Adam's IMPORTANT IRISH ART 8th December 2021

20 11 EDWARD MCGUIRE RHA (1932-1986) Barn Owl Oil on board, 30 x 22cm (11¾ x 8¾’’) Signed with initials and dated (19)’85; also signed, inscribed and dated 1985 verso € 6,000 - 8,000 Edward McGuire’s paintings are unmistakable for their slightly uncanny, surreal quality. Their dreamlike character emerges, almost paradoxically, from the sense of heightened reality he achieves in his portrait and still life subjects. The latter con- sisted chiefly of taxidermal birds, particularly owls, and occasionally dead game birds. McGuire was a son of the charismatic Senator Edward McGuire, a high profile sportsman and at the time owner of Brown Thomas. Despite fragile health in his ear- ly years, the young Edward grew up to be a sports enthusiast himself. Half-hearted efforts to guide him towards the family business never gained traction. He studied art history, then painting, in Florence and Rome – with a subsequent spell at the Slade in London, where he came into contact with Lucian Freud. Freud and a good friend of his, the Irish painter Patrick Swift, were by far the most important influenc- es on McGuire’s painting. Like Freud, he combined an often bohemian lifestyle with a focused commitment to his work and, again like Freud, he was a slow, painstaking worker: to complete four paintings a year was a good average, he reckoned. Many consider him to be the best Irish portrait painter yet. He had an affinity for poetry and poets (many, including Seamus Heaney, John Montague, Michael Longley, Michael Hartnett and Paul Durcan feature in his impressive roll-call of subjects). But it’s fair to say his heart was in his bird paintings. He was just 20 when he met the Natural History Museum’s venerable taxidermist and acquired three birds from him, an owl, a lapwing and a duck. That same owl is probably the bird in this and several other paintings. “I am not a genius…” McGuire wrote, “I know my limitations and that is why I lay so much stress on the technical side.” He painted with reference to his own colour dictionary and tonal scale, com- piled over a ten-year period and, he noted, regardless of subject, each painting was for him a precise construction and an exploration of colour and tonal values. Aidan Dunne, October 2021