Gorry Gallery, Dublin, where purchased by the present owners circa 1980
Dublin, Royal Hibernian Academy, 1955, no.26; Dublin, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Patrick Hennessy de Profundis, 24 March - 24 July 2016, illustrated in exh. cat., p.90
The present painting belongs to a series of religious-themed work Patrick Hennessy produced in the 1950s, which hold a distinct place within his oeuvre and more widely within a religious context in 20th century Ireland. In Hennessy's paintings, wooden religious figures, in this case John the Baptist, seemingly removed from their church interiors are situated within an Irish landscape; the result is both other-worldly and familiar, ancient and modern. The stillness within the painting and the myserious relationship between the monk and St John is captivating, even if it does not supply any easy answers. Are these relics from a past no longer relevant? Or as Sean Kissane observes, does their placement in an expansive landcsape suggest real communion with God is found here in the glory of nature? (de Profundis, exh. cat., p.87). The series was never open to a clear interpretation but as Kissane also comments, Hennessy addresses the complications of Irish religion in a highly personal way interweaving the pagan, classical and Catholic (ibid.), resulting in a complex and striking visual imagery. Technically, they also demonstrate Hennessy's high accomplished craftmanship.
Original canvas. Some frame abrasions along the upper and lower edges; some minor and isolated traces of craquelure in the sky, only visible upon close inspection; and a vertical surface stain to right of left hand figure. Couple of surface abrasions in water to left of the reflection of the monk. Overall the work appears in good condition.
Under ultraviolet light there appear to be some retouchings corresponding to the above mentioned abrasions in the water.
Held in a composite frame distressed and painted by the artist. "In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."