Lost Henry works found among inherited collection

The paintings could fetch up to $80,000 (€68,000) each when the hammer does finally come down in almost a fortnight’s time.

Two works by Irish artist Paul Henry, once owned by a famed Cavan man, will go under the hammer at Caza Sikes auction in Cincinnati on September 8.

The paintings, acquired by Sir Patrick McGovern, a native of Blacklion in the 1920s or 1930s, were among the final items taken from a storage unit by the owner, McGovern’s great grandson, who initially believed them to be prints and worth practically nothing.

They could now end up fetching up to $80,000 (€68,000) each when the hammer does finally come down in almost a fortnight’s time.

McGovern, a celebrated tunnel-building engineer, migrated to the United States in 1891.

He financed the renovations of St Patrick’s Church in Killinagh, outside Blacklion, before his death in 1933.

It is believed the paintings - both landscapes - may have been purchased by his daughter Mary Geraldine, or by McGovern himself, during one of their many visits back to Ireland. It is also possible they could have been bought from one of the many early 20th century exhibits featuring Henry’s paintings in cities where McGovern was in the midst of large tunnel projects.

Both works were framed under glass by the now closed New York Madison Avenue framing firm.

Henry (1877-1958) is regarded as one of, if not the most, notable Irish landscape painters of the 19th and 20th centuries.

‘In Connemara’, an oil on board, is signed to the front lower right by Henry, and inscribed and titled in graphite in verso.

The second painting, ‘Untitled’ and a work of oil on canvas is seen as being nearly identical in setting to Henry’s composition ‘A Blue Day’.

It is not the first time works by Henry have randomly shown up across the Atlantic.

Last year, a West of Ireland landscape titled ‘Celtic Cross’ sold for $45,000 (€41,200) and was taken back to Ireland where it sold at a Morgan O’Driscoll sale for €105,000.

A new world record was set for Henry when ‘A Sunny Day, Connemara’ made €420,000 through Whyte’s. It had been estimated at €150,000-€200,000, while in July 2021 ‘Mountains and Lake, Connemara’ achieved £622,500 (€730,199) at the Christie’s BJ Eastwood sale.