€15,000 - €20,000
Sean Keating (1889-1977)
“Village on the Aran Islands,” c.1950, oils on board, 44cms x 61cms (17” x 24”), Signed lower right 'Keating'.
In 1911, having won a scholarship to the Dublin Metropolitan School, Sean Keating moved from his home city of Limerick to Dublin. Settling into his studies, he quickly developed a life-long regard for his tutor William Orpen, whose style of Realism, tempered by Impressionist and Romantic overtones, Keating adopted. Orpen reciprocated this admiration, recognising his pupil's talents as a draughtsman, and employed him as an assistant. Keating also appears in several paintings by Orpen. However, Keating was torn between the world inhabited by Orpen, who had a successful portrait practice in London, and his own wish to capture the spirit of his native country, as it emerged from centuries of British rule. In 1914, Keating was introduced to the Aran Islands by his friend and fellow student Harry Clarke. Although Keating was low in funds, Clarke assured him that he could live inexpensively on Inis Oirr, the smallest of the islands. Thereafter, although he worked as an assistant for Orpen in London, Keating was drawn to paint landscapes and genre scenes on the Aran Islands. The introduction of conscription in England in 1916 helped him to make up his mind, and he returned to Ireland permanently. In spite of Keating's efforts to persuade Orpen to go with him, the latter opted to remain in London, and was commissioned as a war artist. Over the years Keating continued to visit the Aran Islands, in an attempt to capture what remained of a pure, Gaelic heritage, free of modern consumerist influence. However, that very purity and authenticity was what drew visitors to the Islands, and in time, tourism came to replace farming and fishing as the mainstay of the islands' economy.
In this painting, probably depicting a scene on Inis Oirr, the smallest of the islands, Keating picks out a view of houses above a landscape of dunes that is clearly being eroded by storms and rain. A fragile sward of green turf is receding, as sand is blown away, exposing rocks that litter the gully in the sands. Although highlighting the fragility of the islands' ecosystem, the painting is nevertheless a wonderful evocation of a fine windy day in the West of Ireland, painted with delicacy and skill. Keating draws with his paint brush, tracing the lines of the landscape, and suggests, rather than paints in detail, the areas of green grass. The light ochre underpainting is left exposed in several areas. Set on a ridge above sand dunes, the village is the same as that depicted in the background of a larger painting by Keating, Waiting for the Steamer.
Dr. Peter Murray, 2022
Provenance: Formerly in the collection of An t'Athair Eric Mac Fhinn (1895-1987) of Galway, Patron of the Arts & Noted Scholar.
Fees apply to the hammer price:
Room and Absentee Bids:
25% inc VAT*
Online and Autobids:
28.075% inc VAT*