AS 2016 drew to a close, two auction houses in Ireland finished the year on a high, chalking up good results for a pair of 20th century artists.
In County Laois on December 1, Sheppard’s (20% buyer’s premium) sold three large and early landscapes by the English artist Claude Francis Barry (1883-1970) to the tune of €43,000 (£36,440).
Consigned from a private collection in County Tipperary and believed to have never been on the market before, the group comprised two daytime river views and a nocturnal lake scene executed in the artist’s famed pointillist technique.
Each painting, described as in “fine, untouched condition”, was guided at €8000-12,000 and ranged in date from c.1910-17. This was when the artist had finished his tutelage under Alfred East and the Newlyn School, and was evolving his painting style to become less inclined to realism and more to colour and form.
Leading the way at €22,000 (£18,644) was the night scene (below), an atmospheric 6ft 2in x 7ft 3in (1.89 x 2.22m) oil on canvas and the earliest of the trio, depicting a large group of trees in the moonlight. Adding to its appeal was its echo of the artist’s famous large-scale pointillist nocturne views of London during the Blitz, one of which sold at Christie’s in 2015 for a premium-inclusive record of £230,500.
A private buyer secured the painting at Sheppard’s.
Another private buyer bought the two later oils, similar riverscape views lined with trees and a low sun, for €10,000 (£8470) and €11,000 (£9320).
A few days later in Dublin on December 5, Morgan O’Driscoll (20% buyer’s premium) sold a serene landscape by one of the greats of 20th century Irish art, Paul Henry (1876-1958).
Evening in Achill, a 20in x 2ft (51 x 61cm) oil on board, belongs to a group of highly commercial compositions he painted in the mid-1920s and ‘30s of Achill Island and Connemara in the West of Ireland.
In terms of subject matter, it ticked all the boxes: “His most popular images are certainly the ones with Connemara and other west of Ireland scenes that have cottages, peat stacks, lakes, blue mountains and billowing cloud formations,” said auctioneer Morgan O’Driscoll.
The canvas had remained in the same family from 1957 until its first appearance at auction in 2005 at Adam’s of Dublin. There it sold for €105,000 (around £73,430) to the vendor, a private collector.
Eleven years on and it was entered with a guide of €120,000-180,000 and sold for €135,000 (£114,410) to an Irish collector on the phone.
The other Henry in the sale to get away was a smaller and slightly later oil called In The Western Mountains, consigned from a separate source. It fetched just below the bottom estimate at €58,000 (£49,150).