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Belfast artist’s golf course painting to sell for over £300,000

By Dick Barton

Published 08/11/2016

The Golf Links painting by Belfast artist Sir John Lavery, which will be sold at Sotheby’s in London later this month
The Golf Links painting by Belfast artist Sir John Lavery, which will be sold at Sotheby’s in London later this month
Sir John Lavery

A 1921 oil painting by one of Belfast's most celebrated artists is expected to sell for at least £300,000 when it is auctioned later this month.

The work by Sir John Lavery is titled 'The Golf Links, North Berwick'.

This year marks the 160th anniversary of Lavery's birth in Belfast.

His father, Henry Lavery, ran a pub in North Queen's Street. He tragically died in 1859 when the ship on which he was travelling to America sank off the Irish coast with the loss of 386 lives.

He and his Belfast-born sister Jane were orphans, brought up by relatives.

Despite this difficult start, Lavery went on to become one of the finest artists Belfast has ever produced.

He was knighted in 1918 and, three years later, in March 1921, his importance as an artist was officially confirmed when he became the first Belfast-born painter to be elected to the Royal Academy in London. He died in 1941.

Only two other Belfast-born men, Patrick MacDowell and Tim Shaw - both sculptors, have become Royal Academicians.

Lavery's first wife, Kathleen, died while giving birth to their daughter, Eileen.

On July 22, 1909 Lavery wed glamorous widow Hazel Trudeau.

She features in the Golf Links painting, which is now set to fetch between £300,000 and £500,000 at Sotheby's in London on November 22.

Stepdaughter Alice, the central figure in the painting, later recalled: "I used to play with my father. He was only a moderate player, impatient and always in a hurry. He said his golf was more like 'dismounted polo' and it was.

"I was more seriously competitive and did not enjoy it when he beat me, usually mostly because he was always in such a hurry.

"Considering his age, against mine, the boots should have been on the other foot, don't you think?

"I have laughed about it since, but he was such a nice person and I loved him dearly."

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Lavery and Hazel were supporters of Irish Home Rule.

"After the establishment of the Irish Free State they spent much time in Dublin, although Lavery never denied or neglected his roots in Belfast: he presented large groups of his paintings to both cities," it states.

Lavery paintings owned by the Ulster Museum include portraits of Viscount Craigavon, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland; the seventh Marquess of Londonderry, who was chancellor of Queen's University of Belfast; and Hugh O'Neill, the first Speaker of the House of Commons of Northern Ireland.

The current world auction record for a work by Sir John Lavery is £1,321,500. It was paid at Christie's in London in 1998 for his 1883 oil painting The Bridge At Grez.

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