A choice of Yeats and a double-sided Paul Henry to be auctioned this month

Both an early and late Jack B Yeats feature alongside a double-sided Paul Henry - which could be split in two - in Adam’s Important Irish Art sale

Some of Jack B Yeats’s early paintings remain his most popular and acclaimed works. Notable for their use of colour and energetic style, they are mostly characterised by their realism.

One of these, a wonderful early oil entitled On a Western Quay, is the principal highlight of Adam’s forthcoming Important Irish Art sale on September 27th. Also known as Sligo Quay, the painting, which was executed in 1923, depicts a sailor – more than likely a pilot – whose job it was to guide merchant ships from Rosses Point along the Garavogue River to the quays in Sligo town. Catalogue notes suggest the image of the pilot, who is resting against a look-out hut, is based on the character of Michael Gillen, who worked at Rosses Point when Yeats was young and living with his grandparents in Sligo.

Estimated at €100,000-€150,000, the well-exhibited work, which was in the ownership of Scottish collector Sir Patrick Ford, has fantastical scenes. Identified as Drumcliffe – where Yeats’s brother William Butler is buried, and where his paternal grandfather was clergyman – it is not possible to determine the exact spot, as Yeats seems to have exaggerated views for dramatic effect.

In contrast, a much later oil by Yeats, The Woods in the Bay (1955), is, according to art historian Dr Roisin Kennedy, among his last works, as he died less than two years after it was completed. With an almost abstract landscape, it is suggested that the blue mountain silhouette is Ben Bulben (€40,000-€60,000).


Paul Henry is represented by an unusual double-sided oil on panel with Menawn Cliffs and Dooega Head on one side, and Landscape with Trees on the other. Catalogue notes suggest that Henry painted these on Achill between 1912 and 1915 (€40,000-€60,000). A savvy buyer could separate these and have two works, as they are board on ply.

Another Henry painting, Evening, executed around 1924/25, is from a time when figures all but disappeared from Henry’s work. Instead, he focused on landscapes in their purest form. Larger than his usual works, it captures beautiful dusk light by casting blue and purple shadows – with his signature bulbous clouds (€100,000-€150,000).

Louis le Brocquy is represented by a number of lithographs from the Táin series priced at €1,000-€1,500 apiece, and also by Eden, an Aubusson tapestry designed by the artist in the late 1940s and executed in 1953. From an edition of nine, and estimated at €25,000 to €35,000, it dates from a time when Edinburgh Tapestry Weavers approached the artist to design a tapestry. Critic Aidan Dunne suggests that “the woman’s heel on the upper right refers to the divine pronouncement that the serpent, blamed by her for her fall from grace, will bruise her heel – though she will crush it”.

Along with works from Rowan Gillespie, Gerald Dillon and Hughie O’Donoghue, curiosities include a leather-bound journal with ink drawings by Sir William Orpen and Harry Clarke, with verses by artists Letitia and Eva Hamilton and others (€1,500-€2,500). The journal was owned by Norah O’Kelly, who was a craft student at The Dublin School of Art, and a rare example of her work is included in the sale (Hermes, €800-€1,200).

Festival of Time

A one-of-a-kind watch, created by master watchmaker Paul Gerber, will be unveiled at Waterford’s International Festival of Time, and will later be auctioned for charity in Geneva. Swiss-born Gerber is recognised in the Guinness Book of World Records for having created the world’s most complicated wristwatch, and his timepiece will be unveiled at the upcoming festival, running from September 22nd to 24th.

Now in its second year, the festival hosts master craftsmen from all over the world, and Meet the Maker offers visitors a chance to view timepieces and their creators. Ireland’s own John McGonigle will be joined by other timepiece luminaries such as Simon Brette, Andreas Strehler and Marc Jenni. Waterford, home to the Irish Museum of Time since 2021, has an extraordinary connection with Swiss watch- and clock-making. In 1782, 1,000 Swiss Huguenots, facing oppression under French and Bernese masters, uprooted and relocated to a settlement near Waterford city, a location given the moniker Little Geneva.

Sketching club exhibition

Celebrating its 145th annual exhibition, the Dublin Painting and Sketching Club is currently holding a show with more than 150 works by its eighty members. Formed in 1874 – almost 150 years ago – the club has brought together both artists and amateurs with annual exhibitions. This year’s event – which will feature work by Michael Gemmell, Vincent Smith, Patrick Cahill and Margo Banks – will take place at the impressive Town Hall space of the Windmill Quarter in Dublin 2 until September 23rd.

adams.ie, waterfordtreasures.com, and dublinpaintingandsketchingclub.ie

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables