland, provides online access to over 23,000 records and images. Exploring the story of Irish art, the platform provides access to collections held in the Yeats Archive and the ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art, which, having been developed over the course of the gallery's 150 years, is now one of the most valuable research collections of its kind.
These culturally important archives are now catalogued, preserved and digitised and are available to both visitors and researchers alike to enjoy. Letters, sketchbooks, photographs and documents allow you to discover the lives of Irish artists in almost 17,000 records and 6,000 images, many of which are available for reuse and can be downloaded for research and educational purposes. Artists such as Frederic William Burton, William Orpen, Jack B Yeats and Sarah Purser feature in the collection, as does Roderic O'Conor.
One of O’Conor’s major works will feature in the forthcoming Adam’s Important Irish Art sale, which will take place on March 30th in a live online auction at its St Stephen’s Green saleroom, with in-person viewing commencing next Friday, March 25th.
Towards the end of the 19th century O’Conor was “reaching the height of his Impressionist powers”, according to catalogue notes, and this (1898/1900) is when he painted his major work, Marine au Clair de Lune. Composed when the artist lived in Brittany, it is quite a monumental work measuring 73 x 92cm, and was widely exhibited in Japan, Britain and Geneva prior to being in the possession of a private Irish collector for the past 25 years (€150,000-€200,000).
Fonsie Mealy’s Irish and International art sale this coming Wednesday, March 23rd, at the Avalon House Hotel in Castlecomer and online, has a slightly earlier and smaller work by O’Conor. O’Conor is often referred to as ‘Ireland’s greatest forgotten painter’, and Julian Campbell’s exhibition, The Irish Impressionists, at the National Gallery in 1984, gave O’Conor the recognition he deserves. Soleil en Forêt, also painted in France, depicts a forest bathed in sunlight on a bright summer’s day (€30,000-€40,000).
Following the recent highly acclaimed Jack B Yeats exhibition at the National Gallery, a number of works by Ireland’s favourite artist also feature in Adam’s sale. Continuing with a maritime theme of Roderic O’Conor’s oil painting, Marine au Clair de Lune, The Boat, which Yeats painted in 1948, is fresh to the auction market having been purchased by a London buyer from Waddington Galleries (€80,000-€120,000). Three other pictures of Yeats are works on paper and range from €3,000 to €10,000.
More ocean scenes at Adam’s include Edwin Hayes’s Dalkey Sound, of a sail boat on a port tack in a sea that few sailors would tempt to conquer (€7,000-€10,000).
There is something beautiful about the dark, moonlit seas capturing the outline of the West Pier and the buildings of old Dún Laoghaire in James Arthur O’Connor’s Dunleary, Coast of Dublin (€6,000-€8,000).
Richard Brydges Beechey
The highlight of Fonsie Mealy's sale is Sybil Head, Near the Blaskets and Dingle, West of Ireland, by Captain Richard Brydges Beechey from 1884, which is described as one of the artist's finest marine paintings (€30,000-€50,000). Known to sailors and fishermen alike, the sometimes treacherous waters of the Three Sisters off the Kerry coast is silhouetted against a foreboding sky and a foreground of currachs and brigs.
Beechey, a naval officer who became one of Ireland's most accomplished maritime painters, spent years surveying the coast and rivers of Ireland and was inspired by the hazards he encountered on the west coast. His view of the Blasket Islands is in the Royal St George Yacht Club in Dún Laoghaire, his mail boat Connaught is in the National Gallery and his work Eagle Island off Erris Head in Belmullet was exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1874.
Now that the first retrospective exhibition in 70 years of works by Belfast painter Daniel O’Neill is under way at Farmleigh, there is certain to be interest in lot 26 in Adam’s sale. Girl with a Flower, which the artist painted in the 1950s (€20,000-€30,000).
Patrick Swift, the Dublin painter and friend of Lucien Freud, is represented in what are described as "two fine oils" in Adam's catalogue. Green Wood from 1958 deals with the artist's fascination with foliage and its form (€10,000-€15,000), while Monte Gordo is a view of the Portuguese town in the late 1960s. Both paintings are large and were exhibited at the IMMA retrospective in 1993.
For fans of Hughie O’Donoghue, the National Gallery has just opened an exhibition which will run until June 19th. Hughie O’Donoghue: Original Sins is a series of six large paintings depicting historical figures. Though Manchester-born, his work is influenced by time spent in his mother’s birthplace, the remote and beautiful barony of Erris in Co Mayo.