Heaney poem fetches €4,800


A handwritten poem by Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney has fetched €4,800 at auction in Dublin.

The piece, From the Republic of Conscience, was sold last night at part of a sale by Whyte’s auction house in Dublin.

The Heaney poem inspired an anthology of essays originally published as a series in The Irish Times in 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It was one of a number of lots sold to benefit human rights body Amnesty International.

Handwritten on two folios, framed and mounted, the Heaney work had been expected to fetch between €3,000 and €5,000.

Whyte’s auctioned the poem and a number of other lots for Amnesty during its Important Irish Art sale.

A highlight of the event was Paul Henry’s Fisherman in a Currach (1911-13), which sold for €145,000. It had been expected to fetch between €100,000 and €150,000.

Whyte’s managing director Ian Whyte had previously singled out the work - painted shortly after Henry first arrived on Achill Island in 1910 - as a “stunning example” of the artist’s work.

He said the collector thought so too and regretted it being his first Henry because “he found that all the others he was subsequently offered could not equal the one he had”.

The art in last night’s sale was collected over the past 40 years by an anonymous businessman “based in an old estate house outside Dublin”.

Whyte’s said the collector was originally from the north west of Ireland and moved to set up a “successful, nationally known business in Dublin”.

He set up home on the outskirts of the city in “a distinguished old estate house” which he filled over four decades with a collection of art and antiques that reflected “his impeccable and intuitive taste”, the auctioneer said.

Another painting by Henry, The Bog Road (1917-23), sold for €44,000 – below the expected €50,000-€70,000 guide.

Two works by Jack B Yeats were not sold. They were Near Ballycastle (c 1905) which Whyte’s had priced at €12,000-€15,000, and The Pilot (also known as The Captain Goes Abroad) (1925), which had been listed at €50,000-€70,000.

Patrick Leonard’s On the Beach, Co Dublin, listed at €10,000-€15,000, also failed to attract a buyer.

Leonard’s North Beach, Rush, 14 June 1949 sold for €4,800 – a little below the €5,000-€7,000 estimate. His painting Boats Off-Shore, June 1949 sold for €2,900, also a little under the listed €3,000-€5,000.

Works that sold for above their estimated price included William Conor’s Digging Potatoes. The piece had been expected to fetch €10,000-€15,000, but sold for €18,000.

Several of the 12 paintings by William Percy French sold for above their estimate. These included Bringing Home the Turf, which was listed at €3,000-€4,000 but fetched €5,000.

French’s Girl with a Toboggan was purchased for €6,000 – some way above its €2,500-€3,500 estimate. His Bright Sky Over Bog Lake fetched €3,300, a little outside the estimated €2,000-€3,000.

A Harry Kernoff pastel and pencil drawing entitled Dublin Cabby or ‘I’ll leave it to yourself, Sir’ sold for €3,800, also above the €2,000-€3,000 catalogue price.

A Mainie Jellett pencil sketch, Female Nude 1920, went for €2,000. It had been expected to sell for €1,000-€1,500.

Two pieces by Louis Le Brocquy – WB Yeats Study in Purple and WB Yeats Study in Green (both 1991) fetched €1,400 and €1,200 respectively, within the expected price range.