Two paintings by Ireland’s greatest Impressionist, found buried in Ohio storage unit, could fetch $ 60,000 at auction


One Ohio family got more than they bargained for when they put their parents’ estate up for auction. On the back of the storage unit was a pair of forgotten artwork, long believed to be cheap prints. In fact, they were two real oil paintings by Paul Henry (1876-1958), Ireland’s foremost Impressionist artist. The rediscovered works are expected to fetch at least $ 60,000 when they go up for auction next month.

When Cincinnati auction house Caza Sikes got the call to sell Carol and Robert Kane’s collection, they were told the couple had been avid travelers and art collectors, with a great selection of items to choose from. Chinese ceramics and some modern art pieces: a Marc Chagall lithograph, an ink drawing by Saul Steinberg and a screen print by Roy Lichtenstein.

But after a long day of reviewing the contents of the storage unit, sifting through boxes of jewelry, sterling silver, antique rugs and pottery, Will Sikes, a partner of the family auction house , immediately suspected that Henry’s paintings, lying forgotten in a back corner, were something special.

“The sender knew almost every piece by heart, and he said ‘Oh, I think these are a few prints, you’re probably not going to blame it,” Sikes told Artnet News. “My brother Graydon is a Antiques Road Show assessor, and he immediately recognized that it wasn’t fingerprints and that it was Paul Henry.

Carol and Robert Kane of Oxford, Ohio, were art lovers and collectors. But a pair of Patrick Henry paintings they inherited have proven to be by far the most valuable works of their estate. Photo courtesy of Caza Sikes.

The sender almost passed out when he heard the news, reports the Irish time. Henry’s works have proven to be by far the most valuable in the entire field.

Known for his idealized landscapes of the Irish countryside, Paul Henry “is the only artist every Irish collector should have in their collection,” Sikes added. “He is very close to the Irish people for his ability to capture this moment and the beautiful countryside and express it through his paintings.”

The artist’s auction record is £ 622,500 ($ 861,591), set last month at Christie’s London for Mountains and lake, Connemara, according to the Artnet price database.

The record canvas measured 28 inches by 32 inches, compared to just 13 by 15 inches for the newly discovered Ohio Henrys. And although similar-sized works by the artist have fetched six-figure prices in recent years, Caza Sikes has opted for fairly conservative estimates of just $ 30,000 each, for the paintings in its “September 2021” auction. Estates + Collections “on September 8th.

But the paintings, which were previously undocumented, are extraordinarily well preserved and “quite in its main style with Henry’s most desirable subject,” Sikes said.

In Connemara and an untitled view of a Connemara landscape both depict the Connemara coast in Western Ireland, one of Henry’s recurring subjects. This latter work is almost identical to the artist’s well-known painting A blue day.

But the Kane family had owned the works for so many generations that their significance had been forgotten.

Paul Henry, Connemara.  Photo courtesy of Caza Sikes, Cincinnati.

Paul Henri, In Connemara. Photo courtesy of Caza Sikes, Cincinnati.

The shipper’s great-grandfather, Patrick McGovern, immigrated to the United States from Blacklion, Ireland, in 1891, and became a successful civil engineer, serving as chief structural architect and builder of tunnels for subways and aqueducts in Philadelphia, Boston and New York.

McGovern or his daughter Mary Geraldine Kane likely purchased the works in the early 20th century, either during visits to his home in Ireland or from Henry’s New York dealer James Healy.

And although Henry didn’t usually sell his work with glass frames, a family member had the good sense to bring the works to the Framing Guild New York on Madison Avenue early on. This kept the paintings in excellent condition, protected from dust and dirt for the next 100 years.

“Find something pristine that has been hidden behind glass, that has been out of public sight for a century, with a really interesting provenance, from an Irish immigrant who made his life and career here in the States- United – is very rare for any of Henry’s works, let alone two of them, ”Sikes said. “It was really really a big surprise at the end of the day.”

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