When Jack Butler Yeats died in 1957 he left the contents of his studio to his niece, the artist Anne Yeats who carefully catalogued and managed her uncles sketchbooks, library, correspondence and belongings until she presented the bulk of the material to the National Gallery of Ireland in 1996.
On May 30 next Whytes
will offer an exceptional opportunity to step through the portal of Yeats studio - the private creative space of an artist who was particularly secretive about his working methods. This assortment from the artists studio includes Yeats paint-box, as listed by Anne, several palettes, brushes, palette knives and a number of paint boxes which belonged to the artist. Other interesting items include one of Yeats address books which lists many of his close friends and contacts such as Padraic and Mary Colum in New York, the writer and critic Patrick Kavanagh and the English artist John Piper. A chequebook covering late 1945 to 1947 reveals the ongoing expenditure in Yeats domestic life while prescriptions issued at Portobello House in 1957, the nursing home where the artist spent his final years, offers another poignant insight into his later years. The material also features a quantity of blank Christmas and New Year cards, designed and privately printed by Yeats in the early 1950s as well as critical correspondence relating to the artists estate and the provenance of this archive. Catalogued as lot 49 in Whytes 30 May auction, this unique collection is estimated between 20,000 and 30,000.
Also by Jack B. Yeats are two early watercolours dating to the early 1900s. The first, Only Two in It, 1905 [lot 48, estimated at 25,000-30,000] (listed in Pyle, no. 563) an original dynamic work depicting two speeding horses and jockeys this work was variously exhibited in its day and was later reproduced in the artists well-known Life in the West of Ireland book, published in 1912 (a copy of which will also be under the hammer, lot 45, 200-400). The second, Knocknarea, c.1906 (Pyle, no. 587) shows the ubiquitous West of Ireland men standing by a wall near Rosses Point with the small promontory, Horse Island, beyond. Temptingly estimated at 8,000-10,000 this sale offers a taste of the nations greatest 20th century artist across a wide spectrum of his oeuvre.
The enduring power of Paul Henry RHA never ceases to captivate the auction circuit and this May is no exception. An enduring scene entitled West of Ireland Landscape, 1925-35 [lot 26, estimated at 60,000-80,000] is sure to attract the attention of discerning bidders. The record breaking sale of Paul Henrys Fisherman in a Currach (145,000) in November, the highest price paid for an artwork in Ireland in 2010, is testament to Henrys long-term appeal in the art market and assurance to those eager to possess work by Irelands most coveted artist. West of Ireland Landscape, 1925-35 was last scene publicly almost 25 years ago. At that time it was thought the landscape depicted was that of Clare Island from Achill (Kennedy, S.B., 2007, p.230). Now, following in-depth exploration by Henrys foremost expert, Dr S.B. Kennedy, this view has been catalogued as almost certainly that of Moyteoge and Achill Head, seen from the Keel to Dooagh Road. Dr Kennedys definitive catalogue entry identifies the predominating mountain as Croaghaun and the barely indicated stretch of beach to the right, where the high ground meets the sea, as Keem Strand. A timeless and highly desirable oil from Henrys oeuvre, estimated at 60,000-80,000 is sure to be one of the auction highlights this season.
Of particular interest to Keating aficionados and theatre-goers are five oils by Seán Keating illustrating scenes for The Playboy of the Western World, by John Millington Synge, published by George Allen and Unwin, London, 1927. Striking in composition and colour these works represent an important and prestigious commission for Keating as well as demonstrating the nature and extent of the interconnection between the visual arts and literature in the early years of the Irish Free State. They contain models of contemporary actors and actresses and, perhaps most interesting; Keating himself makes an appearance in the images as Christy Mahons father (lots 33, 36 and 37). Keating even posed entirely nude for lot 37; the only such example within his ouevre. These paintings formed part of the artists own collection and he exhibited them in various venues including the RHA in the late 1920s. An unusual, witty and contextually important series of works, these paintings are variously estimated between 15,000 - 40,000 each.
Joycean delights from Harry Kernoff, an Orpen Self-Portrait and strong examples from Northern artists such as Daniel ONeill add even greater interest for art enthusiasts. Strong works by Irelands leading modern and contemporary artists such as Louis le Brocquy, John Shinnors, Robert Ballagh and Michael Farrell to name but a few are also present. A great opportunity for the collectors of traditional contemporary works presents in a fine collection of three North County Dublin artists James English, Thomas Ryan, Padraig Lynch and Maura Taylor-Buckley. With very reasonable estimates, all priced to sell; pre-sale guides from 500 are sure entice the full spectrum of art patrons.
Viewing for this auction will be at the RDS Clyde Rooms, Anglesea Road, Ballsbridge from Saturday to Monday, 28-30 May 10am to 6pm daily. The auction will take place in the same venue on Monday 30 May at 6pm, and will be broadcast live in sound and vision at www.whytes.ie A superbly produced and expertly researched catalogue will be available by post (5 to Ireland and Britain) or download free at www.whytes.ie prior to the sale.