Outstanding Pair of Irish Equestrian Portraits at Bonhams Old Rectory Sale
Most Important Equine Works by William Osborne to Appear on Market for Decades
William Osborne, RHA (Irish, 1823-1901) Equestrian portrait of Sarah Conolly, mounted side saddle on a chestnut hunter in a landscape

London – There are few grander country houses in Ireland than Castletown House and few grander families than the Conollys who in one guise or another occupied the magnificent Palladian mansion for more than 240 years. Built in 1722 for William Conolly, speaker of the Irish House of Commons, the house was, by the mid-19th century, occupied by Tom Conolly, described as 'the eccentric MP for Donegal', who lived there with his wife Sarah. It was he who commissioned the outstanding pair of equestrian portraits to be offered at Bonhams sale of The Contents of The Old Rectory, Chilton Foliat in London on Tuesday 6 December 2022.

Equestrian portrait of Sarah Conolly, mounted side saddle on a chestnut hunter in a landscape and Equestrian portrait of Tom Conolly, M.P., of Castletown, mounted on a dappled grey hunter in a wooded landscape both by William Osborne, R.H.A (1823-1901) are each estimated at £20,000-30,000.

Charlie Thomas, Bonhams UK Group Director of Private Collections & Furniture said: "These wonderful equestrian portraits are among the finest known examples of Osborne's work. The artist has depicted his human subjects and patrons as the embodiment of poise and refinement as one would expect of the landowners of one of the largest estates in Ireland. Although better known as a painter of horses, Osborne demonstrated his versatility by capturing his sitters with great panache and skill.

"These portraits will certainly be the most important equine works by Osborne to appear on the market since they were acquired in 1992. I expect them to generate a great deal of interest – both from collectors of important Irish paintings as well as equestrian art."
The owners of the Old Rectory felt a warm affinity with Ireland. The memorable dining room was inspired by the important Print Room at Castletown House, and they commissioned murals for their bathrooms from the famous Irish mural artist and decorative painter Michael Dillon.

16 September 2022


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