‘Turf Stacks in Connemara,’ Paul Henry painting sold for $105k in Australia

A group of siblings in Australia was shocked to discover that a painting that’s been in their family’s possession for decades was actually by famous Irish artist Paul Henry and valued at nearly $100k.

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The Age reports that Paul Henry’s painting ‘Turf Stacks in Connemara’ hung in the Strachan family home in Geelong, Australia for decades after being purchased by the siblings’ grandfather James Ford Strachan III and passed down to their father James Ford Strachan IV.

The painting reportedly never had a valuation done and when Strachan IV passed away earlier this year, the siblings decided to sell off their father's collection of 25 paintings, not expecting to make much of a profit.

To their shock, one of the paintings was confirmed by Auctioneers Leonard Joel to be by Irish post-impressionist artist Paul Henry, who they say was among Ireland’s best-known painters in the 1920s and 30s. 

According to ArtNet, Henry was born in Belfast in 1877 and died in Bray, Co Wicklow in 1958. In 2012, RTÉ shared this video about the Belfast native who went on to become one of Ireland's most famous artists:

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Leonard Joel Auctioneers said they worked with Paul Henry expert Dr. S. B. Kennedy when researching the painting, who said: "This picture is certainly the work of Paul Henry. The clouds which cover more than half the composition and his use of light are typical of Henry's style of work. The scene in a remote area of Connemara is a tranquil one, one can see many reflections of the clouds and turf stacks in the water in the foreground."

The auctioneers valued his ‘Turf Stacks at Connemara’ at $60,000 to $80,000.  However, the painting exceeded expectations when a UK art consultant purchased the work for a staggering $105,000 on September 3.

John Albrecht, managing director at Leonard Joel, told The Age that the discovery of Paul Henry's painting was a thrill, and that the auction's result showed "the auction world is no longer held back by distance and that important works of international art find their price no matter where in the world they are sold."

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Philip Strachan said: ''We didn't recognize the artist so we had no idea what the value would be.

"If he were alive he would be shocked and surprised to know that one of his paintings that he enjoyed looking at sold for $105,000."

'Turf Stacks in Connemara' by Irish artist Paul Henry sold for more than $100k in an Australian auction.Leonard Joel Auctions