'Water Front', a deeply personal memory from childhood by the Irish artist Jack Butler Yeats, is one of the major works in Bonhams Modern British and Irish Art Sale in London on 23 November. It is estimated at £150,000-200,000.
Painted in 1947, the picture evokes the world of work and commerce with which Yeats was familiar from his childhood. He spent his early years living with his grandparents in Sligo where the family ran a shipping business. From their clothing, the three figures in the painting are readily identifiable as two seafarers and a farmer. To the left, a ship is moored at the quay, and in the background sit the buildings of a port.
Another work by Yeats – A Soldier of Fortune (£50,000-80,000) – depicts a nomadic gentleman of the road. It has been suggested that this is a portrayal of Bowsie, a vagrant who appears in several of Yeats novels. The background has been suggested as the western corner of Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin where Yeats lived and worked for several years.
Bonhams Head of Irish Art Penny Day commented, "Painted only one year apart, neither of these two paintings by Yeats have previously been offered at auction. They show Yeats exploring the expressive power of colour and texture in paint to capture the spirit of the ordinary man."
Other works by Irish artists in the sale include:
• Fresh and Salt by Jack B. Yeats (£30,000-50,000)
• Nude Bathing by Roderic O'Conor (50,000-80,000)
• Killary Bay by Paul Henry (£30,000-50,000)
• Moonlight – The Bridge by Sir John Lavery (£18,000-25,000)