Irish artists in the frame at the Royal Hibernian Academy

Des O’Sullivan casts an eye over the Sotheby’s paintings on view at the Royal Hibernian Academy.

The Owl Run by Hughie O’Donoghue at Sotheby’s in London on November 19.
The Owl Run by Hughie O’Donoghue at Sotheby’s in London on November 19.

Art by Yeats, Orpen, Paul Henry, Rowan Gillespie and Hughie O’Donoghue will highlight Sotheby’s annual Irish art sale in London on November 19.

The sale is on view at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin from 10am to 5pm today and 10am to 3pm tomorrow.

Sotheby’s has continued with an innovative approach since inaugurating annual sales of Irish art in London in the mid-1990s.

Its global trade has enabled the auction house to ferret out works of art in parts others might not reach. They have also discovered a rich seam of buyers of Irish art from Germany to the US to Asia and Australia.

The stalwarts of this trade have been the most bankable artists like Yeats, Orpen, le Brocquy and so on. This is all well and good but there is a continuous need for art markets to expand with new names, if for no other reason that nearly all the best works by Yeats are now in public or private collections.

Failing Better Maquette III by Rowan Gillespie at Sotheby’s.
Failing Better Maquette III by Rowan Gillespie at Sotheby’s.

Against this squeezed background exists an artistic Ireland that is rich in talent and poor in promotion. If Sotheby’s sales have demonstrated anything it is that market recognition for new Irish artists comes dropping slow.

So it is encouraging to see work by Hughie O’Donoghue and Rowan Gillespie listed among the highlights of Sotheby’s upcoming sale. Both artists were born in 1953 and produce work that is widely different and innovative.

The estimates for their works range from £15,000-£25,000 (€17,443-€29,000). This is low relative to the £500,000-£800,000 (€581,557-€930,432.) estimate for the top Yeats in the auction, a 1944 oil on canvas entitled A Paris of the West/A Paris Come to Judgement in the West.

It was bought by the celebrated American theatre actress Katherine Connell in 1948 and has come to auction now for the first time in 35 years.

There are six figure estimates for works by Roderic O’Conor, William Orpen and Paul Henry.

The Owl Run by Hughie O’Donoghue is an oil and canvas from 2013 which depicts a field near the Glencullen River where O’Donoghue’s mother grew up and where the artist visited every year as a child.

The real subject of this work is the reconstruction of experience or remembrance.

A Paris of the West/A Paris comes to Judgement in the West by Jack B. Yeats at Sotheby’s.
A Paris of the West/A Paris comes to Judgement in the West by Jack B. Yeats at Sotheby’s.

Rowan Gillespie’s Failing Better Maquette III is a 2019 bronze which relates to his work Failing Better recently installed at the Pearse Street entrance to TCD.

In conducting this research for this work the sculptor developed an interest in Trinity’s curious connection to aviation, particularly the flying experiments of George Francis FitzGerald in the late 19th century.

Further contemporary highlights include Mirroring by Janet Mullarney, a bronze from 1998, Flag (Protest against Brexit, London June 2018) by Joy Gerrard and Interior with Figure by Brian Harte.

The sale of 106 lots has a low estimate of just over €3 million.

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