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Saturday 23 September 2017

Hone artwork set for auction

Evie Hone's stained glass masterpiece adorns Government Buildings

TRANSPARENT SALE: then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announces his resignation in front of the stained-glass window of Hone’s work at Government Buildings in 2008.
TRANSPARENT SALE: then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announces his resignation in front of the stained-glass window of Hone’s work at Government Buildings in 2008.
Eamon Delaney

Eamon Delaney

It's a familiar backdrop to major government announcements, and the resignation of Taoisigh, as well as state visits.

The big stained-glass window above the interior staircase of Government Buildings on Merrion Street, appropriately titled 'My Four Green Fields', can be seen above the heads of Fianna Fail and Green Party Ministers announcing their coalition and then above the same worried heads, for the dramatic resignation of Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach.

Now the original gouache design for the window by celebrated artist Evie Hone (1894-1955) is up for auction at Whyte's auctioneers and will be sold tomorrow, along with designs for other stained-glass works by the artist.

'My Four Green Fields' was created in 1939 and it is to the credit of another former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, that it was installed in 1990 as a central part of the new offices of government.

Today the Edwardian building, along with the Hone window, forecourt fountain and campanile clock is part of the landscape of government.

Hone's big window was originally commissioned by the old Department of Industry and Commerce for the Irish Government's Pavilion at the New York World Trade Fair. It was installed in the CIE Head Office on O'Connell Street in 1960 but later removed to storage in Kilmainham at the request of the OPW, where it languished until it was installed in its present location in 1990 at the top of the foyer staircase in "the corridors of power".

According to James White, former Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, 'My Four Green Fields' is amongst the most important of Hone's works, with "a feeling of new assurance centred in the features and disposition of the figures." It was almost as "if the curvaceous and rounded line of the Byzantine world were added to the Northern, Gothic style which the artist seemed to possess in common with the medieval craftsmen of Chartres and Poitiers."

The gouache design has a guide price of about €4,000 and can be purchased by any Minister or former Taoiseach nostalgic for the heady days of office.

Irish Independent

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