Sotheby’s is seizing on a revival of interest in Irish art by putting on a show of some of the finest in Dublin – and then selling it in London next month.
The events feature leading artists of the 20th century including Sir John Lavery, Sir William Orpen, Jack Butler Yeats, Walter Osborne, Paul Henry, Roderic O’Conor, along with Louis le Brocquy, who died in 2012. In an innovative move, there is also a selection of works by contemporary Irish artists.
The sale marks the 20th anniversary since the time when Sotheby’s became the first international auction house to hold dedicated sales of Irish art.
“Over the past two years our global buyer base has expanded,” says Arabella Bishop, head of Sotheby’s Ireland. The loyal following of collectors seen from the first sale in 1995 is now bolstered by more demand from those outside Ireland, she said.
Among the works is Lavery’s “Japanese Switzerland,” an oil-on-panel work with an estimate of £300,000 to £500,000 (as much as €685,000 or about $760,000.) Lavery’s family was visiting Wengen, in the Bernese Oberland, at the end of November 1912, after a heavy snowfall. The painting’s title is misleading: while the work resembles a Japanese Ukioye print, it depicts Lavery’s wife Hazel, and step-daughter, Alice, his most consistent models in Wengen. Hazel was to become the most familiar “Irish” face in the 20th century, being featured on the Irish currency up to 1975.
Another highly-estimated work also has some roots outside Ireland. Orpen’s “Nude Girl Reading,” an oil-on-canvas work from 1912, also estimated at as much as £500,000, shows his model and mistress Yvonne Aubicq in Paris.
There are a number of Jack Butler Yeats oils on offer, including the semi-abstract “The Talkers,” (as much as £250,000) dating from the last decade of his life.