2017-11-22-2018-09-26 --- 2018-09-26 14:16:11--18
Hover to zoom in

LOT :29
Basil Blackshaw HRHA RUA (1932-2016)
Estimate EUR : €10,000.00 - €15,000.00
Auction Date : 22-11-2017


Basil Blackshaw HRHA RUA (1932-2016)

Portrait of the Poet Michael Longley (1989)

Oil on canvas, 58 x 58cm (22½ x 22½)


Provenance: The Eamonn Mallie Collection


Exhibited : The Kenny Gallery, Galway where purchased; Basil Blackshaw Painter touring exhibition, Ormeau Baths 1995, Model Arts, Sligo 1996, RHA Gallery, Dublin 1997; Basil Blackshaw at 80 Retrospective Exhibition, The FE McWilliam Gallery, Banbridge, May October 2012, The RHA Gallery, Dublin, January - February 2013.


Literature: Basil Blackshaw Painter by Brian Ferran, illustrated page 110; 'Basil Blackshaw by Eamonn Mallie, illustrated Plate 84, p.207; Basil Blackshaw at 80, FE Mc William Gallery, Fig 10.


My acquiring this portrait of poet Michael Longley was as much an accident as the fact that it was painted in the first place. In the late Eighties my wife and I were heading West on our holidays and were passing through Monaghan town when we halted at a famous fashion house called Panache'.

An hour later Mrs M emerged with a little Escada outfit which put quite a hole in my pocket. My first port of call in Galway down the years was always Kenny's Bookshop and Gallery.


I fell at the first hurdle buying an oil portrait of poet Michael Longley at a very considerable figure not feeling too guilty though, against the backdrop of my largesse towards my wife in Monaghan and the procurement of her little Escada number. I was acting out the games played out between many husbands and wives all over the country who are art aficionados. In marriage there has to be give and take! It is not the painting one has but the next one for which one lusts. Several portraits attracted my attention in Kenny's that August day including a wonderful image of Brian Friel by Blackshaw but Longley is my neighbour and he won the day. I met a friend in the street outside Kenny's and I recommended he should go into the gallery and buy Blackshaw's portrait of Friel. He did just that, happy to be the owner of Blackshaw's portrait of the Donegal based playwright, with whom he was friendly for decades.


I spoke above of the accident which led to my coming across the Longley portrait in Galway and again it was happenstance which actually led to the painting being made by Blackshaw in the first instance. Michael had gone to Blackshaw's studio out in Antrim to sit for him but Basil struggled to get a handle on the sitter for a considerable time deciding the undertaking wasn't working.

In fact he thought he had totally lost it. After some further observation Blackshaw told me he pulled the portrait together rather quickly to his surprise, and simply stopped, knowing to continue might result in his losing what he had achieved. What he captured in so little activity on the canvas is very revealing. The approach is minimalist, deploying thin oil paint while allowing the canvas to do a lot of the work for him. Clearly some rubbing, sponging and use of a rag took place.

The work is a big favourite of Longley's who talked affectionately and liberally about it in the BBC documentary I made on the life of Basil Blackshaw. Blackshaw's peers hold him in high esteem when it comes to making portraits. The one of former Irish Times editor Douglas Gageby is considered to be a master piece. Before heading to Dublin to paint former President Mary Robinson, Blackshaw told me he had a vision of how he wanted to paint her. When she walked into his studio and sat down she assumed the pose automatically to which he had aspired - her hands resting on her lap to the side as you will observe if you get a chance to see the portrait. Brian Friel proudly showed me Blackshaw's portrait of him in his Donegal home. He had been painted by many artists but up until that moment he considered Blackshaw's painting of him as the jewel in the crown.

You can make up your own mind about Blackshaw's image of the author of these words.

That is your prerogative as a viewer.


Eamonn Mallie


Hammer Price : €9,000.00
  • en
  • fr
  • es
  • it
  • de
  • ru
  • zh-CN
  • el
  • nl


1. Estimates and Reserves

Estimates are shown below each lot in this sale. All amounts shown are in Euro. The figures shown are provided merely as a guide to prospective purchasers. They are approximate prices which are expected, are not definitive and are subject to revision. Reserves, if any, will not be any higher than the lower estimate.

2. Artists Resale Rights (Droit de Suite) is NOT payable by purchasers

3. Paddle Bidding (In Person)

All intending purchasers must register for a paddle number before the auction. Please allow time for registration. We recommend reading "Buying at Adam's" for first time buyers from our web site for more information. Please be aware that photographic identification by way of passport or driving licence will be required for new registrants, together with a secure valid credit card. This is for security purposes only. Potential purchasers are recommended to register on viewing days.

3. Buyer's Premium, Payment & Delivery

Buyers Premium:

The buyer shall pay the Auctioneer a commission at the rate of 20% on the Hammer Price plus VAT @ 23% (applied only to the commission) on all individual lots.

For example on a hammer price of €1,000, the Buyer's Premium amounts to €200 and the VAT on the Buyer's Premium amounts to €46.00, giving a total amount due of €1,246


All purchases must be paid for within two calendar days of the sale. Our payment terms are cash, banker's draft or cheque drawn on an Irish bank. Cheques will take a minimum of five working days to clear the bank, unless they have been vouched to our satisfaction prior to the sale, or you have a previous cheque payment history with Adam's. We also accept the following Credit Cards: Visa & Mastercard, subject to a credit card surcharge of 1.5% of the total invoice value, & American Express, subject to a surcharge of 3.65%. Debit cards, including Laser card payments, are not subject to a surcharge, however there are daily limits on Laser Card payments. Bank Transfer details are available on request. Please ensure that all bank charges are paid in addition to the invoice total, in order to avoid delays in release of the items. Goods will only be released upon clearance through the bank of all monies due.

Delivery takes place the day after the sale from 10.00am to 5.00pm. Uncollected lots may be subject to storage and handling charges unless specific arrangements have been made with the department. It is important to make contact with us in this regard to avoid any unnecessary charges. Adam's outsource all carriage & shipping requests to recommended third parties whom we deal with on a regular basis. This list is available upon request.

4. VAT Regulations

All lots are sold within the Auctioneer's VAT Margin Scheme unless advised to the contrary. Revenue Regulations require that the Buyer's Premium must be invoiced at a rate which is inclusive of VAT. This is not recoverable by any VAT registered buyer.

The VAT on buyer's premium may be zero rated for lots exported outside of the EU. This facility is available to non-residents and has strict guidelines in relation to availing of this scheme. Please contact a member of the accounts department to enquire further.

5. Absentee and Telephone Bids

We are happy to execute absentee or written bids for bidders who are unable to attend or can arrange for bidding to be conducted by telephone. Bid forms are available from our web site or you can leave absentee bids online by registering on Cancellation of bids must be confirmed 24 hours before the auction.

Bidding by telephone may be booked on lots with a minimum estimate of €500. Early booking is advisable as availability of lines cannot be guaranteed.

6. Condition Reports

The property is sold "as is" therefore imperfections/defects are not stated in the catalogue description. It is up to the intending purchaser to satisfy themselves as to the condition of a lot(s) before bidding. Condition reports may be requested in advance of sale subject to our terms of business. The report is an expression of opinion only and must not be treated as a statement of fact.

7. Conditions of Sale

All lots are being sold under the Conditions of Sale as printed in the sale catalogue and on display in the salerooms or via our web site