Jack B Yeats was a boxing fan as his many paintings and drawings of the subject attest. The best known of these is The Small Ring which hangs in the Crawford Gallery in Cork. His painting Donnelly’s Hollow, in Bonhams’ June auction, also illustrates this interest, albeit more obliquely. The title refers to a natural amphitheater near the military camp on the Curragh where the Irish bare-knuckle fighter Dan Donnelly won a fabled victory over the English champion George Cooper. It’s an eerie and atmospheric work dominated by the green, green grass of the Curragh plains. To the left of the painting you can faintly see the stone monument that still marks the site of the pugilistic encounter. To the right you see a few spectators. Two ghostly figures occupy the centre, looking down towards the fateful spot. These could be more spectators or perhaps the two fighters contemplating their destiny. This fascinating painting with its historical resonance is guiding at £300/500,000.
Paul Henry spent nearly ten years on Achill island – from 1910 to 1919 – and its vistas inspired many paintings. There are two Henrys on offer at Bonhams’ June sale. The 1928 painting Achill Cottage, Lough Corrib was actually painted on the shores of Lough Corrib, nearly two hours drive from Achill Island. The cottage is built in the style of those he encountered while on Achill. The troubled trees looming over the cottage add a beleaguered feel. This is guiding at £60/80,000. The smaller piece, Hayricks (£15/20,000), was painted three years earlier and also features wind-swept trees. You worry for the future of that hay. The distinguished critic Hilton Kramer described William Scott as ‘the best painter of his generation in England’ and his recent auction results suggest that many concur. His Still Life (£70/100,000) dates from 1946 and the lush colour shows the early influence of Cézanne and Bonnard before Scott adopted the more spare style of his later paintings.