01 December 2005

Yeats’ paintings owned by Allen family fetch €1.38m at auction

Irish Examiner

01 December 2005
By Ian Kilroy, Arts Editor

THREE paintings by Irish artist Jack B Yeats, owned by the Allen family of Ballymaloe House in Cork, sold for €1.38 million under the hammer in Dublin yesterday.

One of the works, A Blackbird Bathing in Tír na nÓg, sold for €820,000, establishing a new auction record for a Yeats.

The paintings, which were on loan to the University of Limerick for the past seven years, date from the 1930s and 1940s, a prolific period in the artist’s life.

The three works had previously hung in the Yeats Room at Ballymaloe.

The auction, held at the Royal Hibernian Academy by de Veres art auctioneers, attracted mostly Irish buyers, according to Rory Guthrie of de Veres.

Works by Paul Henry, Maurice MacGonigal, Tony O’Malley, William Leech and Roderic O’Connor also went under the hammer.

“I think the pictures will all stay in Ireland,” said Mr Guthrie.

“The days of overseas buyers are over. The demand and the money are here in Ireland,” he said.

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Click to view - An example of Jack B Yeats' painting - this one of Rosses Point in Sligo done in 1948 - photo from >>here

The painting that attracted most attention was Yeats’ A Blackbird Bathing in Tír na nÓg, an oil on canvas from 1943.

“It’s the big one. It’s one of Yeats’ masterpieces. It’s from one of the artist’s most popular periods and it has a special, magical quality. It’s a bit of a trophy picture,” said Mr Guthrie

A Blackbird Bathing in Tír na nÓg is “one of Yeats’ better paintings”, according to visual arts consultant with the Arts Council, Oliver Dowling.

He added that Yeats is as popular as ever.

“He will hold his place, and if anything will gain in value,” he said. The guide price for the Tír na nÓg work was €500,000 to €700,000 before auction.

The other two Yeats pieces, The Little Door (oil on canvas, from 1946) and Water Lilies (oil on canvas, from 1930) sold for €360,000 and €200,000 respectively.

Mr Guthrie said it was a good time for the Allen family to sell. “They’ve had the paintings for a long time and they haven’t been in their possession for a while. And the market is very strong.”

The figures reached by the paintings back up Mr Guthrie’s claim, giving the Allens a considerable profit, as the paintings were bought at a time when Yeats was in no way valued as he is today.

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