open the autumn auction season with Irish & International Art on 28 September. The diverse sale boasts an exceptional collection by some of the most significant names in Irish art, some rarely seen on the secondary market. The auction will take place at the RDS, Ballsbridge on Monday 28 September at 6pm. Viewing will be open to the public from Saturday to Monday 26 to 28 September, 10am to 6pm.
A conversation piece by Galway artist Joseph Patrick Haverty leads Whytes autumn collection which comprises a number of interesting historical paintings. Havertys Group Portrait of A Family, c.1850 [lot 30, 30,000-50,000] shows a family in the midst of disembarking from their painted rowing boat. The attention to detail in the costumes of the figures in this scene is astonishing, while each figure is treated as a specific portrait.
By the 1850s, when this work was painted, illustrated magazines informed people beyond London or Paris of the latest fashions. Both men here wear high collars with cravats. The father's morning coat has a cut away front in contrast to that worn by the younger man, who holds an oar to steady their boat. A man's wealth was read by how well his womenfolk dressed. This group being predominantly female makes the whole scene more colourful, detailed and intriguing. The necklines show their shoulders, with half sleeves and ankle length hems. The young women wear their hair in fashionable side ringlets with centre partings. Some of their outdoor bonnets are left informally untied while others sport parasols and gloves. Children by this time were no longer dressed like miniature adults but babies and young boys were dressed identically to girls and could be indistinguishable until ready for breeches. The painting, which measures 48 by 61ins., is presented in a wonderful gilt frame befitting for a fine period home. Based on the size and quality of the work it is possible it was exhibited at the RHA as A Family Group in 1851.
OCONNELL IN CANVAS
The Consecration of The Roman Catholic Church of St. Mary's, Pope's Quay, Cork, c.1842 is the subject of James Mahonys canvas [lot 29, 8,000-10,000] which was presented to Kearns Deane the architect of St. Marys and brother of the famous Sir Thomas Deane. The painting is of great importance in Mahony's oeuvre because it was executed in his home city and is among his earliest exhibited works. This interior scene is of historical significance in that it shows an important public ceremony in a newly-built Catholic Church shortly after Catholic emancipation had been introduced and it includes the figure of The Liberator Daniel O'Connell in the congregation. Kearns Deane, although of Protestant faith, carried out the designs for the church free charge. The painting has been passed down through the Deane family by descent to the present owner. It has not been seen publically since it was exhibited at the RHA, Dublin in 1842.
THE MOST PAINTABLE - NOT TO SAY THE BEST DRESSED - ENGLISHMAN I KNEW
This is how Sir John Lavery recalled Hugh Cecil Lowther, 5th Earl of Lonsdale [lot 21, 25,000-40,000]. In 1929 Lavery was commission by the city of Doncaster to paint a large portrait of the The Yellow Earl to hang in its Mansion House. A state portrait followed a set of conventions which focused chiefly on status and power rather than personality. This work - an oil sketch for the commission, now in the Doncaster Museum - marries these requirements with a lively rendering of a true character. In his face, marked by years in the boxing ring, Laverys gift for translating personality into paint comes to the fore.
The Earl was not expected to inherit the title and in his youth had to be rescued from unwise entanglements by his family - he ran away from Eton to join the circus, and then sold his inheritance to invest in a cattle ranch in Wyoming which failed and later he disgraced himself by having an affair with an actress. In his later years he settled down to enjoy himself in sporting activities, becoming first President of the National Sporting Club, then inaugurating the Lonsdale Belt for boxing in 1909 and becoming a Senior Steward at the Jockey Club. Later he chaired both the Automobile Association and Arsenal Football Club. Lonsdales name was immortalised in 1959 when it was used for a range of boxing equipment and clothing, further cementing the Earls name to the sport to this date.
Lot 21 was an essential and important work in terms of recording detail required in the Earls regalia. As is often the case, works of this type have a freshness and spontaneity which grand manner productions sometimes lack.
PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD - FRONTISPIECE
[Lot 46, 35,000-45,000] by SeŠn Keating is the graphic oil painting that graces the cover of the autumn catalogue. It is one of a series of 10 oils which became illustrations for John Millington Synges deluxe edition of his 3 act play published in 1927. There is no evidence that Keating ever met the playwright but in 1922 Synge's nephew approached Keating with the commission to accompany the publication. It was an important and prestigious task which the artist took very seriously, and 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, seen in the present lot holding the scythe.
Once the publishers had reproduced the images the original paintings were returned to the artist. This work was exhibited at the RHA, Dublin in 1923 and marked an important interconnection between the visual arts and literature in Ireland in the early years of the Irish Free State. Lot 46 featured on a commemorative stamp issued by An Post, for the centenary of Synges death 2009. An example of the deluxe edition of The Playboy of the Western World is also offered in the sale, lot 50 400-600.
THE PAST IN THE PRESENT
[Lot 66, 25,000-35,000] unites two of Gerard Dillons primary sources of inspiration: the landscape of the west of Ireland and medieval carving. In several paintings Dillon uses the panel structure that he admired on high crosses and divides the image up into sections bordered by stone walls. In The Past in the Present this device is adapted so that a western landscape is framed by a doorway surrounded by 7 painted panels that look like carved stone. The largest panel depicts two monk-like figures in robes who have shaved heads and what Dillon calls walrus moustaches. The smaller panels are occupied by animals and figures including a cat, snake, birds and two praying figures. The inspiration for many of these animals and figures can be traced to the Irish medieval carvings that Dillon saw in the Boyne Valley where he travelled with fellow artist, Drogheda woman Nano Reid [lots 61 to 63, guides from 500]. Interestingly, it was SeŠn Keatings paintings of the Playboy of the Western World that inspired Dillon to travel to Connemara in 1939. It has been suggest that, that trip west was perhaps the most important event in the artists life.
The west also provides the backdrop to two delightful early examples by Louis le Brocquy from an important Irish collection formed in the 1940s offered as lot 59 and lot 60, 6,000-8,000 each. The subject of both is Achill, the landscape and its people, executed in his distinctive style using expressive line and colour. An earlier view of Achill Sound by Roscommon artist and entertainer Percy French can be found in lot 36, 4,000-6,000.
Maquette for W.B. Yeats, Sligo, 1989 by Rowan Gillespie [lot 103, 8,000-10,000] is sure to attract attention from the laureates spiritual home, particularly in this, the 150th anniversary year of his birth. The statue, located outside Ulster Bank on Stephen Street, Sligo, was jointly commissioned by the Adhoc Yeats Sculpture Committee, Ulster Bank and the local community.
Among the modern masters to entice is the typically limited palette of Limerick man John Shinnors. He represented with two oils, Estuary, Evening III and Terrible Day, Loop Head, Co. Clare [lots 110 & 111, 3,500-4,500 & 8,000-10,000 respectively]. A sizeable oil with an attractive guide by J.B. Vallely titled Musicians [lot 107, 12,000-15,000] is also likely to lure the astute buyer. International names such as Marc Chagall, Tribes of Israel, 1973 [lot 101, 2,000-3,000] and Henri Matisse, Nu Pour Cleveland, 1932 [lot 105, 4,000-6,000] offer Irish buyers the chance to acquire major names on home soil. Of Irish blood, Sean Scully - who celebrated his 70th this year and is the subject of two major exhibitions currently in the National Gallery, Dublin and the Crawford, Cork features with two works, Barcelona Noche, 2005 and Barcelona Robe, 2005 [lots 108 & 109, 4,000-6,000 & 3,000-5,000 respectively]. Other names to looks out for: Basil Blackshaw, George Campbell, Yvonne Jammet, William Crozier, Edward McGuire, Maurice MacGonigal, SeŠnMcSweeney, Gladys Maccabe, Markey Robinson and many others.