Two Jack B Yeats paintings to be auctioned in Dublin

Previous owners were Lord Killanin and former Swiss ambassador to Ireland

Two paintings by Jack B Yeats – one unseen by the public for 70 years and the other returning to Ireland after 45 years in a private collection overseas – will go under the hammer at Adam's in Dublin next month.

By Drumcliffe Strand, Long Ago, estimated at €80,000-€120,000, dates from 1934 and was acquired from the Leger Gallery in London in 1946 by the late Lord Killanin. David Britton of Adam's said "it now comes directly for sale from his family". According to the catalogue note: "In this work Yeats evokes the romance and adventure that he associated with Co Sligo since his childhood. Drumcliffe, with its rich mythological and historical connections, presented endless possibilities for the imagination. The painting depicts an encounter between a dark-skinned gentleman and a beautiful young woman. Behind the female figure a dark, parasol- like form adds an exotic note".

The oil-on-board painting measuring 23 x 35.5cm (9 x 14 inches), which was first exhibited by Yeats at the Dunthorne Gallery in London in 1936, was originally bought by the novelist, art collector and philanthropist Sir Hugh Walpole. He died in 1941 and five years later, the painting turned up at the Leger Gallery where it was bought by Lord Killanin.

Lord Killanin, who died in 1999, aged 84, was born Michael Morris in London in 1914 – the son of a Galway father and English mother. He inherited, from an uncle, the title of Baron Killanin which enabled him to sit in the House of Lords.


He was a journalist who joined the British Army during the second World War, attained the rank of major and was involved in planning for the D-Day Landings. He returned to Ireland in the 1950s, became chairman of the Galway Races, head of the Olympic Council of Ireland and later President of the International Olympic Committee. He was the father of Michael "Mouse" Morris, the racehorse trainer who trained this year's Grand National and Irish Grand National winners.

Sligo landscape

Adam’s said its second Yeats is entitled

The Birds are on the Move,

estimated at €60,000- €80,000. It dates from 1955 and is also an oil-on-board painting, measuring 23 x 35.5cm (9 x 14 inches). A catalogue note describes it as a “small Sligo landscape” that shows two figures looking into the distance and, as “one of the last works that Jack B Yeats painted” – completed in September 1955, 18 months before his death.

Auctioneer David Britton said the painting was sold at an exhibition in London in 1971 at the Waddington Galleries marking the centenary of Jack B Yeats's birth. The purchaser was Guy de Keller, then Swiss Ambassador to Ireland and it is now being sold by a family descendant. Ambassador de Keller was ambassador to Ireland between 1967 and 1973 and bought a number of works by Yeats, Roderic O'Conor and other Irish artists. He died in 2005.

Adam's said both paintings will go under the hammer in Dublin in its 'Important Irish Art' auction in the saleroom, 26 St Stephen's Green, on Wednesday, June 1st at 6pm. In advance of the auction, the two Jack B Yeats paintings are currently on view, along with other highlights in the sale, at the Crescent Arts Centre, 2-4 University Road in Belfast until Thursday (May 19th) daily, including weekends, 11am-5pm. The pictures will then return to Dublin for viewing ahead of the auction.