One that got away….

The night of the 29th December, 1940, saw one of the largest and most destructive German air raids on London during World War.II. More than 24,000 high explosive bombs and 100,000 incendiary bombs were dropped on the city.

The destruction was enormous and by morning, the premises of the postcard publishers Raphael Tuck & Sons – Raphael House – was a burnt out shell along with much of the city. Records going back seventy-four years and 40,000 or more original pictures and photographs by the best of artists were in ashes.

Ironically, the firm of Raphael Tuck & Sons had been founded by German émigrés and prior to the outbreak of World War.I. had contracted the bulk of their printing business to German firms.

The first evidence that I’ve come across of a work that passed through the firm unscathed has recently come to light.

Robert Finlay McIntyre (1846-1906) a London artist supplied this 1892 view of “The Upper Lake, Killarney” to Tuck’s and the original turned up at auction at Fusco Auctions, Ohio on the 19/7/2017 where, despite its poor condition, it sold for $500.

Obviously Tuck’s didn’t retain all the work of those that supplied them and hopefully where there’s one, there’s more! Sadly though, I don’t expect to see a flood of similar paintings from the likes of Walter Hayward Young “Jotter”, Edgar Longstaffe and Alfred de Breanski.

More about Raphael Tuck & Sons here: Tuck Database

A Mongolian Christmas

A bright light in a week when I missed two paintings that I was after – one due to being beyond my budget and the other due to my not reading the terms and conditions of the auction – this gem arrived from Ulan Bator, Mongolia. By a street artist named Ganbaatar it was a ‘must have’ as soon as I saw it! I am ashamed to say what I paid for it through a dealer as the artist must have received a pittance for his work. It will be one of my two personal Christmas cards this year for sure and I am in the process of tracking down the artist for a couple of commissions – watch this space.

Northern Irish Artist (?) – B F Stuart

Came across some Rathlin Island postcards by this artist which were published by Baird & Co., Belfast circa 1905. I can’t find anything online – and I mean anything – and I wonder if anybody can point me in the right direction? Any information about the artist no matter how trivial would be welcomed.

    

A Winter Wonderland

violet-m-kay-copy

My latest purchase for a self-publishing project is this wonderful Art Deco watercolour by Scottish artist Violet MacNeish Kay (1914-1971). Produced as artwork for an unpublished Christmas card it ticks all the boxes for me.

The artist was born in Glasgow, the daughter of James Kay RSA RSW, a distinguished artist best known for his paintings of harbours and Clyde scenes. She studied at the Glasgow School of Arts and exhibited at the RSW and RSA. Most of her other work is more traditional – mainly scenes of local landscapes – and judging from its style my painting is probably one of her earlier efforts.

A little bit more about the artist and her family here.

On the trail of elusive Eva Porter!

Eva Porter exhibited regularly with the Belfast Art Society/ RUA from an address on the King’s Road, Knock, in Belfast. She was active from 1923 – 53 and worked mainly in watercolour, specialising in landscapes and garden scenes. She also supplied Scholastic Productions Ltd., Belfast with artwork for their postcards published during the 1940/50s.

sheep-lower-dpi  cottage headlands-eva-porter-rebuilt

Three Scholastic postcards “Springtime“, “An Old World Cottage” and “Headlands”.

That is the sum total of information that I have been able to dredge up on the artist after exhaustive searching online, contacting the various NI Arts bodies, Belfast Forums, the Linen Hall Library, and other obvious institutions. I have recently been in touch with the Knock Church of Ireland authorities in the hope that she may have been one of their parishioners and I’m awaiting further news.

I love collecting the work of lesser known artists and researching them, but ending up drawing a complete blank is very frustrating. I wouldn’t mind if it was just Eva Porter, but there’s a growing list of artists that I just can’t track down. These include Terence Henry, Leslie Murdoch, Pat Mac Cormack and Robert Barlow – the one thing they all have in common is that they supplied their work to Scholastic Productions, but that company went out of business in the 1950s.

eva-porter-for-blog

A Country Road” which I purchased at Ross’s – August 2016 for £31.00 incl.buyer’s premium.

Thus far I have purchased a couple of her watercolours and several of the equally scarce postcards. A couple of weeks ago I thought that I had struck the mother lode when five of her paintings came up for sale at Rosebery’s (London), but it wasn’t to be. A lot of searching around and organising of a courier, contacting a UK dealer to make sure that they weren’t going to be bidding, contacting the auctioneers for additional photographs and I was all set. However, come the big day, and thirty minutes before the start of sale, I log into the Saleroom.com auction portal and sign-up for the auction only to find out that as a new client of  Rosebery’s they would require bank/credit card details and more. I couldn’t comply with their requirements in time and lost the pictures to the only other bidder for just £140.00. It was the first time that I have encountered this problem when bidding through the Saleroom.com and it will certainly be the last time that I bother with Rosebery’s.

eva-porter-club-prize-day-bangor-co-down

Club Prize Day, Bangor, Co.Down” watercolour – sold with four others at Rosebery’s 1/10/2016 for £140.00!

Years ago this would have put me in a bad mood for a week, but these days I’m more laid back and tell myself that it wasn’t meant to be. Annoying, but a First World problem in the greater scheme of things!

So the search goes on and any help would be much appreciated.

A Painting for Waterford – Blaise Smith

In 1735/36 Waterford Corporation commissioned Dutch artist Willem Van der Hagen to paint a view of the city to be hung in City Hall. The resulting work (below) is one of the earliest surviving paintings of any Irish city and while some artistic license has been used it is considered to be an accurate depiction of the thriving Georgian city. The wonderful painting may be viewed at the Waterford Treasures at the Bishop’s Palace

http://www.galleryofthemasters.com

Two-hundred and eighty years on and Irish artist Blaise Smith ARHA is working on “A Painting for Waterford” – a dramatic 5 metre panorama of the city of Waterford commissioned by the OPW, to act as a companion piece to the Willem Van der Hagen Waterford cityscape. Painted from the same general location as the earlier work there should be a few changes!

Both will be unveiled in Autumn 2016.

Below – check-out how the artist is tackling this daunting commission.

David Briggs – The Station Master!

One of the great things about this new blog is that it gives me a platform to draw people’s attention to some really great, less well-known artists that are out there. One such is David Briggs from Lisburn, County Antrim, who you’re probably unlikely to have heard of unless transport, especially railways, are your thing. You won’t have come across his work at auction as he only works on a commission basis, and when you look at his stunning paintings  you will see why it’s unlikely any of it will see the inside of a saleroom unless their owners die or run into serious financial difficulty.

Omagh South David Briggs

David’s work is seriously good with a great eye to detail and exudes atmosphere rarely seen in similar work. They are evocative, sometimes sad reminders of days gone by when it was still possible to travel to the remotest corner of Ireland by train, and every little boy wanted to become an engine driver. The inviting light of the signal box on a winter’s evening, smoke gently wafting from locomotive chimneys, the gentle hissing of escaping steam bring the paintings to life and you are drawn in…

Twilight at Florencecourt

Twilight at Florencecourt” a scene that can never be repeated on the late lamented Sligo, Leitrim & Northern Counties Railway – an independent concern to the end and which closed 1957.

Craigmore in Snow

Craigmore in the snow” – a picturesque view of the famous viaduct near Newry on the Dublin/Belfast line.

They are far more than just railway paintings though and scenery, people and weather are not overlooked. They depict Ireland in a gentler, more easy-going era when the pace of life still allowed people the time to stop for a chat.

Omagh 1964

Omagh, 1964” – the diesel railcar set adds to the poignancy of the painting as the Great Northern Railway’s line between Portadown and Londonderry, known as the ‘Derry Road‘,  was a late survivor finally closing in 1965 and was a victim of political shenanigans.

The artist’s other equally superb work includes road haulage, motor biking, aviation and maritime scenes – be sure to check out his Facebook page  ‘The Transport Artwork of David Briggs’

Modern Art or Toddler Art?

TODDLER ART

My 12 year old son presented me with this challenge a couple of weeks back, and I’m proud  to say that I got 9/11 answers correct – all that trawling through the ‘art‘ of Sean Scully, Michael Flatley et al must be paying dividends! I posted the  simple quiz on my “Collect Ireland” site but was surprised by the lack of feedback!

It only takes a minute – see how you get on click here: Modern Art or Toddler Art?

 

What is Art?

According to Google – The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

To Plato, art was imitation of nature, but in the 19th century, photography took over that function, and in the 20th, abstract art overturned the whole notion that art was about representation. And although art meant skill early on, conceptual artists elevated ideas over execution. So what is art? Does it have to be beautiful? Expressive?  Original?  Uplifting?  Intellectual?  Mentalfloss.com

“Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty of flowers – and never succeeding”.

Marc Chagall (1887–1985) Russian-French Expressionist artist.

Just a few thoughts on which to launch the blog and rather than go on at greater length here I’m going to suggest that you may like to read this essay by American Artist/Graphic Designer – David Lance Goines.