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Auction: IMPORTANT IRISH ART SALE
was auctioned on: 1 October 2008
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Mary Swanzy HRHA (1882-1978) Moonlit

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Estimate: €1,882 - €1,978
ca. US$2,507 - US$2,635
Price realised:  €9,500
ca. US$12,655
Lot number 63, Views: 18

Mary Swanzy HRHA (1882-1978) Moonlit Figures with Birds Oil on canvas, 36 x 46cm (14 x 18'') Mary Swanzy combines the allegorical with the poetic in this, one of her most unusual and mysterious pictures, with its dark-skinned figures, seaside setting with islands, and its crescent moon and star. A tall girl with dark face and long dress is seated elegantly upon the ground. Her face is round and mask-like. One elbow rests on a red pole with circular platform, her hand gently pulling at her hair. The other arm is held behind her back. The woman's figure is set against, or contained within, a dark oval background with trees. To her left are two other dark-skinned figures with mask-like faces. The central figure stands on a beach bearing a white cat in his arms, perhaps as a gift to the woman, and wears a strange skirt. The right-hand man reaches up to place a garland of ochre leaves on the head of her companion. At their feet is a red hen. As in, many of Swanzy's allegorical pictures, the sense of space is puzzling. The dark oval shape which surrounds the woman is like a forest with trees, but it could equally be an island seen from above. This, in turn, is contained in a striped platform, like a ploughed field or a wooden stage. The other figures stand on a small bench, while behind them is an alluring seascape with small rocky islands, seen from above, merging into a beautiful night-time sky, with crescent moon accompanied by the evening star. The central rocky island resembles a Great Skellig island off the coast of Co. Kerry, while the smaller islets may refer to the Blasket group; or a string of Greek islands in The Aegean. Above them is the undulating coastline of a larger, dark island, or perhaps an approaching rain-filled cloud. Amongst the most mysterious features of the painting are the mask-like faces of the figures, the red hen, the tree with white buds that reaches upwards in the centre of the composition, and the red pole with circular platform, like a piece of garden furniture, or a golfing tee. And. Not, not least, are the golden lines that whirl around the young woman's head, like a thicket of thorns, barbed wire, or lines of energy, contrasting with her impassive expression. The forms are more crisply delineated than in many of Swanzy's imaginary pictures, but the meaning of the painting is far from clear. The young woman is pensive, aloof even. Is she holding something back, with her hand behind her back? Do the whirling lines convey separation, or anger? Is she expecting a child? The two other figures may be bearing gifts. But is one crowning the other emperor? Is the white cat eating a white bird? The large, dark, island-like forms could suggest the coastlines of Ireland and England, or Scotland; or of Europe and Africa, thus hinting at Anglo-Irish relations, or at Mediterranean and African culture and history. The white cat, red hen, and budding plant add to the mysterious mood, while the crescent moon and star rising in the night-time sky add a haunting poetic beauty to Swanzy's painting. Julian Campbell, October 2008 Mary Swanzy HRHA (1882-1978) Moonlit Figures with Birds Oil on canvas, 36 x 46cm (14 x 18'') Mary Swanzy combines the allegorical with the poetic in this, one of her most unusual and mysterious pictures, with its dark-skinned figures, seaside setting with islands, and its crescent moon and star. A tall girl with dark face and long dress is seated elegantly upon the ground. Her face is round and mask-like. One elbow rests on a red pole with circular platform, her hand gently pulling at her hair. The other arm is held behind her back. The woman's figure is set against, or contained within, a dark oval background with trees. To her left are two other dark-skinned figures with mask-like faces. The central figure stands on a beach bearing a white cat in his arms, perhaps as a gift to the woman, and wears a strange skirt. The right-hand man reaches up to place a garland of ochre leaves on the hea

Informations about the auction
Auction house: Adams's
Title: IMPORTANT IRISH ART SALE
Date of the auction: 1 Oct 2008
Address: Adams's
St Stephens Green 26
D02 X665 Dublin 2
Ireland
[email protected] · +353-1-6760261)