Previews: Whyte’s 16 September

 

May Guinness is a fascinating and paradoxically neglected figure in Irish art. Perhaps her rather reclusive nature, especially in later life, meant that she didn’t acquire the profile of other modernist female pioneers such as Mainie Jellett and Evie Hone. And yet her explorations and adventures in France both predated these contemporaries and also extended beyond the narrow confines of the Parisian art scene. In World War I, she was attached to a hospital dealing with the casualties from the bloody Battle of Verdun. Anyone who has read her first-person account of the chaos, carnage, and suffering of that battle will have a healthy respect for her doughtiness.

she was more inclined towards Fauvism than her compatriots and many of her most striking works have a Fauvist flavor – strong on colour and pattern

While Guinness studied under André Lhote in Paris and was undoubtedly influenced by Cubism, she was more inclined towards Fauvism than her compatriots and many of her most striking works have a Fauvist flavor – strong on colour and pattern. In addition to bringing back Modernism to Dublin, Guinness built up a very formidable modern art collection at her home in Tibradden House in Rathfarnham. It boasted works by Bonnard, Braque, Matisse, Picasso, Dufy and Rouault. Whyte’s Irish and International art exhibition features a very striking May Guinness in all her Fauvist glory. Woman with Red Hair has a very modest guide price of €6,000-€8,000 and the work should attract much interest for this under-appreciated artist.

Colin Middleton is an artist who can wildly differ from painting to painting, both in style and quality. Woman with Birds, painted towards the end of his life, is a most powerful and dramatic work. A predominantly black piece painted on bare panel, the starkness is interspersed with brightly patterned strips of colour. Painted towards the end of his life, the mood of this work is elegiac and portentous. This very striking Middleton is guiding at €20,000 to €30,000.

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