Adam’s: 9 december

Walter Osbourne Loiterers 1885 oil on panel 35.5 x 25.5cm

Walter Osborne was taken from us prematurely – the Dublin artist was in his prime when he caught a chill while gardening and died of pneumonia at the age of 43. A near contemporary of John Lavery, Osborne is his polar opposite in terms of subject matter. While Lavery favoured romanticised portraits of society ladies and exotic locales in North Africa and the south of France, Osborne painted realistic images of ordinary folk at work and play on the Dublin streets and around rural Ireland. His father, William, made a living doing animal paintings, mainly of dogs, and Walter regularly featured animals in his work.

Loiterers is a charming vignette of country life: a farmer with his pair of horses pauses to chat to a bonneted lady – it could be a neighbour or perhaps he’s discussing the day’s demands with his wife. A boy with a collie on a lead observes them and a basket lies nearby. The dog is rendered in loving detail down to the white spot on its tail. The stoic working horses stand at attention. Loiterers is guiding €40,000 to €60,000.

There’s a very different horse depicted in Dan O’Neill’s Horseman Pass By. It’s an allegorical creature carrying a noble figure led by a nude, grey, female wraith. The reference is clearly to Yeats’ famous poem as we see the horseman passing by death, represented by the skeleton in the adjacent woods. This striking work by O’Neill has an estimate of €20,000 to €30,000.

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