An early painting by one of Ireland’s most celebrated artists goes on public display for the first time today.
Jack B Yeats’ depiction of a lone figure standing at the ropes of a boxing ring in The Last Corinthian has been rediscovered 60 years after the artist sold it to a private collector.
The 1910 oil painting is part of a showcase of artwork on view in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel ahead of a major auction at Christie’s of London on May 10.
“It’s really just an opportunity for people to come and see some of these fabulous paintings which they might not otherwise get the chance to do,” said Christie’s Irish art international director Bernard Williams.
Painted shortly after Yeats began working with oils, The Last Corinthian is expected to fetch around €100,000 in Christie’s Irish sale.
The painting was originally sold by Yeats to John Whelan Dulanty – Ireland’s first ambassador to London – in 1942, and has been in the family’s possession ever since.
“It’s just a stunning painting, depicting this lone figure,” said Mr Williams.
Two of the most expensive paintings on view at the €15m exhibition is a Roderic O’Connor still life expected to make in the region of €880,000, while an unrecorded John Lavery dating back to the 1880s is thought likely to fetch up to €370,000.
The 2006 exhibition attracted in the region of 1,000 people throughout the two-day event, and organisers hope to top that figure this year.
A private function will be held tonight in the Merrion Hotel for private collectors, with around 500 people expected.
It is thought that many Irish buyers will travel to London for the May sale, which includes paintings representing Irish art from the 18th to the 20th century.
“It is particularly exciting to offer to the market two important rediscovered paintings – The Last Corinthian by Jack Butler Yeats and An Impression dans le Sous-Bois by John Lavery – both of which will cause great excitement to international collectors,” added Mr Williams.
The exhibition in the Merrion Hotel opens to the public tomorrow and will close on Friday.