Now you can own a Jack B Yeats for €200
MOST art collectors can only dream of hanging a work by Jack B Yeats on their wall.
Yet, for those with more modest pockets it may soon be within their grasp as watercolours from one of the artist's sketchbook go on the market shortly.
Admittedly, the miniature sketches - which measure-in at the size of a postcard, around 4in by 3in - may not offer quite the same attraction as his key masterpieces such as 'The Liffey Swim'.
Ian Whyte, managing director of Whyte and Sons Auctioneers, explained the sketchbook will be split up into 30 individual pieces, which will allow more modest collectors the chance to purchase at a more affordable estimate of €200 upwards.
"Many would love to own a Jack Yeats work but they can fetch anywhere from €5,000 to €1m on the open market," Mr White explained.
"These give opportunities to own an actual original watercolour done by the master," Mr White said. "It is nice to have a Jack Yeats in your collection; it is like a stamp collector having a Penny Black."
The small collection depicts everyday scenes from 1899 around Gort, Co Galway, including people, horses, boats, a football match and Coole Lake, near where Lady Gregory resided.
The sketchbook was a gift from the artist to his friend and supporter, IRA leader and author Ernie O'Malley. It has been offered for sale in Whyte's auction of Irish and British Art on October 4 next in Dublin by a descendent of Mr O'Malley.
There are more than 200 sketchbooks from the artist in the National Gallery of Ireland's collection which formed part of the materials kept by his late niece Anne Yeats, daughter of the poet WB Yeats.
Leah Benson, archivist at the gallery, said it was "not that unusual" to see the sketches for sale separately.
The sketches can be removed without damage due to the type of ringback sketchbook the artist used.
"From an integrity perspective it is better they remain together but that is not always the case in terms of auctions," she added.
"The art market like every other has been hit by the recession. Art is discretionary," Mr Whyte said, adding that the rare works were still fetching millions of euro on world markets.
"The middle market is very quiet. Pictures from €5,000 to €100,000 have come back 20pc to 50pc on the peak price of 2007. The good thing is the genuine collector is back in the market."
The more traditional artists such as Sir John Lavery, William Orpen, Walter Osborne and Jack Yeats remain in demand. The works in the auction by artists including Orpen, Evie Hone, Cecil Maguire, Louis le Brocquy and Markey Robinson are expected to fetch €300,000 to €400,000 in total.
Mr Whyte said there were works for "recessionary collectors" with estimated prices from €200 to €20,000.