Nathaniel Hone RHA (1831 - 1917) Yachts in Dublin Bay Oil on...

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Nathaniel Hone RHA (1831 - 1917) Yachts in Dublin Bay Oil on canvas laid down, 34 x 52cm (13¼ x 24½) Provenance: Acquired from the artist by Sir Robert Henry Woods (1865-1938) and thence by descent; On reverse a label of Daniel Egan, 26 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin This and the previous lot, both by Nathaniel Hone (1831-1917) come from the collection formed by the artist’s friend, the eminent Dublin surgeon and Member of Parliament, Sir Robert Henry Woods (1865–1938). Born in Tullamore in humble circumstances, he enjoyed a glittering career at Trinity College, Dublin and, as the Dictionary of Irish Biography notes, ‘graduated MB, BAO, B.Ch. in 1889 and the following year received a surgical travelling prize which enabled him to visit Austria. Following in the footsteps of Sir William Wilde, he studied ear, nose, and throat surgery in Vienna. Though he is known principally for his work in ENT surgery, he made fundamental contributions to the understanding of the biophysics of cardiac function’. On his return to Ireland Woods secured several eminent positions in Dublin hospitals and opened a private practice at 39 Merrion Square. He soon won a European-wide reputation and, according to his pupil, Oliver St John Gogarty, was a ‘dextrous’ and ‘masterly’ surgeon. Woods was a popular figure in Irish cultural circles and served as president of the Royal Dublin Zoological Society, presenting ‘a number of animals to the zoo following a visit to the Far East to see one of his sons, who was a barrister in Malaysia’ (DIB). He was knighted in 1913. Respected on both sides of an increasingly polarised Irish society, in July 1921 Woods took part in the Mansion House Conference which led to a truce in hostilities between Republican and British forces. Nathaniel Hone painted the sea in all its varied conditions with greater skill and understanding than perhaps any Irish artist. His deep knowledge of the sea was based on first-hand experience. As Julian Campbell notes, he came from a keen yachting family and ‘developed an interest in all kinds of boats and sailing vessels’ – including, as here, distant yachts – and some of his most appealing works are his relatively rare pure seascapes, especially a group painted in Dublin Bay and in the West of Ireland in the late 1880s and ‘early ‘90s. In his ‘wave paintings’ the traditional focus of maritime painting, the depiction of shipping, is relegated to distant specs on the horizon. The influence of John Constable and Gustave Courbert is clear and specifically the latter’s The Wave (La vague) exhibited at the Salon in 1870 and acquired by the Louvre eight years later, and a group of associated works. Campbell writes: ‘although his paintings lack the frozen rock-like weight of Courbert’s seas and leaden skies, and the heavy symbolic quality, Hone’s wave paintings are also expressive of the artist’s feelings in the face of elemental nature’ (Julian Campbell, in Nathaniel Hone, NGI, catalogue, 1991, 57). Hone had also looked at the seascapes by James Abbott McNeill Whistler and the work of Impressionist artists such as Claude Monet, but, as so often, he deploys lessons learnt on the continent to create recognisably Irish imagery. Closely comparable and contemporaneous works include A North-East Breeze, showing Ireland’s Eye from Portmarnock (Private collection) and Coast of County Clare (Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane).

Auction Date:
29th May 24 at 6pm BST

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Sale Dates:
29th May 2024 6pm BST (Lots 1.00 to 124.00)