From a collection in Canada, it was taken above top estimate to €34,000 (£29,300) on December 2 in an auction of Irish and international art at Whyte’s (25/20/13.5% buyer’s premium). It is more than double the sum made at its last auction outing in June 2012 at Toronto saleroom Waddington’s.
Orpen created the 2ft 6in x 2ft 1in (76 x 63cm) oil on canvas of Capt Robert John Woods of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1919 in Paris where he was sent after the war to paint military men and statesmen.
“Long, slow looking, patience, and an accurate eye provide for great psychological penetration in Orpen’s picture of this quiet Ulsterman in uniform,” wrote the Irish art scholar, Kenneth McConkey, in the catalogue note.
Like Orpen, who had been posted as an official war artist to the Somme, Capt Woods had witnessed the horrors and desolation of the Western Front.
Two days later, fellow Dublin auction house Adam’s (25% buyer’s premium) sold a large 1960s oil on canvas by the Ulster Abstract painter William Scott (1913-89) for a bottom-estimate €150,000 (£127,000).
The picture was the most expensive lot sold in Adam’s last Important Irish Art sale of 2019. Red and Red, which had resided in a private collection in Dublin since 2008, belongs to a series of works in which Scott experimented with warm reds and ochres.
£1 = €1.18