Lot 36
  • 36

PATRICK HENNESSY, R.H.A. | Self-Portrait

8,000 - 12,000 GBP
30,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Self-Portrait
  • oil on canvas laid on board
  • 51 by 33cm., 20 by 13in.


Christie's, Dublin, 29 June 1994, lot 267, where purchased by the present owners

Catalogue Note

Born in Cork in 1915, Patrick Hennessy was educated at Dundee College of Art and at the Paris studio of Fernand Léger. Forced to return to Ireland by the outbreak of the Second World War, both the present work and lot 37 date from circa 1939 and capture the sombre mood of the war years. The 30s and 40s saw a period of radical experimentation in visual art; however Hennessy rejected abstraction in favour of a style of academic realism infused with an eerie mood derived from the surrealist movement. The quality of his work was recognised by Mainie Jellett who opened his first solo exhibition in Dublin in 1939 and Self-Portrait may indeed date precisely from that time. Hennessy’s commitment to figuration alienated a number of art critics in Ireland but many acknowledged its strangeness calling it, ‘very un-Irish’, ‘standing alone’, ‘a strange and exotic presence in Irish art’. Following the penury of the 40s, Hennessy went on to become one of the most commercially successful artists in Ireland in the mid-20th century. He was instrumental in the founding of the Ritchie Hendriks Gallery in Dublin and he exhibited there regularly as well as in London and Chicago. In the late 50s he began to winter in Tangier, Morocco which was a focus for gay men like the Beat poets and the artists Francis Bacon and Cecil Beaton. Hennessy settled there permanently in the 1970s and it was here that he began to to make work with queer subject matter which was very radical for the time and holds a significant place within the canon of Irish art.

Seán Kissane (Curator of Exhibitions at IMMA)