Yeats painting of Naas courthouse under the hammer this week

VIEWING began last week at the RDS in Ballsbridge for Whyte’s first art auction of 2012 which offers a mix of Irish and British art, including a scene from Naas.

VIEWING began last week at the RDS in Ballsbridge for Whyte’s first art auction of 2012 which offers a mix of Irish and British art, including a scene from Naas.

A painting titled On the Courthouse Steps by Jack B Yeats is the top lot with an estimate of €90,000-€120,000. The oil-on-canvas dated 1946 – when the artist was aged 75 – shows a tramp lying on the steps of the courthouse at Naas, Co Kildare.

In what is described as an ‘unedifying scene’ the painting also features a “strutting cockerel” which auctioneer Ian Whyte said could be “a humorous allusion to the self-importance of the legal establishment”.

The subject will only be of interest to those who have survived the Celtit Tiger era with quite a few sheckels intact. The picture last changed hands at Christie’s Irish Sale in London six years ago when it sold for £120,000 (€143,000).

The highlight among the British lots is Lovers in a Garden by Charles Edward Perugini which comes from a private collection in Westport, Co Mayo. Work by this Victorian artist – who was married to Kate, youngest daughter of Charles Dickens – is rarely seen in Ireland and has never previously appeared at auction here. Whyte believes this “exquisitely painted image of lovers seated on a stone bench framed by roses and foliage is sure to enchant bidders”. The estimate is €50,000-€70,000.

Again not for the financially faint hearted.