Artist’s 1950 ‘masterpiece’ could fetch record €2m

Coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of the country’s most important artists, two upcoming sales will test the market for the year that has been dedicated to Jack B Yeats.

Following on from the ongoing exhibition, Painting and Memory in the Beit Wing of the National Gallery and The Man Who Painted Ireland, the insightful documentary about the artist which is still available on RTÉ Player, Whyte’s of Molesworth Street recently announced that he expects a new record could be set for a work by Yeats at his major sale of Irish art.

Lot 37, titled Shouting, a very large canvas from 1950, “could fetch 2 million euros or more”, according to the auction house. At over 100cm by 150cm, it is the largest canvas ever painted by Yeats. He created six of them – of which only two are in private hands – and now one of them, Shouting, will be auctioned next Monday at the RDS.

Describing the work as a “truly magnificent masterpiece” and “of epic proportions . . . a trophy of Irish art of national significance”, auctioneer Ian Whyte reiterates the historian’s words to Yeats and compiler of the artist’s catalog raisonné, Hilary Pyle, who describes the painting as “one of the artist’s greatest achievements”. and one with one arm in the air in a position the devil may care – is listed between 1.5 and 2 million euros.

Through the streets to the hills, Jack B Yeats €100,000 – €150,000, Adam’s

Previous records

Yeats’ previous records include selling Whyte’s and Christie’s Ernie O’Malley in 2019, when Reverie made €1.4 million (including fees); The Wild Ones, on which the hammer fell at a premium of 1.31 million euros at Sotheby’s, London in May 1999; and A Fair Day, Mayo, which was previously owned by actress Vivien Leigh and would remind her of Gone with the Wind, which made €1 million over a decade ago at Adam’s in 2011.

Limerick residents may be familiar with the work as it was loaned to the University of Limerick over the past decade. Other notable works in the sale, all on display this weekend at the Royal Dublin Society, include two works by Grace Henry: Marigolds and Fortune Teller, €2,000-€3,000 and €5,000-€7,000 respectively, and Anne Madden, widow of Louis le Brocquy, is an impressive Deep Stream diptych painted towards the end of his Pompeii and Garden series (€10,000 – €15,000).

On Wednesday December 8, Adam’s, of St Stephen’s Green, a major sale of Irish art will also present strong offers from the same period. Through the Streets to the Hills, by Yeats, painted in 1950, depicts a view of Fitzwilliam Street in Dublin where Yeats lived until he retired to a house in Portobello. This late work depicts two men, smartly dressed, in a sunny breach walking deliberately towards Leeson Street, with the Georgian houses of upper Fitzwilliam Street cast in shadow against a view of the Dublin mountains in the distance (€100,000 – €150,000).

How Many Miles to London Town references Colin Middleton’s recurring theme of the horrors of the Blitz and World Wars. Listed with an estimate of €30,000 to €50,000, it stands alongside two other important works by the modernist painter. The Trojan Horse is said to be his reaction to the Spanish Civil War (€15,000-€20,000) while Abstract with Toy Train, a more cheerful work was commissioned in the early 1970s for Morelli’s ice cream parlor on the seafront in Portstewart, Co Derry (€20,000-€30,000).

Abstract with Toy Train, Colin Middleton, €20,000 - €30,000 Adam's

Abstract with Toy Train, Colin Middleton, €20,000 – €30,000 Adam’s

A Cove in Lake Garda, Letitia M Hamilton €8,000- €12,000, Whyte's

A Cove in Lake Garda, Letitia M Hamilton €8,000- €12,000, Whyte’s

Le Brocquy

No sale of Irish art is complete without the Brocquy, and here the artist is well represented with Ancestral Head, which stems from his interest in skulls from an exhibition at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris in 1964 (60 €000 – €80,000). The Study after a Death Concubine, based on an Egyptian limestone statuette from the Louvre, is more influenced by French museums, but the catalog suggests it may have had a much more personal inspiration.

“His wife, Anne, had a difficult spine operation due to inherited injuries from a riding accident, with a long recovery and the spine pattern, if not the injury, and the concept of fragility , are at the heart of the Presence paintings.” (€40,000 – €60,000).

Bathers, Daniel O'Neill, €40,000 - €60,000, Whyte's

Bathers, Daniel O’Neill, €40,000 – €60,000, Whyte’s

Portrait of Lucian Freud in Patrick Swift's Hatch Street Studio, Patrick Swift, €20,000 - €30,000, Adam's

Portrait of Lucian Freud in Patrick Swift’s Hatch Street Studio, Patrick Swift, €20,000 – €30,000, Adam’s

Three paintings by Paul Henry are worth between €70,000 and €100,000 for Western Lake and Mountain Landscape, €100,000 – €150,000 for Bogland, Connemara, and up to €140,000 – €180,000 for the Classics Cottages and Turfstacks in the West of Ireland. Two of the paintings featured in the 1993 Hugh Lane Gallery exhibition of the work of the artist and his first wife Grace and Bogland, Connemara were illustrated on the catalog cover.

Appearing for the first time, having never been seen outside the artist’s family, is Patrick Swift’s self-explanatory Portrait of Lucian Freud in Patrick Swift’s Hatch Street Studio, which is listed between 20,000 and €30,000.

The works from the live online sale will be visible in the auction room from Friday 3 December.

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