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Lot 18: Paul Henry RHA (1876-1958) AN ACHILL BOG, c.1928-1930Platinum House
September 30, 2013
Ballsbridge, Dublin, IrelandLive Auction
Description: signed lower right; titled in another hand in pencil on stretcher verso; with Dawson Gallery framing label also on reverse
One cannot know for sure where the setting for this scene may be, but despite the title it must be in Connemara. As is well known, Henry lived on Achill Island from 1910 until 1919, when he moved to Dublin. But from 1917 he was employed as a Paymaster for the Congested Districts Board, his autobiography, An Irish Portrait, London, 1951, pp. 83-4, noting his work here. His duties for the Board were not onerous, but they allowed him to travel more widely than hitherto so that increasingly he drew upon the areas around Ballycroy, Bangor Erris and Pollatomish in north County Mayo for his subject matter. His practice thereafter was to make sketches as he journeyed and these he used later for compositions. His handling of this picture is characteristic of his work in the late 1920s, although the overall tonal key is brighter than many of his works from that time. In the sky the paint has been fairly evenly applied to the canvas, with little overpainting or other changes, while on the distant mountain there is more impasto and a clear direction of the fall of light. The middle distance is similarly treated. But the foreground, with its warm tones, heavier impasto, briskly executed brushwork and the upward thrust of the turfstacks which link the foreground with the middle distance, shows the exuberance of Henry at the height of his powers.
There is a label on the reverse of the Dawson Gallery, Dublin, as the framer. The title is written in pencil on the back of the stretcher, but in whose hand is unknown. Dated 1928-30 on stylistic grounds.
Dr S.B. Kennedy
Given as a wedding present to the previous owner's parents, 1936;
Thence by descent;
Adam's, 30 March 1994, lot 24;
deVere's, 20 November 2001, lot 243;
Dimensions: h:11.50 w:13.50in.
Artist or Maker: Paul RHA (1876-1958)
Literature: Kennedy, S.B., Paul Henry, Paintings Drawings Illustrations, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2007, p.240, catalogue no. 688 (reproduced)
Medium: oil on canvas