I R IS H A R T S A L E S
John Skelton 1925 - 2009
Oil on board, 20 x 24 inches. Signed by the artist
The Baily, Howth
Provenance: Private collection, Dublin, since 1974
Skelton comes from a long line of artists whose roots and influences trace
back to Paul Henry through artists such as Tom Nisbet and those in the
circle of James Humbert Craig. A contemporary of Stanley Pettigrew, their
paths crossed several times during their early years. Stanley developed his
own brand of Impressionism while Skelton went on to develop a modern planar
style, which is immediately distinguishable. The Modern Irish School were
essentially painters of the West of Ireland and were at their best on the
coast. Skelton’s Connemara seascapes are well known but he was also inspire
by the scenery of the East coast where he painted many of his familiar beach
scenes on Bull Island and the small estuaries along the North Dublin coast.
Although the central theme of the current work is the Baily light, the
painting is fundamentally a study of light, atmosphere and perspective.
There are no fewer than twelve bands of colour between the immediate
foreground and the skyline. Skelton blends these with great skill and
dexterity. His handling of perspective is remarkable, considering the
complexities of the numerous elements involved.
He began his professional career in London in the late 1940s under the
influence of the Euston Road School. He later settled in Dublin where he
worked as a book illustrator before turning to painting on a full time basis
in the 1970s. He exhibited regularly at the RHA and occasionally in the USA.
He lectured at the National College of Art and Design where he is remembered
for the great rapport he developed with this students.
Stanley Pettigrew b.1927
A Lake Amongst the Benns, Connemara
Oil on canvas laid on board 20 x 30 inches. Signed by the artist
Stanley Pettigrew is best known as a painter of the Wicklow landscape but he is
at his best on his annual excursions to to Connemara. By the time he first
held a brush in his hand, he had become enthralled with the special quality of
light and spectacular subject of the West of Ireland. He went to school in Sligo and in the early days took a keen interest in carpentry. However, it was during the summer holidays, when he was about fourteen years of age, that he met the man who was about to change his interests completely. This was Jim Heuston, a confirmed Republican and extremely colourful character, who had been twice imprisoned during the 1916 rising and again in 1922. By 1941, Heuston
was working as a sign painter in Sligo but he also had an interest in
landscape painting. He encouraged Stanley to accompany him on his
expeditions and so began a painting career, which continues to this day.
During these journeys around the Yeats Country, his great love of the open
countryside developed. In common with many other artists who had gone before
him, he was fascinated by the massive cloud formations and their reflections
This lake scene in the heart of the Benns is a fine example of his
work and and is typical of the isolated locations Stanley seeks out on his
excursions. He captures the vastness of the mountain range while displaying
at the same time a local intimacy of peace and tranquillity depicted in a
splendid range of harmonious colour.
William John Hennessy 1839 – 1917
The Votive Offering
Ink, sepia and gum Arabic on paper; 6 ¾ x 4 ¾ inches.
Signed by the artist
Provenance:Private collection, London
Ref: The Graphic, London, July 31st 1875
This drawing appears to be a preparatory work for Hennessy’s important Royal
Academy oil, Bringing the Ex-Voto to the Church, sold by Sotheby’s,
New York, in 1982. However, although the detail common to both works is
faithfully reproduced, the view is enlarged and further detail is added to
the Academy oil. This includes a cleric sitting on a bench overlooking the
sea and a lady sitting on the grass to his left. The houses in the
background and the tall monument are omitted in the oil and the small shrine
pinned to the tree is shown further to the left. The angle of view is also
changed, which allows for a wider view of the distant headland.
The theme depicts a small family group as they make their way to a Church
situated on high ground overlooking the sea. The central figure has the
appearance of a mariner. He is depicted in a reflective mode as he carries
his offering of a model ship, complete with furled sails, to the Church. An
ex-voto offering may take many forms and is made following a vow or in
gratitude to a particular saint. The offering of a model ship might indicate
a rescue at sea or survival in a violent storm.
An illustration of the Royal Academy painting appeared in 'The Graphic' on
July 31st, 1875.
Further details -
William John Hennessy.
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