Auction Preview: Bonhams 27 March 2018

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Bonham’s late March sale in London features three modestly sized and priced works by 20th-century Irish artists. September Morn by Dan O’Neill (guiding at £2,000 to £3,000) is an early work by the Belfast man but shows signs of things to come in the vaguely unreal nature of an overtly banal sea-side scene. It’s not a resort you’d be rushing to visit with its desolate foreground, faded and amateurish sign for Teas, Ices and Minerals, and sinister-looking buildings. However, the painting bears the distinct marks of its maker. The unique attraction that bogs hold for Irish artists has led to a whole ‘bogscape’ genre in Irish art. Paul Henry is the role model and in recent times Seán McSweeney has mined this fertile source for his atmospheric works. Maurice MacGonigal’s Mountain Bog, Inveral, Connemara (£2,000 to £3,000) is a fine example of this tendency. Metaphor hunters will appreciate the grave-shaped bog-cuttings that dominate the foreground of the painting and the little steamer in the background sailing merrily free of the cloying land. Croagh Patrick is another favourite motif for Irish landscape artists, including again Paul Henry. It was for him what Mont Saint Victoire was for Cézanne. A View of Croagh Patrick by the venerable Cecil Maguire, who is still with us, shows us a brighter side of the West of Ireland. With its sun-dappled fields, cosy adjacent cottages and pristine lake, it suggests more pastoral idyll than harsh endurance. This attractive painting has a lower reserve of £3,000, bearing no similarity in this regard to Paul Henry.