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Paul Henry masterpiece to be sold

A masterpiece regarded as one of Paul Henry's finest works is going under the hammer.

The Potato Diggers is expected to fetch at least a quarter of a million euro when auctioned for the first time at Adam's in Dublin at the end of the month.

The iconic piece is being sold by the family who purchased it directly from the artist in the early 1930s.

James O'Halloran, Adam's managing director, said the oil painting has not been seen in public for more than 20 years.

"Already there has been significant interest in the painting from both home and overseas collectors, not surprisingly as this is perhaps the most significant work by one of Ireland's most loved painters to ever appear on the auction market," he said.

"It may well be the only opportunity to acquire such a gallery quality work by one of Ireland's 'Masters'."

The Potato Diggers was painted in 1910/11 when the artist had just returned from Paris and was on his first trip to Achill, when he lodged at the post office in Keel.

The large oil painting depicts an elderly man, known to be Johnny Toolis, and woman digging potatoes out of the stony Achill soil, against a backdrop of a typical blue mountain, probably Slievemore, and billowing clouds.

The piece is on view at the Ava Gallery, Clandeboye, Co Down, as part of Adam's highlights exhibition until next Thursday, when it moves to Adam's in Dublin ahead of the sale on May 29.

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