Lot 35
  • 35

Robert Henri

200,000 - 300,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Robert Henri
  • MacNamara
  • signed Robert Henri (lower right); signed Robert Henri and inscribed with the artist's record book number (on the reverse)
  • oil on canvas
  • 24 by 20 inches
  • (61 by 50.8 cm)
  • Painted in late September or early October of 1925 on Achill Island, Corrymore, Ireland. The subject is probably Thomas MacNamara.


Chapellier Galleries, New York
Private Collection, Minnesota
Ronnie Meyerson, Inc., Bayville, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1991


New York, Chapellier Galleries, Robert Henri, 1865 - 1929, 1976, no. 76, illustrated in the catalogue

Catalogue Note

Robert Henri first visited the western coast of Ireland in 1913, where he rented the Corrymore House, located on Achill Island, outside the village of Dooagh.  Inspired and invigorated by the serene landscape and guileless nature of the local inhabitants, he developed a fresh painting style which would characterize his work from this point on.  Subsequently, Henri spent a few summers in Santa Fe, where he was similarly captivated by the unspoiled charm of the locals, but by 1924, the artist and his family were eager to return to Ireland.  Finding Corrymore for sale, the Henris purchased the house for £200 and spent their remaining summers there until the artist's death in 1928.

Henri had first turned his artistic focus to portraiture as early as 1900 (concurrent to his joining William Merritt Chase on the faculty of the New York School of Art), but, these portraits were not nearly as successful as his earlier Parisian street scenes. 

Nevertheless, he remained committed to developing a distinct style of realism which most effectively communicated the individual character of his sitters.  The children Henri encountered in the local villages in Ireland and New Mexico possessed an unconventional aesthetic beauty that proved irresistible to an artist striving to capture the purest essence of his sitters and their unaffected dispositions.

MacNamara, painted by Henri in Ireland in 1925, epitomizes both the delight the artist derived from his subject, as well as the unique and vibrant style he had developed for his portraits.  An early admirer of the seventeenth century masters, Henri had, by this point in his career, assimilated the energetic brushwork of Frans Hals and the dramatic use of light and dark shadows of Rembrandt into his own singular technique.  Selectively incorporating these devices, Henri, captured the subtle and distinctive personalities of his sitters.  MacNamara's eyes look past the viewer with a subdued calm, while his hands rest quietly in his lap. The portrait gracefully articulates the charm Henri clearly perceived in this beguiling Irish boy.

Lot 35 is illustrated as a frontispiece of this catalogue.