On November 24, collectors across the globe will have a chance to bid live online at Artfact.com on more than 150 pieces of fine art from the Bank of Ireland’s expansive collection. The auction, which features works by some of Ireland’s premier artists is presented by James Adam & Sons of Dublin, and represents the first in a series of auctions for the financial institution, with the ultimate goal of selling the entire collection of over 2,000 works of fine art. Auction registration on Artfact.com is free of charge, and online bidders will have the opportunity to experience the auction in real time via live webcast.
The decision to sell the collection came after the Bank of Ireland received €3.5 billion in bailout funds (approximately $4.7 billion) from the Irish government. Responding to charges of “cultural vandalism” by some in the arts community who are protesting the break-up of the collection, the bank has removed nine works from the sale to be donated to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. All proceeds from the auction, expected to exceed €1,000,000, will be donated directly to community-based arts organizations.
Highlighting the sale is a collection of works by Irish painter Louis le Brocquy (b. 1916). The collection features a number of le Brocquy’s renowned “Portrait Heads”, which depict famous literary figures and fellow artists. Among these portraits is a study of le Brocquy’s towards a portrait of James Joyce. This evocative piece, an ephemeral depiction of the noted novelist emerging from a white background, is estimated at €50,000-€70,000. Completed portraits in this series have earned prices reaching over $400,000 at past auctions, with noted subjects including W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Pablo Picasso.
Also offered in this exciting auction is a painting by abstract artist Tony O’Malley (1913-2003). The painting, a fine example of O’Malley’s popular abstract landscapes, is titled “Sand and Light, Nassau 1978”. O’Malley is known for his work involving the natural world, often using organic forms as inspiration for abstract images. “Sand and Light” is one in a series of paintings completed by the artist during his frequent trips to the Bahamas. The piece is estimated at €40,000-€60,000.
Additional works include a painting by Paul Henry (1877-1958) titled “Clouds at Sunset”. The image depicts a serene landscape view of Killary Harbour, a location Henry used in a number of paintings, each reflecting the changing moods and color palettes of the different seasons. The painting is estimated at €30,000-€50,000.
A self-portrait by Irish painter Seán Keating is also part of the Bank of Ireland collection. This signed portrait, estimated at €20,000-€30,000, is a fine example of Keating’s prowess as a portrait artist. From the beginning of his professional career in 1914 until his death in 1977, Keating undertook hundreds of public and private portrait commissions. He also painted a number of self-portraits, like this one, to hone and maintain his artistic skills.
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