Famous pub painting could fetch €120,000

A HUMOUROUS painting paying homage to the best-known pubs around Dublin in the 1940s will be the toast of an auction house when it goes under the hammer this week.

A Bird Never Flew on One Wing, which hung in O’Brien’s Pub on Upper Leeson Street for more than 30 years, is expected to fetch up to €120,000 in the sale.

Depicting two archetypal Irish characters enjoying a drink after a day’s work, the painting features a backdrop of more than 50 Dublin pub names, including The Bailey, Shelbourne and the International.

As one of the best known and best loved works by Dublin artist Harry Kernoff, it was later reproduced in woodcut format and forms part of his small series of pub paintings executed in the late 1940s.

The oil painting will be auctioned at Adam’s Important Irish Art Sale on Wednesday.

David Britton, of Adam’s, said the family who owned O’Brien’s acquired A Bird Never Flew on One Wing in the saleroom in the early 1970s and hung it in the back bar until recently.

“O’Brien’s wasn’t, in fact, listed as one of the 50 pub names in the painting, which prompted the owner to bring the picture to Kernoff’s studio in Stamer Street and Kernoff added it in,” he said.

It will be auctioned alongside more than 180 lots of Irish art. Major works in the sale include paintings by Paul Henry, Louis Le Brocquy, Gerard Dillon and Daniel O’Neill. Top lot of the night is expected to be a study of Samuel Beckett by Le Brocquy which could make over €150,000.

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