Yeats and Lavery feature in autumn sales

Lavery’s last painting, a giant bronze wolfhound and a Jack B Yeats formerly owned by Peter O’Toole are some of the highlights

It’s that time of year when a run of important Irish art hits the secondary market, through some of the largest auction houses across Ireland and the UK.

De Vere’s online art sale, ending Tuesday, November 22nd, has some important works from private collections, including a number of Irish 18th-century landscapes. It is worth checking out the company’s website for its videos, where experts Frances Ruane, Eamonn Maille and William Laffan, as well as John de Vere White and Rory Guthrie from the auction house, discuss upcoming highlights in the sale. A great companion to the catalogue, they give those unable to visit the showroom at 35 Kildare Street an opportunity to get close-up visuals of colour and brushwork, in addition to some expert observances.

On John Doherty’s work, Daly’s, Kildare (€15,000-€20,000), de Vere White discusses how he met art critic Brian Fallon at one of Doherty’s exhibitions at the Taylor Gallery, who described the artist as “the finest photorealist painter in the British Isles”.

On Doherty’s superb likeness to the original subject, de Vere White does justice to the Kilkenny artist, who studied architecture in Bolton Street, before moving to Sydney, by describing the work as “haunting”.


A work formerly owned by Lennox Robinson is Sir John Lavery’s Dublin Horse Show, 1928. It was given to Robinson by American-born Lady Hazel Lavery whose likeness appeared on Irish banknotes for the greater part of the 20th century. In 1931 poet and playwright Robinson - who made the Abbey Theatre his life - was about to be married to Dolly Travers Smith. Lady Lavery who shared Robinson’s and indeed Yeats’s Celtic revival vision, was a great friend of the dramatist and gave the painting as a wedding gift (€100,000-€150,000).

Further provenance of interest is Jack B Yeats, The Train through the Woods, described in catalogue notes as “atmospheric” where the artist “captures a train journey through bright, leafy woods, the shifting leaves which can be seen through the windows providing a contrast to the dark interior of the carriage”.

The painting was formerly in the collection of actor Peter O’Toole, who was rejected by the Abbey Theatre’s drama school as he could not speak Irish, and became best known for his portrayal of TE Lawrence in the 1962 film, Lawrence of Arabia (€60,000-€90,000). Included in the collection of Irish 18th-century landscape paintings are works by Sir William Ashford, George Barrett, James Arthur O’Connor and Nathaniel Grogan.

Auction debut

Meanwhile, two works by Jack B Yeats, both from the same private collection, will feature at Sotheby’s Modern British and Irish Art sale, on November 23rd. Going to the Races (£200,000-£300,000/€230,400-€345,600), described as a “fantastic early work”, was last seen on the secondary market in 1989, while Sunday Morning (£150,000-£250,000/€172,800-€288,000), is making its auction debut.

Both are currently on view this weekend at the Royal Hibernian Academy (where it is also really worth trying to get a table at its superb Margadh restaurant).

Lavery’s last painting

Gerard Dillon’s The Fisherman’s Cottage, depicting Inishlacken in Roundstone, described as a “fantastic rediscovery”, also makes its first public appearance (£80,000-£120,000/€92,170-€138,300). Another Dillon, Village on the Hill (£40,000-£60,000/ €46,100-€69,130), which recently surfaced in the United States, can be found in Sotheby’s Irish Art online sale, which opens for bidding from November 16th until November 22nd. Also listed is a lively Paul Henry seascape, The Entrance to Killary Bay (£40,000-£60,000/€46,100-€69,130), and Sir John Lavery’s last painting, Gypsies in Ireland (£20,000-£30,000/€23,000-€34,600), which has passed through the artist’s family. Contemporary artists include Linda Brunker, John Behan and Rowan Gillespie, whose wonderful bronze, The Settlers, is listed at £20,000-£30,000/€22,960-€34,443.

Art Source

A mammoth bronze of one of Ireland’s most iconic contemporary sculptures, Patrick O’Reilly’s Wolfhound, will be at Art Source this weekend at the RDS in Dublin. Extending to two metres in height, the bronze, which is listed at €110,000, will form the centrepiece of a unique sculpture garden, with 45 Irish and international artists at Gormley’s stand. O’Reilly says he was inspired to create the series of wolfhounds after reading about Empress Elisabeth of Austria, a lover of all things Irish who was often photographed with Irish wolfhounds at her feet. Art Source has 160 exhibitors, entry is €10 and accompanied children under 16 are free.

Curiosities in Cork

On November 16th, Hegarty’s of Bandon will hold its Blue Room live online auction. Highlights of the 300 lots include a Killarney Ware work table from 1860, which is a super example of marquetry, depicting Muckross Abbey with an inlaid panel of harps and shamrocks (€1,000-€2,000). Curiosities include a (possibly) Indian silver cane/parasol handle topper (€100-€200); a “Grenade” table lighter (€80-€150) and an Indian silver letter or toast rack, possibly from the 19th century, with a handle that ends with a shamrock. The mark suggests it was made from Indian coins (€80-€150).

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables