DUBLIN — Three trademark Irish coastal landscapes by Paul Henry (1877-1958) are included in Adam’s Auctioneers’ Important Irish Art sale on Wednesday, December 6. They include two works that have remained in the original owner’s family since the 1910s and a fine picture from the artist’s later career.
Keem Bay is a textbook work from Henry’s early years living and working on the island of Achill. Not seen in public for more than a century, it was exhibited at Dublin’s Lenister Hall in October 1911, when it was acquired by local collector Samuel Figgis. The Figgises had a cottage in Achill and it is believed that Henry stayed with the family when he made his first visit to the island in the late summer of 1910. The archetypal impoverished artist, Henry later wrote of having to rely on the generosity of others for his food, lodgings and even for his artist’s materials. It is possible he paid his way with the presentation of a painting or two to his benefactors. The estimate is €60,000-€80,000 ($65,565-$87,420).
A second Achill painting provenanced to the Figgis family is Paysage Sinistre (estimated at €50,000-€70,000 or $54,630-$76,490). This atmospheric view of pure landscape and cumulus clouds was bought by Samuel Figgis at the 1915 exhibition Pictures in the West of Ireland by Mr. & Mrs. Paul Henry, held at the Carlton hotel in Belfast.
Estimated at €80,000-€120,000 ($87,420-$131,130) is the oil on canvas board Near Leenane, painted near the head of Killary harbor between 1935 and 1938. At this point in his career, Henry was a master of his craft. The picture is divided into three simple parts: the bogland in the foreground, depicted with short quick strokes; the middle ground, formed as the massing of black turf stacks; and a background dominated by the blue mountains of Maamtrasna and Maamturk on the Galway-Mayo border. The painting was acquired by the vendor in the late 1990s from the Eakin Gallery in Belfast, Ireland.