Seán Keating (Irish, 1889-1977)
Two Seated Figures, c. 1952 / A Study for An Beinsin Luachra [The Song of a Bunch of Rushes]
Signed "KEATING." l.r., inscribed "Connemara/ ...tng" on a partial label affixed to
Mixed media (charcoal and pastel) on paper, sheet size 21 3/4 x 21 1/2 in. (55.2 x 54.6 cm), framed.
Condition: Foxing, minor acid burn, subtle rippling, brown paper taped to window mat.
Provenance: Acquired by Louis and Yvonne Jammet, Paris, France; by descent to their daughter Raymonde Jammet Kiersey (1923-2008), Westford and Dunstable, Massachusetts; present owner by family descent.
N.B. We wish to thank Dr. Éimear O'Connor HRHA for her kind assistance with cataloguing the lot.
In 1952 Seán Keating began a series of studies for an oil painting. He worked on several drawings, sketches and studies, many of which still exist, although this is an unusual example owing to the fact that it is in colour pastel. His idea was to place a lady, dressed in what was then traditional Connemara costume, beside a seafaring man, as if the two were about to become a couple. In this example, the male is vaguely modelled on Keating, although it is not a self-portrait, and the woman's face can be understood as his idealised image of an Irish beauty. The study has a light, somewhat playful atmosphere, in which the woman seems interested in her suitor, but has decided to let him chase her a little more. The painting, for which this example was a study, was eventually made in 1952 and Keating titled it 'An Beinsin Luachra', or 'The Song of a Bunch of Rushes.' The artist was always interested in music, and the title of the painting comes from that of an eponymous old Irish song which refers to the beauty, honour and virtue of true love expressed as a meeting between two people, away from friends and prying eyes, during which the pure and innocent delight in each other's company is evident.
The handwriting on the label attached to the reverse is not Keating's, and was likely added, along with the title 'Connemara' when the study was framed. The signature on the front bottom right of the study is Keating's. The artist often sold his sketches and studies, but with different titles than the finished paintings. He had an exhibition of drawings and studies in the Ritchie Hendriks Gallery on St Stephen's Green in the city of Dublin in 1956, but the catalogue does not contain any reference to 'An Beinsin Luachra', or indeed, to 'Connemara.' The study is not mentioned in any RHA catalogues for the 1950s either, and as it is no longer in its original frame, it is nearly impossible to tell whether it was ever exhibited publically or not prior to it entering the Jammet collection. The most likely answer to the question about how the study came into the ownership of the Jammet's is that it was purchased, but with a different title, from the Hendriks Gallery, or it was given either by the artist, or a friend, to the couple who ran a popular restaurant at the Trinity College end of Nassau Street for a long number of years before it closed in 1967.
Louis Jammet (1894-1964) was born into a family of Parisian restaurateurs and owned the eponymous French-style restaurant, Jammet, in Dublin, Ireland from 1928 to 1964. Jammet's was visited by both the Irish and American literati and glitterati, including such notables as James Joyce, William Butler Yates, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor. Yvonne (nee Auger) Jammet (1900-1967) was a painter and sculptor who trained at the Académie Julian in the studio of Jean Paul Laurens, and later became a member of the Anglo-Irish avant-garde White Stag Group. (1)
(1) Mac Con Iomaire, M. Louis Jammet. In J. McGuire (ed.), Dictionary of Irish Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Vol. 4, pp. 956-958.
No additional condition issues to report.