A WINTER LAVERY LEADS WHYTE’S EXCEPTIONAL IRISH ART SALE
Whyte’s Winter 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 4 December 2023 133 lots of Irish art will be offered for auction at Whyte’s.
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 November to Friday 1 December 10am to 5pm, Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 December, 1pm to 5pm and Monday 4 December – 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.
Sir John Lavery was an internationally renowned Irish painter at the turn of the 20th century, and the only Irishman to receive the Freedom of both Dublin and Belfast in the inter-war period, in a divided Ireland. He is the subject of a major exhibition currently running at the National Gallery of Ireland titled ‘Lavery. On Location.’ The top lot in the sale is Lavery’s exquisite oil Switzerland [Hazel and Alice], 1913 (lot 18, €180,000-€220,000, illustrated above). Prof. Kenneth McConkey, curator of the National Gallery exhibtion, writes in Whyte’s catalogue ‘In the summer of 1912 Lavery was commissioned to paint the British Royal Family at Buckingham Palace and sittings were booked in the King's and Queen's diaries for the following February.The arrangements meant that the painter's annual four month sojourn at his house in Tangier had to be abandoned and a shorter winter holiday substituted at Wengen in Switzerland. The 'holiday' proved to be one of the most concentrated painting episodes of Lavery's life. The present canvas is one of four featuring Hazel and Alice. It is however, the remarkable spontaneity of the present canvas that makes it stand out among the Wengen group.’
A very different but equally impactful Lavery work, titled London Hospital, 1914 (€60,000-€80,000, illustrated above) is also listed as lot 19 in the auction. When the first world war broke out Lavery quickly realized that his best way to support the effort was through his work, but Government restrictions blocked his early ambitions to equip a motor-bus and drive to the Western Front. So instead he arranged to paint the wounded at London Hospital. The 'London' had been the first hospital to receive casualties in the early weeks of the war. At least two views of the ward were painted alongside the present canvas, and these became the source material from which Wounded, London Hospital, 1915 (currently on show at the National Gallery of Ireland) was painted. The finished picture was shown at the Royal Academy in 1915 where one critic described it as 'the most remarkable achievement'.
Paul Henry arrived in Achill in 1910 armed with the latest avant-garde techniques. He felt like an outsider. “I was spying out the land and it seemed exceedingly good.” Dooega, Achill Isalnd (lot 22, €150,000-€200,000, illustrated above) is evidence of how he made an ally of the beauty of the place and captured the intimacy of the small island village. The artist peers up at the village perched on top of the sandbank, and at the clouds behind looming over the rim of the earth. The scene is mainly composed of five cottages, some trees and a glimpse of the mountain behind squeezed into the bottom third of the canvas with the sky filling the other two thirds.The work was in the same private collection since the 1920s before being sold at Adam’s in 2006 where it fetched a hammer price of €220,000. (€321,000 including preium and VAT)
By 1937 Henry was painting the Irish landscape with aplomb having been working as an artist in Ireland for 27 years. A Mountain Stream Carna (lot 25, €70,000-€90,000, illustrated above) is an accomplished work most probably finished and polished in the studio from a smaller painted sketch done en plein air in western Connemara, an area full of lakes and mountain streams. This painting is an example of Henry at the peak of his career when he was exhibiting regularly in America and Ireland and by which time he had accumulated much knowledge of Connemara landscapes.
A Christmas Goose Girl
Painted for exhibition at the annual Royal Hibernian Academy show in 1918, The Goose Girl, 1917 (lot 36, €25,000-€35,000, illustrated above) by Seán Keating features the artist’s sister, Veronica, known as Vera (1895-1953), posed to emulate William Orpen's painting of a similar theme, The Dead Ptarmigan (1909). Keating had not yet been elected an RHA member, a position that was considered essential to the development of an artist's professional career at the time. The composition is a well-considered homage to Orpen, and a demonstration of the range of painterly capacity appropriate for an artist seeking recognition from his peers, which ultimately proved successful. Keating was elected an Associate or ARHA in 1918, and the following year, in late 1919, he was appointed to the role of part time teacher of anatomy at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. There are also four Keating drawings on offer ranging from €1,500-€5,000 including a portrait of his son Justin Keating (lot 33, €2,000-€3,000) as a young boy. Justin went on to become was a distinguished lecturer, broadcaster and politician. He was a labour TD from 1965 to 1977, and later an MEP. He served as Minister for Industry and Commerce from 1973 to 1977. Keating’s former mentor William Orpen is represented by a number of sketches and drawings (lots 1-5, estimates between €2,000-€5,000) and a charming watercolour study The Bathers, 1900 (lot 6, €8,000-€12,000).
Mary Swanzy’s Sur le Bord de la Forêt [On The Edge of The Forest] (lot 37, €25,000-€35,000, illustrated above) was included in the 2018 landmark retrospective exhibition - Voyages - at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), which described Mary Swanzy as 'arguably Ireland's first 'Modernist' painter'. In the Voyages exhibition catalogue the painting comes under the heading of 'Surrealism', a chapter which opens with a quote from The Times on 26 September 1934: 'Miss Swanzy may be described as a Surrealist working in a Cubist Convention. Maine Jellett, contemporary of Swanzy, was also a pioneer of Modernism in Ireland.
Abstract Composition, c.1929 (lot 40, €10,000-€15,000,) is a wonderful example of the artist’s Cubist style and was included in her retrospective exhibition at the Hugh Lane Gallery in 1962.
The period of the early 1950s is when Gerard Dillon, with fellow northern artists George Campbell, Arthur Armstrong and James MacIntyre rented a house on Inishlacken Island and formed, for a short but important period, an island 'school' of painting. Dillon’s On the Beach (lot 46, €20,000-€30,000, illustrated above) dates from this period. It is a work of immense charm and depicts a sunny Connemara day, the foreground figure is the artist himself while the upper male figure appears in many of his works especially his famous 'The London Flat' where he is posed wearing a uniform. James MacIntyre is represented in the sale by an oil titled Woman Peeling Potatoes (lot 49, €3,000-€4,000) while Arthur Armstrong’s Low Tide is listed as lot 48 (€1,500-€2,000).
A sizeable oil of Toledo by George Campbell is expected to fetch €15,000-€20,000 (lot 50, illustrated above). Campbell, in the company of his wife Madge and Gerard Dillon, first visited Spain towards the end of 1951. Following this initial trip he and Madge travelled annually to Andalucía, for the winter months particularly, and his first solo exhibition was held in Torremolinos in the mid 1950s.
Watch out for… notable works by Aloysius O’Kelly, William Leech, Tony O’Malley, Patrick Scott, Pauline Bewick, Louis le Brocquy and more. There are small collections of works by Nathaniel Hone, Letitia Hamilton and Patrick Hennessy. Sculpture includes works from Rowan Gillespie, John Behan, Anthony Scott and Frederick Edward McWilliam. Auction favourites include Arthur Maderson, Kenneth Webb, Mark O’Neill and a number of examples from the ever popular Graham Knuttel and Markey Robinson.
All the artworks are on display with full descriptions and several with insightful notes from art experts at www.whytes.ie.