When I started out with this blog I set myself a target of buying at least one painting every month, but recently I’ve rather lost the run of myself. As a newcomer to collecting Art it has taken me a while to make up my mind what I really like and where I’m going with my collection. I began with buying Irish landscape watercolours by several less well known artists including Leon O’Kennedy (1900 – 1976); David Livingston (1920 – 1978) and Ross MacDonald Ross (1891 – 1972).
“Whitepark Bay” by David Livingston. I never tire of seascapes of the Northern Irish coast!
Untitled Irish landscape oil on board (11″ x 19″) by Leon O’Kennedy purchased on eBay.
In recent months I’ve been fortunate in making contact with several other collectors with the same interests which has allowed me to get copies of works that that I might otherwise have felt the urge to bid on myself. This has meant that I can now concentrate on paintings purely for my own collection safe in the knowledge that copies of ones that I will need for ‘the project‘ will be available to me when the time is right.
“Kanturk Castle, Co.Cork” watercolour by Lady Coralie Kinahan (1924 – 2015), purchased for a song at Ross’s, Belfast.
It was probably inevitable that I should find myself drawn back to my first interest as a child – birdwatching – and there are so many paintings out there at very reasonable prices. My current obsession is for William Huston a Northern Irish (?) artist about whom nothing seems to be known despite inquiries in all the right places. I already have seven of his works in my collection – including four in the last week.
“Pheasants” oil on canvas (20″ x 30″) – again from Ross’s and at just under £40 plenty of bang for my buck!
“Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin” a large oil on canvas by Edward Tomkus (1936) – purchased on eBay for just £45 incl.delivery.
Careful management of my very limited funds together with too many hours of research, the occasional payout by Paddy Power Bookmakers means that I’ll soon have to open an Art Gallery to house the collection.
With PP as my main benefactor I couldn’t resist finishing with this delightful ACEO card by English artist Joanne Lennox – at £4.96 for the miniature painting (3.5″ x 2.5″) it’s probably one of my more expensive purchases.
Once again, the Texaco Children’s Art Competition produced any amount of quality paintings that one would be happy to give wall space to. At the older end of the spectrum there were some wonderful portraits while at the younger end many of the works would give the late Basil Blackshaw a run for his money.
Above left to right: “Lifelines” a watercolour drawing by the overall winner, 16-year-old Naoise Hennessy from Coláiste Bhríde, Carnew, Co. Wicklow; and “10th February” which received a Special Merit Award for 18-year-old Daragh O’Brien from Carrigaline Community School, Carrigaline, Co. Cork.
“Evening In The Village” by 12-year-old David McPartlin from Ardscoil Rís, North Circular Road, Limerick received a Special Merit Award.
Overall the wonderful, natural talent bodes well for the future of Irish Art as long as those that go on to Art College are not contaminated by the exponents of the Abstract genre.
The full results and galleries may be viewed here: Texaco Children’s Art
Ever since I first encountered the wonderful work of transport artist David Briggs I have wanted to own one of his paintings but since the artist only works to commission there’s little chance of finding one in a gallery or auction. The only option was to get in line and commission a painting but of what – so many possibilities. My first love when it comes to Irish railways has always been the late lamented Tralee & Dingle Light Railway (1891 – 1953) in West Kerry.
Built on the cheap the line had some very severe curves and atrocious gradients. From the outset, the railway was beset by problems caused by the poorly engineered permanent way and the first of several serious accidents occurred less than two years after the line opened.
Surprisingly, despite being a major financial burden on the ratepayers of the areas which it served the railway continued to operate a full range of services until 1939 when passenger traffic ceased. The line remained open for freight traffic – largely livestock – until 1947 at which time the service was reduced to one day a month when special trains were run in conjunction with the Dingle cattle fair.
The track, rolling stock and locomotives were run into the ground in these last years and it speaks volumes for the train crews that operated the line that they were able to keep things going. David Briggs’ painting captures the atmosphere perfectly as a train of empty cattle wagons heads towards Dingle just west of Camp Village. There’s great detail in this late 1930s view; the locomotives are working hard on the 1:30 gradient, the crew can be seen trying to shout to each other above the noise; St.Mary’s Chapel in the background, the fields and luxuriant fuschia hedges set the scene.
“Last Days on the Tralee & Dingle” acrylic on board (20″ x 30″).
I wasn’t born when the line closed but have visited the remains of the route many times. Now I will no longer have to trek to West Kerry to be reminded of this wonderful, mad bit of railway engineering. Not the first painting that I have commissioned but by far and away the most satisfying!
I meant to post this up a while ago but as it was unsigned there was nowhere to put it. So, here it is now – enjoy. I never tire of views of Kingstown/Dun Laoghaire harbour and this is one of the most interesting that I’ve come across in ages – sadly out of my price bracket!
Described as Irish School circa 1830 – A convict ship and other shipping in Kingstown (now Dunlaoghaire) Harbour, Ireland. Inscribed on reverse with vessel names and other data Watercolour (11¾” x 18½”). Conservatively estimated at £500-800 it was eventually knocked down for £2,400 at Charles Miller Ltd., Fulham, London on the 7/11/2017.
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 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.
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.
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.