TWO artworks by esteemed Irish artist Sir John Lavery will go up for auction for the first time this month.
The pieces, which are owned by direct descendants of the Belfast-born painter, are expected to fetch up to £500,000 each when they go under the hammer at Sotheby’s annual Irish Art sale in London.
The first piece, A Moorish Hareem, is an example of Lavery’s Moroccan canvases that followed his 100-mile journey on horseback from Tangier to Fez.
“Throughout the nineteenth century, women of the Orient captivated Western travellers,” a spokesperson for Sotheby’s explains.
“Lavery would have seen numerous harem paintings in Paris Salons, all lascivious fantasies with no documentary accuracy as Westerners were strictly forbidden from entering these restricted enclaves.
“This image is not a product of the artist’s imagination but what he observed, a search for visual truth.
“Lavery is separated from the scene by a river while the ladies are sat on cushions beneath a beautiful portico.”
The second piece, painted in 1886-7, is Lavery’s Ariadne.
“Ariadne is a subject that was particularly beloved by Victorian painters,” the spokesperson explains.
“In this scene, Lavery depicts the moment of Theseus’s departure when, distraught, and pining for his return, Ariadne discards her robes.
“Constantly reworked by the artist, this painting remained in his studio until after the artist's death and has not been seen by the public in almost 90 years.”
Both pieces will go on show in Ireland and London before going under the hammer in a newly created flagship sales series of Modern British & Irish Art which headline Sotheby’s British & Irish Art week.
Both Lavery pieces will feature in the auction house’s Evening Sale, as will works by Jack Butler Yeats, Gerard Dillon and many other esteemed Irish artists.
“We are delighted to offer this season another exceptional grouping of artworks by Ireland’s leading artists,” Arabella Bishop, Head of Sotheby’s Ireland, said.
“The works of Irish art in the Modern British & Irish Art sales are by Ireland’s greatest painters – Jack B. Yeats, Sir John Lavery, Gerard Dillon, amongst others – many of which are making their auction debuts or appearing from distinguished private collections,” she added.
“We hope these Irish artists, together with the works in other categories, will appeal and excite collectors worldwide.”
The Modern British & Irish Art Evening and Day sales will comprise 54 lots of Irish art in total.
Together, they are estimated to fetch in the region of £2million.
Ahead of the auctions in London on November 21 and 22, the works will be on view at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin from November 9-12, and in Sotheby’s New Bond Street galleries from November 17- 21.