2018-03-27-2018-12-18 --- 2018-12-18 13:05:22--18
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LOT :104
Hilary Heron (1923-1976)
Estimate EUR : €5,000.00 - €7,000.00
Auction Date : 27-03-2018


Hilary Heron (1923-1976)

Bird Barking (1959)

Welded steel, 213cm long, 105cm high (83¾ x 41¼)


Provenance: From the Collection of the late John Hunt who is thought to have been bought directly from the artist circa 1965 and thence by descent to the current owner.


Exhibited: Hilary Heron, The Waddington Galleries London, 1960. Cat. No. 2 .
Ulster Society of Women Artists, Belfast, 1961.
Hilary Heron Sculpture, Queens University Belfast, Visual Arts Group. 1963. Cat. No. 2.


Literature: Irish Women Artists: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present Day, National Gallery of Ireland/The Douglas Hyde Gallery. Illustrated Fig. 30. Page 44.


Hilary Heron (1923-77) was the pioneering figure in modern sculpture in Ireland in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. She attended the National College of Art in Dublin in the early 1940s and as a student she won the Taylor Art Scholarship Prize in three successive years. Heron exhibited at the first Irish Exhibition of Living Art in 1943 and continued to show with them for over twenty years. Winning the IELA Mainie Jellett travelling scholarship, she spent most of 1948 in Paris and was influenced by the Post War existentialist art she encountered.


She was related by marriage to playwright Samuel Beckett and he accompanied her to galleries and introduced her to the Paris art world. It was here that she became enamoured with welding as a sculptural medium having seen works by Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, and Julio González. The medium of ambitious modern sculpture between 1945 and 1960 was welded iron and Heron was the first Irish artist to exhibit welded sculpture. In doing so she influenced future generations of Irish sculptors. She was also something of a pioneer in two dimensional relief work using lead and other media. When her gallery Waddingtons moved to London in the mid-fifties she and Jack B. Yeats were the only two artists from their Dublin gallery who had London solo shows with them. By this time reviewers and commentators were universally positive, writing that Heron was Irelands only modern and most promising sculptor and in touch with outside influences. Her stature as Irelands foremost sculptor was re-enforced when she was selected with Louis le Brocquy to represent Ireland at the important Venice Biennale in 1956 where she exhibited nine carvings and three welded pieces.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s she shared a studio in London with the English sculptor Elisabeth Frink. It was here that Heron completed this current work. It was exhibited in her first London solo show which the review in The Observer newspaper described as bringing something fresh, diverting, and also very genuine to our inbred world of sculpture. Birds were a theme in Herons work and Bird Barking, 1959, in welded steel is one of the largest sculptures she made. This surreal work was prompted by a comment made by a city friend of hers, who couldnt sleep while staying in the countryside, because of the cuckoo barking. Heron is an important sculptor in Irish art history and she is under-represented in Irish public galleries, The Observer review suggested that her work should be bought for a public collection, that opportunity now presents itself again.


Billy Shortall March 2018




Hammer Price : €7,000.00
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