Yeats headlines Irish art sale that captures the mood of the nation

Emilee Geist

Adam’s Important Irish Art sale – which was originally due to take place in March and postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown – is now open for viewings ahead of the sale at the auctioneer’s St Stephen’s Green rooms on Wednesday, September 2nd. Considering the current climate of uncertainty regarding […]

Adam’s Important Irish Art sale – which was originally due to take place in March and postponed due to the coronavirus lockdown – is now open for viewings ahead of the sale at the auctioneer’s St Stephen’s Green rooms on Wednesday, September 2nd.

Considering the current climate of uncertainty regarding the coronavirus pandemic, there is a touch of irony that the top lot is The Sick Bed by Jack B Yeats.

The painting depicts a man in a blue suit, beside a patient, whose pallor tells the story of her weakness. “The surroundings serve as a haven of comfort, order and natural affection in contrast to the complexities of the world outside,” according to the catalogue entry by Dr Róisín Kennedy (Lot 53, €250,000-€350,000).

Some further lots appear to reflect the mood of the nation and what may lie ahead in the coming weeks and months, with themes of uncertainty and isolation, which is slightly uncanny considering these works were consigned to the sale last October.

Even the ghost-like spectre in Image of Samuel Beckett by Louis le Brocquy is a more sombre representation of Beckett than others from the artist’s head series.

Image of Samuel Beckett by Louis le Brocquy
‘Image of Samuel Beckett’ by Louis le Brocquy

Le Brocquy, who had a close friendship with Beckett, painted the watercolour three years after Beckett’s death – which makes this a very poignant work (Lot 82, €15,000-€20,000).

A second Yeats, Bound for the Islands, shows a sailor standing alone on a headland, waving to a boat at sea. The catalogue suggests the boat and its occupants are bound for the islands, “while the sailor, much like humanity, bids them well but remains behind”.

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