2018-05-30-2019-01-23 --- 2019-01-23 01:06:02--18
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LOT :33
Norah McGuinness HRHA (1901-1980)
The Liffey
Oil on board, 40 x 59cm (15¾ x 23¼'')
Estimate EUR : €10,000.00 - €15,000.00
Auction Date : 30-05-2018


Norah McGuinness HRHA (1901-1980)
The Liffey
Oil on board, 40 x 59cm (15 x 23'')

Provenance: Victor Waddington Galleries, (Label verso) probably bought by Kevin Fitzgerald in the early 1950's and thence by descent to the current owner.

The Liffey dates to the late 1940s or early 1950s when Norah McGuinness produced several paintings of the city of Dublin and its main artery. It depicts the Liffey quays looking southwest with Guinnesss brewery, St. Augustines Church and Merchants Quay dominating the view. Its bright colours and the inclusion of two young women, one very fashionably dressed, manage to make Dublin look like Paris, a city that McGuinness knew well having studied there in the 1920s. The sweeping branches of the quayside trees add a note of intimacy to the barren banks of the river. The interaction of the figures with the gulls that sweep over the Liffey adds to the tranquil ambiance. The attention that McGuinness pays to this component, including the depiction of a large swan swimming in the waters below, is prophetic of her later passion for painting seabirds in urban environments.

This is the kind of painting that McGuinness showed at the Venice Biennale in 1950 when she and Nano Reid represented the new Republic of Ireland. Her painting has a distinctly cosmopolitan air. Its representation of Dublin as urban and industrial but also stylish and modern was a radical way of depicting Ireland. Equally, while a rather idealized view, the work captures the combination of informality and open space that characterises the city of Dublin.

McGuinness subtly deploys her knowledge of French modernism in her treatment of the painting. She had studied cubism in Paris with Andre Lhote. The elements of the composition are subsumed beneath a delicate matrix of patterned brushstrokes. This is evident in the brickwork of the quay wall, the line of lamps across the bridge, the elegant forms of the chimneys and especially the distinctive green dome of St. Patricks Tower, the defunct windmill, of the former Roe Distillery on Thomas Street, (on the extreme right). The refined deployment of blues, pinks and yellows heightens the sense of light and space. This is a charismatic painting of city life that includes many of its diverse elements and yet manages to also succeed as an appealing example of modern painting.

Risn Kennedy
May 2018

Hammer Price : €14,000.00
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