Most Expensive Irish Paintings
A list of the most valuable oil paintings sold at auction, by Francis Bacon, William Orpen, Jack B Yeats, John Lavery, Louis le Brocquy, William Scott, James Barry, Roderic O'Conor, Walter Osborne and Frank O'Meara.

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Top 10 Paintings
The highest priced works of art
by Irish painters, sold at auction.
For details of the world's most
highly priced works of art, see:
Top 10 Most Expensive Paintings
Top 20 Most Expensive Paintings

NOTE: No list of the most valuable
works of art by Irish artists would
be complete without Francis Bacon.
However, since he would constitute
a Top 10 by himself, we are limiting
him to 3 paintings only.


Most Expensive Irish Paintings
By Ireland's Top 10 Painters

See below for a list of Irish artists who have achieved the highest sale prices at auction, plus details of some of their record-breaking paintings. With one exception, all prices are listed in the local currency of the auction house. See also: Art News Headlines.

1. Francis Bacon (1909-92)
The world's most successful post-war contemporary artist is known for his disturbing expressionist, almost surrealistic, works, as well as his chaotic lifestyle. Following his death, the contents of his art studio located at 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington, were donated to the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin. Bacon's most highly priced paintings sold at auction include:

Three Studies of Lucian Freud (1969)
$142 million (Christie's, New York) (2013)
Triptych (1976).
$86.3 million (Sotheby's, New York, May 14, 2008).
Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards (1984)
$80.8 million (Christie's, New York) (2014)

Examples of Bacon's other multi-million dollar paintings include:

Study From Innocent X (1953).
$52.6 million (Sotheby's New York, 2007)

See: Best Irish Artists.


Three Studies for a Self Portrait (1979-80)
$34,457,475 (Christie's London, 30 June 2008)

Version No 2 of Lying Figure with Hypodermic Syringe (1968)
$19.31 million (Christie's New York, Nov 2006)

Crouching Nude (1952)
£8.3 million (Sotheby's London, June 2011)

Study from the Human Body, Man Turning on the Light (1974)
£8,084,500 (Christie's London, Oct 14 2007)

Portrait of George Dyer Staring into a Mirror (1967)
£4,936,000 (Christie's London, June 23 2005)

For more, see: Francis Bacon: Biography and Paintings.

4. Portrait of Gardenia St George
With Riding Crop. By William Orpen.
The highest priced example of
representational art in Ireland.

2. William Orpen RA RI HRHA (1878-1931)
Ireland's most eminent academic portrait painter and representational artist; the leading example of the Anglo-Irish tradition. Has influenced generations of portraitists in Ireland. His two most highly priced portrait paintings are:

Portrait of Gardenia St. George With Riding Crop (1912)
£1,983,500 (Sothebys London, June 2001)

Portrait of Mrs St. George (c.1920)
£924,000 (Sotheby's London, May 16 2003)

For more, see: William Orpen: Biography and Paintings.
For more about famous portraiture, see: Irish Portrait Artists.



3. Jack Butler Yeats RHA (1871-1957)
The greatest and most influential painter of Irish life and character, noted for his expressionist-style canvases and genre paintings.

The Whistle of a Jacket (1946)
£1.4 million (Christie's London, May 2001)

The Wild Ones (1947)
£1,233,500 (Sotheby's London, May 1999)

A Fair Day, Mayo (1925)
€1,000,000 (Adam's Dublin, Sept 2011)

A Blackbird Bathing in Tir na nOg (1943)
€820,000 (de Vere's Dublin, November 2005)

For more, see: Jack B Yeats: Biography and Paintings.
For more about genre works, see: Irish Genre Painters.

6. The Bridge at Grez. By John Lavery.
Most expensive example of plein air
painting by an Irish Artist

4. John Lavery RA RSA RHA (1856-1941)
The leading Irish Impressionist, noted for his plein-air painting, especially his Continental works.

The Bridge at Grez (1884)
£1,321,500 (Christie's London, Dec 1998)

The Honeymoon (1921)
£915,200 (Christie's London, May 2006)

Lady Evelyn Farquhar (1912)
£748,000 (Sotheby's London, May 2007)

Finale (1885-87)
£599,200 (Sotheby's London, May 13 2004)

For more, see: John Lavery: Biography and Paintings.
See also our survey of Plein-Air Painting.


5. Louis le Brocquy HRHA (1916-2012)
Ireland's greatest living visual artist, noted for his prolific creativity in numerous art forms including painting and tapestries.

Travelling Woman with Newspaper (1947)
£1,158,500 (Sotheby's London, May 18 2000)

Image of Samuel Beckett (1979)
£400,800.00 (Sotheby's, London, May 9 2007)

Note: In a private sale brokered by London art-dealers Agnew's in 2002, Louis Le Brocquy's masterpiece "A Family" (1951) was sold for £1.7 million.

For more, see: Louis le Brocquy: Biography and Paintings.
See also: Irish Exhibition of Living Art.

For more about the history of
fine arts in Ireland, see:
Irish Painting.

6. William Scott OBE RA (1913-89)
Outstanding Northern Ireland-based still life painter and semi-abstract artist.

Bowl, Eggs and Lemons (1950)
£1,071,650 (Christie's London, June 6 2008)

For more, see: William Scott: Biography and Artworks.
For more about the still life genre, see: Still Life Painting.

7. James Barry RA (1741-1806)
The most famous Irish artist of the 18th century, renowned for his grandiose history paintings executed in the classical style.

King Lear weeping over the body of Cordelia (1786-88)
£982,400 (Sotheby's London, May 2006)

For more, see: James Barry: Biography and Paintings.
For more about historical works, see: History Painting.

For a guide to trends and values in the
demand for artists of Ireland, please
see: Irish Art Market.

8. Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940)
Along with John Lavery and Walter Osborne, one of Ireland's most famous Impressionist-style painters of the Breton scene, including his iconic work "Breton Girl"; also noted for his colourist compositions and his lifelong love of France.

La Lisiere Du Bois (1890)
£792,000 (Sotheby's London, May 13 2005)

Nature Morte aux Pomme et aux Pots Bretons (1896)
£364,000 (Sotheby's London, May 13 2005)

La Jeune Bretonne (1895)
£344,000 (Sotheby's London, May 13 2005)

For more, see: Roderic O'Conor: Biography and Paintings.
For more about French Impressionist painting, see Impressionism Art.

10. King Lear Weeping over the body
of Cordelia.
By James Barry.

9. Walter Frederick Osborne RHA (1859-1903)
Technically, perhaps the most talented Irish plein-air Impressionist artist. Returned from the Continent to live in Dublin, but died young.

In the Garden, Castlewood Avenue (1901)
€825,330 (Adams Dublin, Dec 2001)

Dorothy And Irene Falkiner (Undated)
£580,500 (Sotheby's London, May 7 2008)

A New Arrival (1885)
£341,250 (Christie's London, May 14 2004)

For more, see: Walter Frederick Osborne: Biography and Paintings.
For details of plein-air Impressionists, see Impressionist Landscape Painting.

More Record-Breaking
Paintings by Irish Artists

Portrait of Mrs St George. William Orpen.

10. Frank O'Meara (1853-88)
Tragically short-lived, he is noted for his sensitive lyrical Impressionist-style landscapes which demonstrate his intense feel for light and colour.

Reverie (1882)
£450,000 (Christie's London, May 1999)

For more, see: Frank O'Meara: Biography and Paintings.
For more about landscape art in Ireland, see: Irish Landscape Artists.

Other Top-Priced Irish Artists

Among other highly priced Irish painters who have achieved major success in auctions, both in Ireland and abroad, are the following, together with their most famous paintings:

The Honeymoon. John Lavery.

Sean Scully (b.1945)
Ireland's most famous contemporary abstract artist, noted for his monumental semi-geometric-style compositions.

Wall of Light Stone (2000)
£565,250 (Sotheby's London, November 2010)

Wall of Light, Orange Green (2005)
£565,250 (Sotheby's London, November 2010)

For more about non-representational painting, see: Abstract Art.
For more about modern painters, see: Contemporary Irish Artists.

Sean Keating RHA (1889-1977)
Leading exponent of representational art in Ireland during the 1920s and 1930s, noted for his iconic images of the struggle for Independence.

Ulysses Off Connemara (1914-19)
£400,000 (Tennants Auctioneers, March 2007)

Men of Aran - An Tra - Inis Oirr (1925)
€190,000 (James Adams, March 2005)

Nathaniel Hone (The Elder) RA (1718-84)
Irish-born portrait artist; one of the founder members of the Royal Academy in London.

Portrait of Lieutenant-General the Hon Philip Sherard and Captain William Tiffin at the Battle of Brücke-Mühl (1762)
£294,500 (Christie's London, May 2008)


Paul Henry RHA RUA (1876-1958)
The most famous 'Irish landscape' artist, noted for his evocative 'sky, bog and turf' paintings of the West of Ireland.

The Potato Diggers (1910-11)
€400,000 (Adam's Dublin, May 2013)

Leo Whelan RHA (1892-1956)
One of the leading indigenous Irish artists, noted for his meticulous genre paintings and portraits.

Portrait of a Woman and King Charles Spaniel (Undated)
€265,000 (de Veres Dublin, 2007)

Daniel O'Neill (1920-74)
One of the most famous artists of the 'Belfast school'. Largely self-taught, he is noted for his semi-expressionist figurative works.

Reclining Figure (Undated)
£216,500 (Sotheby's, May 7 2008)

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