Whyte’s spring auction of Important Irish art promises to deliver another exciting opportunity for collectors to acquire rare artworks of outstanding quality and enduring value. On Monday 6 March 2023, 139 lots of Irish art will be offered for auction.
The auction will take place at the Freemasons Hall, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 and online at bid.whytes.ie. Viewing takes place at Whyte’s Galleries in Molesworth Street from Monday 27 February to Friday 3 March, 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 4 & 5 March, 1pm to 5pm and Monday 6 March – day of sale - 10am to 4pm. Useful features include extra photographs of each work, including domestic settings, as well the Art Realizer free App to project pictures to scale on walls to see if a work will suit your home or office; frame sizes and condition reports for every lot are published on our website, and, most importantly, Whyte’s provide a lifetime guarantee for every lot in the sale.
An iconic view of the West of Ireland from the 1940s by Paul Henry holds the top guide in the auction [Lot 24, illustrated above] of €100,000-€150,000. For those looking to invest in a work of lasting value this example includes all the elements characteristic to his oeuvre; thatched cottages on an isolated country road with a mountain range in the distance and thick cumulous clouds dominating a vast sky. It is thought to represent a scene on Atlantic Drive, Achill.
As an artist Norah McGuinness' technique was in constant flux, frequently absorbing new techniques and assimilating them to suit her own intuitive style. During her long career she found a balance between her design work and her painting and brought influences from each field into the other. Unlike her contemporaries, Mainie Jellett and Evie Hone, who also studied under André Lhote, McGuinness did not fully adopt the Cubist approach but rather fashioned elements of it with a Fauvist appreciation of colour to create her own unique reading of her subject. There are seven works from the artist on offer including November on the Liffey, 1948 (Lot 37, €8,000-€12,000, illustrated above) and Self Portrait, 1942 (lot 37, €5,000-€7,000, illustrated above). A later oil, Coastal Town by Moonlight, 1962 (lot 48, €7,000-€9,000) should also attract bidders.
Other works by Irish female artists of the same period include The Businessman by Mary Swanzy (lot 41, €6,000-€8,000) and a very early work by Mainie Jellett, painted on one of her first visits to Europe, titled Ávila, Spain, 1920s (lot 40, €6,000-€8,000, illustrated above). The work has an interesting provenance, having been gifted by the artist to Sarah Purser and later gifted to the artist Rosaleen Davey.
Early in his career Daniel O’Neill was introduced to French art - Cezanne, Picasso et al - by Sidney Smith and Gerard Dillon. He spent some months in France circa 1948/9, most likely encouraged and supported by Victor Waddington, painting street scenes in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris. He he also travelled outside the French capital. Pau, in southwest France, is close to Spain and located between the sea and the Pyrenees mountains. The composition of 'Old Houses, Pau' (lot 52, €20,000-€30,000, illustrated above) extends, by horizontally layered and ascending stages, from a river side view of houses and their brightly coloured reflections in the water to a panoramic view of the blue green mountains and luminous sky. Another striking example by the artist is Mother and Child, listed as lot 53 (€15,000-€20,000, illustrated above). O'Neill was a consummate figurative artist often drawing upon the Italian tradition for his stylistic treatment of female figures; 'Mother and Child' is a recurrent theme in his work. He regularly painted females, taken out of time in historical and exotic clothing in both interior and landscape settings.
Completed in 1976, Colin Middleton’s The Dark Lady (lot 56, €25,000-€35,000, illustrated above) is one of the later works that relate to, and develop, ideas from his extended Wilderness Series. As with much of Middleton's work the Wilderness Series, mostly painted between 1972 and 1974, brings together various inspirations and ideas that relate to his life at that time as well as continuing themes from throughout his career. The Dark Lady shares with the Wilderness Series its sense of a vast but undefined space, recalling Middleton's time in Australia and on board ship, with imagery that also remains ambiguous. There is an emphasis on texture, which might be connected with Middleton's design background, a source of ideas and possibilities that he often returned to in the 1960s and 1970s.
Stephen McKenna was born in London and studied there at the Slade School of Art. In 1973 he moved to Donegal. He also lived in Belgium, Germany, and Italy. In the late 1980s, living in Italy and having absorbed the lessons of Roman and Etruscan art, Stephen McKenna produced the beginnings of a long series of paintings of interiors. Marmara Dawn, 2009 (lot 86, €15,000-€20,000, illustrated above) is a sizeable work (42 by 62in.) painted by the artist in his final year as president of the RHA.
Strange Days 2003 (lot 89, €20,000-€30,000, illustrated above) by Jim Fitzpatrick, which depicts singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor, was originally commissioned for a Dublin nightclub, Lillie’s Bordello, that was being refurbished due to a fire, but was ultimately purchased by the sitter, at her then husband’s insistence – he didn’t like the idea of an image of his naked wife on display in a nightclub! Compositionally it references Roderic O’Conor’s Reclining Nude (NGI) – in turn a tribute to Velázquez’ Rokeby Venus. The view through the window shows the Pigeon House area of Dublin, an area of particular significance for O’Connor – she was living nearby at the time and was included at her request. Jim Fitzpatrick is a Dublin born painter and graphic designer whose work draws strongly on Ireland’s Celtic mythology. For the past forty years his work has become familiar to many in the form of posters, book jacket designs and album covers. He has also written and illustrated numerous books and designed a stained-glass window for Bewley’s Café‚ in Mary Street, Dublin. he created the graphic reproduction of Alberto Korda’s photograph of Ché Guevara that has become a worldwide icon. He has long been a friend of O’Connor’s and designed the cover of her album, Faith and Courage, which was released in June 2000.
Donald Teskey's Docklands series of paintings coincide with a consolidation of a significant broadening of his work. That is, a phase when the coastal landscape of the west of Ireland became a vital source of inspiration for him. On the western seaboard, the Atlantic is dominant, vast and inescapable, shaping, scouring and defining the terrain. In retrospect it is as if, when Teskey was back in Dublin, he couldn't get the Atlantic out of his mind, and was prompted to turn his attention to the sea at his doorstep, the Irish Sea. His Docklands paintings explore the edges of the tidal Liffey, then a relatively unchanged, deeply weathered sector of the city, curiously intimate with its close mix of industry and habitation. Docklands VII, 2002 (lot 81, illustrated above) is guiding at €30,000-€40,000. Other examples on offer are Autumn Coastline (lot 82, €20,000-€30,000, illustrated above) and Downpatrick Head II, 1997 (lot 83, €15,000-€20,000, illustrated above).
Watch out for… notable works by Louis le Brocquy, William Leech, Grace Henry, Jack Yeats, Maurice MacGonigal, Lilian Lucy Davison, Patrick Hennessy, and Patrick Collins. Auction favourites include Arthur Maderson, Pauline Bewick, Liam O’Neill Peter Collis and a number of examples from the ever popular Graham Knuttel and Markey Robinson. Sculptures include interesting works by James McKenna, Patrick O’Reilly and Olivia Musgrave.
All the artworks are on display with full descriptions and several with insightful notes from art experts at www.whytes.ie. The auction will be broadcast live on the internet at bid.whytes.ie, collectors around the world can bid live from their computers, smart TV’s, mobile phones or android devices. There is no extra charge for bidding on-line.