Two views of Dublin Bay as painted by one of Ireland’s foremost landscape artists

By a stroke of luck the two paintings were purchased by the same person, allowing them to stay together for the next 150 years

Two important recently discovered works by William Ashford, considered to be the foremost landscape painter of his time in Ireland, feature in Adam's forthcoming Important Irish Art sale, which takes place on Wednesday, June 1st.

Known for his grand scale designs, Ashford (1746-1824) was the first president of the Royal Hibernian Academy.

The pair of paintings, Two Views of Dublin Bay, Looking North and South, were purchased in 1776 with James Christie, founder of auction house Christie's, at the rostrum. After this the pair – which miraculously stayed together – lost their attribution, and sold as two separate lots attributed to Peter Monamy called Coastal Scenes in a further Christie's sale in 1887.

By a stroke of luck the two lots were purchased by the same person, allowing them to stay together for the next 150 years.

“When I saw them first I thought ‘oh, that’s Dublin Bay – not the UK coast’, and then on further investigation discovered they were actually two masterpieces by William Ashford,” says James O’Halloran of Adam’s.

What is most interesting besides their monumental size and need to stay with each other, as they depict both sides of Dublin Bay, is the two men in the foreground. Standing with high seas behind them against a backdrop of just one house, they are stonemasons constructing part of the Great South Wall.

The painting (north view) shows just one cottage on the coastline from Dublin to Sutton as the painting predates any construction, so is an important record of the typography of Dublin. It is also rare in the sense that it appears to be painted from the sea, so perhaps Ashford was in a boat at the time.

The pair, which through luck and fortune have managed to stay together for almost 250 years, will be sold as one lot and have their own catalogue outlining their significance (€500,000-€700,000).

The sale, which has over €2 million in estimates, features one of Ashford's peers, George Barret, with another work which has just been discovered entitled Sun Rising: An Extensive Wooded Landscape with Fishermen (€100,000-€150,000). A copy of this masterpiece was engraved by Robert Laurie and now resides in the British Museum and the painting itself relates to a larger work at the National Gallery of Ireland, which was purchased at Christie's in 2005 for about €615,000.

As our love affair with all things Jack B Yeats continues, the sale has some lots of interest. Firstly, The Bridge, Skibbereen "is the largest and most ambitious" of the artist's paintings based on the scenery in Skibbereen, according to catalogue notes (€400,000-€600,000).

The Folded Heart (€250,000-€350,000) of a lone figure is darker in tones, and is from the period when the artist favoured greys and blacks, while Talk (Egglers) first exhibited at the show Sketches of Life in the West of Ireland in 1905. It depicts two fellows who dealt in eggs (€20,000-€30,000).

A monumental Hughie O'Donoghue, Yellow Man II (€40,000-€60,000), coincides with the current show Original Sins at the National Gallery. It is featured alongside modernist sculptural work by Barry Flanagan, whose Horse on Anvil is seeking €20,000-€30,000. adams.ie

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