Seán Keating has become synonymous with the west of Ireland in general, and with the Aran Islands in particular. His association with the western seaboard began as early as 1913 and was further emphasised through a series of self-portraits for which the artist dressed in Aran clothing. There is no evidence that Keating ever met John Millington Synge, but in 1917 the artist exhibited a painting in the RHA titled The Outlandish Lovers, which was inspired by The Playboy of the Western World. Synge’s nephew, known as ‘Hutchie’, approached Keating in 1922 with a commission to paint twelve illustrations for a proposed deluxe volume of The Playboy of the Western World. In the event, ten of the twelve images were published. Sir John Lavery was called upon to inspect the first four illustrations, three of which form part of this collection of five (lots 33, 36 and 37). Lavery was greatly impressed by the realism, colour and artistic invention in the work, and he considered them of great importance to the craft of book illustration in Ireland at that time. The full set of paintings was to have been ready in 1926, but a delay on Keating’s part meant that the book was finally published as a numbered series of one thousand copies in 1927. The publication has since become a collectors’ item.
It was an important and prestigious commission, and Keating took his role as an illustrator of Synge’s work very seriously. As if to expand on Synge’s story, Keating chose scenes from the play that, for the most part, are not seen on stage. Perhaps most interesting of all is that Keating himself makes an appearance in the images as Christy Mahon’s father (lots 33, 36 and 37). Proving his commitment to the commission, the artist even posed entirely nude for the scene in which Christy’s father apparently awakes from the ‘dead.’ It is the only instance of a nude portrait of the artist in his entire career (lot 37). In order to plan the compositions in great detail Keating undertook a series of photographs using models from the school of art. He may also have taken sketches at the theatre because many of the actors of the day appear in the illustrations. Sara Allgood, sister of Molly for whom the role was originally written, appeared as Pegeen Mike in a production of The Playboy of the Western World staged in 1924. The features of the female model wrapping bandages around Christie’s head are very similar to Sara’s, but in this instance she is now the Widow Quin (lot 36). Barry Fitzgerald and F. J. McCormack, who took part in that same production in 1924, also make an appearance in Keating’s illustrations as ‘the hairy gallant fellows’ (lot 34). From 1926 until circa 1936 the role of Pegeen Mike was played by Eileen Crowe, who makes an appearance in Keating’s work in the guise of ‘Helen of Troy’, while a cast of likely-looking prophets, or Abbey actors, appear behind ‘the bars of paradise’ in order to get a look at her (lot 35). The artist makes another appearance as the figure to the left of the group of prophets.
Once the publishers had reproduced the images to the required scale, the original paintings were returned to the artist who exhibited them in various venues in the late 1920s. They are an unusual, witty and yet contextually important series of works that signal the nature and extent of the interconnection between the visual arts and literature in the early years of the Irish Free State.
Dr Éimear O’Connor HRHA
Clare and Tony White post-doctoral research fellow
TRIARC-Irish Art Research Centre, TCD.
- Auction Details
(a) Each lot is put up subject to any reserve price imposed by the vendor
(b) Subject to sub-clause (a) of this clause, the highest bidder for each lot shall be the purchaser thereof
(c) If any dispute arises as to the highest bidder the auctioneer shall have absolute discretion to determine the dispute and may put up again and re-sell the lot in respect of which the dispute arises.
(a) The bidding and advances shall be regulated by and at the absolute discretion of the auctioneer and he shall have the right to refuse any bid or bids. NOTE: Where an agent bids, even on behalf of a disclosed client, the auctioneer nevertheless has the right at his discretion to refuse any such bid.
(b) The purchaser of each lot shall immediately on its sale, if required by the auctioneer, give him the name and address of the purchaser and pay to the auctioneer at his discretion the whole or part of the purchase money. If the purchaser of any lot fails to comply with any such requirement the auctioneer may put up again and re-sell the lot; if upon such re-sale a lower price is obtained than was obtained on the first sale the purchaser in default on the first sale shall make good the difference in price and expenses of re-sale which shall become a debt due from him.
(c) Where an agent purchases on behalf of an undisclosed client such agent shall be personally liable for payment of the purchase money to the auctioneer and for safe delivery of the lot to the said client.
(a) The auctioneer reserves the rights to bid on behalf of clients including vendors, but shall not be liable for errors or omissions in executing instructions to bid.
(b) The auctioneer reserves the rights, before or during a sale, to group together lots belonging to the same vendor, to split up and to withdraw any lot or lots at the auctioneer's absolute discretion and without giving any reason in any case.
(c) The auctioneer acts as agent only, and therefore shall not be liable for any default of the purchaser or vendor.
(a) Each lot shall be at the purchaser's risk from the fall of the hammer and shall be paid for in full before delivery and taken away at his expense within one day of the sale. The buyer will be responsible for all removal, storage and insurance charges in respect of any lot which has not been collected within one day of the date of sale. (b) If any purchaser fails to pay in full for any lot within 21 days of the date of sale such lot may at any time thereafter at the auctioneer's discretion be put up for sale by auction again or sold privately; if upon such re-sale a lower price is obtained than was obtained on the first sale the purchaser in default on the first sale shall make good the difference in price and the expenses of re-sale which shall become debt due from him. (c) Interest at 2 per cent per month and legal costs (if any) for recovery of monies due shall be payable by the purchaser on any overdue account.
(a) Each buyer, by making a bid, acknowledges that he has satisfied himself as to the physical condition, age and catalogue description of each lot (including but not restricted to whether the lot is damaged or has been repaired or restored).
(b) All lots are sold with all faults and imperfections and errors of description and the Auctioneer and its employees, servants or agents shall not be responsible for any error of description or for the condition or authenticity of any lot, save for Clause 5 (c) below. Written or verbal condition reports may be supplied by the Auctioneer on request but these are merely statements of opinion, and any error or omission in these reports may not be taken as grounds for a cancellation of sale or refund of any part of the purchase price or the cost of any repairs to the lot or lots reported on
(c) A purchaser shall be at liberty to reject any lot if he - (i) gives the auctioneer written notice of intention to question the genuineness of the lot within seven days from the date of sale; AND (ii) proves that the lot is a deliberate forgery and (iii) returns to the auctioneer within 20 days from the date of sale the lot in the same condition as it was at the time of sale; provided that the auctioneer may, at his discretion, on receiving a request in writing from the purchaser, extend for a reasonable period the time for return of the lot to enable it to be submitted to expertisation. NOTE: The onus of proving a lot to be a deliberate forgery is on the purchaser.
(d) Where a lot has been submitted to expertisation, all costs of such expertisation shall be paid by the person who retains the certificate of expertisation and item or items to which the certificate relates.
(e) Where the purchaser of a lot discharges the onus and acts in accordance with sub-clause (b) of this clause, the auctioneer shall rescind the sale and repay to the purchaser the purchase money paid by him in respect of the lot.
(f) No lot shall be rejected if, subsequent to the sale, it has been marked by an expert committee or treated by any other process unless the auctioneer's permission to subject the lot to such treatment has first been obtained in writing.
(g) Any lot listed as a "collection, range, portfolio etc." or stated to comprise or contain a collection or range of items which are not described shall be put up for sale not subject to rejection and shall be taken by the purchaser with all (if any) faults, lack of genuineness and errors of description and numbers of items in the lot, and the purchaser shall have no right to reject the lot; except that, notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this sub-clause, where before a sale a person intending to bid at the sale gives notice in writing to, and satisfies the auctioneer that any such lot contains any item or items undescribed in the sale catalogue and that person specifically describes that item or those items in that notice, then that item or those items shall, as between the auctioneer and that person, to be taken to form part of the description of the lot.
The respective rights and obligations of the parties shall be governed and interpreted by Irish law, and the buyer hereby submits to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Irish Courts.
a) The buyer shall pay the Auctioneer a commission at the rate of 20% up to and including €3 million, and 13.5% of that part of the hammer price over €3 million. The Buyer's Premium is added to the hammer price of all lots and is subject to VAT at the prevailing rate.
(b) The Auctioneer or its employees, servants or agents may, on request organise packing and shipping of lots purchased or may order on the buyer's behalf third parties to pack or ship purchases. Under no circumstances does the Auctioneer accept any liability whatsoever for any loss or damage howsoever occasioned in the course of such service.
(c) The buyer authorises the Auctioneer to use any photographs or illustrations of any lot purchased for any or all purposes as the Auctioneer may require. The placing of a bid will be taken as full agreement to all the above conditions.
WHYTE AND SONS AUCTIONEERS LIMITED, 2018.
Timed auctions do not have an auctioneer calling the bids – there’s just a bidding time frame and whoever bids highest during the time frame wins. Each lot can be bid on for a defined time period. At the end of this period, the bidder who has submitted the highest bid wins the lot, provided the bid exceeds the reserve price. You tell us the most you’re willing to pay – and we’ll bid intelligently for you, only bidding enough for you to meet the reserve or stay in the lead. Don’t worry, your maximum bid is not disclosed, and is held in confidence on our bidding system.
WHEN ONLINE BIDDING STARTS – FROM 10AM ON 2 JUNE TO 14 JUNE (ENDING 6pm-10pm approximately) - YOU CAN LEAVE BIDS and your bid will start at one step above the previous bid or at the start price if no other bid. You will be notified by email if you get outbid before the auction starts.
ONCE THE AUCTION BEGINS TO FINISH ON 14 JUNE EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS CEASE and you should follow the auction on-line to see how your bids are doing. Make sure you have logged in if you wish to bid.
WHEN THE AUCTION BEGINS TO FINISH ON 14 JUNE the bidding for each lot remains open for 45 seconds at a start price determined by the reserve or bids already received. Each lot will be open and remain open for bidding until its end time is reached; the end time will be extended by 60 seconds if another bid is received. At the end time, if there are no further bids and the highest bid received equals or exceeds the re serve price the lot is sold to highest bidder.
HOW TO BID:
• Log in or register at www.bid.whytes.ie
• Visit the timed online auction catalogue
• Find the lot number you are interested in.
· The current highest bid will be displayed
• The minimum bid required to beat the highest bid will also be shown.
· You can place your bid. The screen will show the new highest bid and will indicate if that bid is yours. Note: if a previous bidder has left a bid that equals yours the previous bidder will win the lot unless you outbid them. If the screen doesn’t confirm that your bid is winning you will need to bid again if you wish to buy the lot. Don’t worry -the system will not allow you to bid against yourself.
• The timed lots will close at the specified date and time and will close in chronological order with 45 seconds between each lot
• Invoices will be issued to successful bidders on Tuesday 15 June.
NOTE: we cannot arrange telephone bidding for this auction but you can leave absentee bids by email to email@example.com or by telephone to 01 6762888 or by post to Whyte’s, 38 Molesworth Street, Dublin D02 KF80
Up to €300 x€10
Up to €700 x €20
Up to €1,300 x €50
Up to €3,000 x €100
Up to €7,000 x €200
Up to €13,000 x €500
Up to €30,000 x €1,000
Up to €40,000 x €2,000
Up to €70,000 x €2,000
Up to €130,000 x €5,000
Up to €500,000 x €10,000
A FEW TIPS FOR ABSENTEE BIDDERS:
Bid the maximum price you would pay for the lot; we will try and secure the lot for you at the lowest possible price. For instance if you bid €2,000 on a lot and the highest other bid we receive is €1,200 you get it for €1,250. Most people tend to bid in round numbers, e.g. €500. It’s often a good idea to bid an odd number, e.g. €520, or €540 which will outbid an even number. Check the results the day after the sale: these are published on our website www.whytes.ie at about 10am on the day after the sale. Successful bidders are also notified of results by mail.
Buyers Premium of 20%plus VAT (24.6% in total) will be added to your winning bid amount. Your invoice will detail all the payment, collection and shipping particulars. There is no additional fee for bidding online with Whyte's
TIE BIDS: if two or more equal bids are received the lot will be sold to the first received.