Painting of Saint Patrick's Mountain, "The Reek" sold by Bonhams

20th Century British and Irish Art
30 May 2012
London, New Bond Street

A painting by Paul Henry entitled A view of Croagh Patrick from Achill Island was one of the Irish highlights of the 20th Century British and Irish Art sale, that took place at Bonhams in London on the 30th May.

Realising £25,000 exceeding the presale estimate of £10,000 – 15,000, the painting depicted the mountain Croagh Patrick. It was nicknamed "the Reek" and is a renowned site of Pilgrimage in honour of St. Patrick, with the last Sunday of each July becoming known as "Reek Sunday". It was on the summit in 441AD that St Patrick reputedly fasted for forty days, before using the Black Bell to combat the birds and demons that challenged him, and in doing so banished all the snakes from Ireland.

Appearing for the first time at auction, the work most probably dates from 1911 to 1913, and shows a view of the holy mountain of Croagh Patrick, looking across Clew Bay from Cloghmore on the southernmost tip of Achill Island.

Other works by Irish artists offered in the Bonhams sale included a charming work by Gerard Dillon entitled The Moon Over the Bog that sold for £61,250. Clearly influenced by Chagall, Dillon explained how the painting was inspired by "an unforgettable night in Roundstone when he and [fellow artist] Nano Reid were walking home after a late night's drinking."The moon was so huge and romantic hanging over the land that even the young man in the picture was proposing marriage to the girl to whom he was making love."

Further highlights included Sir Gerald Festus Kelly's Portrait of Jane with a white shawl XXVII, depicting the artist's wife Lilian Ryan that sold for £9,030, and Sutton Sands, a view of Sutton Beach at the northern edge of Dublin Bay painted by William John Leech in 1909 that sold for £9,375.

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