Press Release

Sotheby’s Annual Irish Sale Distinguished by Eighteen Works from the Collection of Businessman Sir Michael Smurfit & Works by Yeats and Dillon Making their First Appearances at Auction

By Sotheby's
Sale in London on 9 September to be Preceded by Public Exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin from 27 to 30 August
*Viewing by Appointment Only*

This year, Sotheby’s annual Irish Art sale, including Property from the Collection of Sir Michael Smurfit, carries the highest combined pre-sale value since the reintroduction of dedicated Irish art sales in London in 2015. Comprising 60 lots and featuring a roll-call of the most beloved and esteemed names in the field, amongst a strong selection of works by contemporary artists, the sale is estimated to bring in the region of £3.2 million. Preceding the auction in London on 9 September 2020, public exhibitions are set to take place at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin from 27 to 30 August, by appointment, and in our New Bond Street galleries from 4 September.

The Collection of Sir Michael Smurfit

Louis le Brocquy, Travelling Woman with Newspaper, est. £700,000-1,000,000

Eighteen works from the collection of Sir Michael Smurfit are distinguished by Louis le Brocquy’s Travelling Woman with Newspaper (est. £700,000-1,000,000), one of the artist’s most significant works, and a number of exceptional paintings by Jack B. Yeats, Sir John Lavery and Sir William Orpen. When last sold at auction, at Sotheby’s twenty years ago, where it was acquired by Sir Michael, le Brocquy’s masterpiece established an auction record for the artist, with a price that has remained unbeaten to this day.

Over thirty years, Sir Michael assembled an array of Irish artworks to furnish his K Club luxury golf and hotel resort, and private residence, in Co Kildare. From the very beginning, he sought out the best examples available on the market, to the extent that his collection features not only many of Ireland’s most famous artists, but also some of their finest paintings.

Highlights Outside of the Smurfit Collection

Jack B. Yeats, Kerry Fisherman, oil on panel, 1927, est. £70,000-100,000

Kerry Fisherman by Jack B. Yeats is a quintessential Yeats image making its first appearance at auction, having been in a private family collection in Canada for over fifty years. The fisherman’s strong features and confident stance offer a heroic figure, typical of the artist’s depiction of sea-faring men. Yeats’s wonder and admiration for such figures was instilled in him during his childhood growing up among the quays of Sligo. Dating to the late 1920s, the painting anticipates the loose brushwork, dissolving forms and freely applied colour of Yeats’ later work.

Gerard Dillon, The Dreamer, oil on board, circa 1956-57, est. £100,000-150,000

Set to appear at auction for the first time, Gerard Dillon’s The Dreamer depicts a young man most likely from the West of Ireland, where the artist had a revelatory encounter with the land and people in 1939. The self-taught artist – who was born in Belfast and worked in London before discovering the Ireland that would become his constant source of inspiration – could aptly be described as a ‘dreamer’ himself and there is an element of Dillon reflected in the figure reading a book that transports him to other places.

Property from the Yeats Family

John Butler Yeats, Self-Portrait, est. £3,000-5,000

Following Sotheby’s successful sale of the Yeats Family Collection in 2017, the sale opens with a small tranche of 12 lots consigned from the family, featuring an array of works on paper by John Butler Yeats, a charming selection of watercolour and ink drawings by Jack B. Yeats, and a portrait of P.S. O’Hegarty by Harry Kernoff. Together, they are estimated to realise a combined sum in the region of £25,000.

Contemporary Works

Patrick O'Reilly, Large Skater Bear, est. £4,000-6,000

The selection of works by contemporary artists include Patrick O’Reilly’s Large Skater Bear, bronze, 2012, est. £4,000-6,000; Elizabeth Macgill’s Clonmany, oil on canvas, 2002, est. £12,000-18,000; Anne Magill’s Sentinel, charcoal on panel, 2020, est. £12,000-18,000, and Colin Davidson’s Arctic Monkeys: Fireside (Portrait of Paul Muldoon), oil on canvas, 2014, est. £8,000-12,000.

Royal Hibernian Academy, 15 Ely Place, Dublin 2
By appointment only, complimentary tickets can be booked through Eventbrite
Thursday 27 August 12 noon – 5pm
Friday 28 August 10am – 5pm
Saturday 29 August 10am – 5pm
Sunday 30 August 10am – 3pm

Sotheby’s London
Friday 4 to Tuesday 8 September
Public view: 10am – 3pm
Appointment Viewings: 3pm - 5pm
Wednesday 9 September 10am – 12 noon


London | Matthew Floris || +44 (0)20 7293 6000

About Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744. Sotheby’s became the first international auction house when it expanded from London to New York (1955), the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong (1973), India (1992) and France (2001), and the first international fine art auction house in China (2012). Today, Sotheby’s has a global network of 80 offices in 40 countries and presents auctions in 10 different salesrooms, including New York, London, Hong Kong and Paris. Sotheby’s offers collectors the resources of Sotheby’s Financial Services, the world’s only full-service art financing company, as well as Advisory services for collectors, museums, corporations, artists, estates and foundations. Sotheby’s presents private sale opportunities in more than 70 categories, including three retail businesses: Sotheby’s Wine, Sotheby’s Diamonds, and Sotheby’s Home, the online marketplace for interior design.

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* Estimates do not include buyer's premium or overhead premium. Prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer's premium and overhead premium and are net of any fees paid to the purchaser where the purchaser provided an irrevocable bid.

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