Yeats painting breaks auction record
Friday 17 May 1996
A painting bought by Laurence Olivier for his wife Vivien Leigh has sold at auction for a record-breaking pounds 804,500. A Farewell To Mayo, by the Irish artist Jack Butler Yeats, was bought by an American private collector bidding by telephone against a packed saleroom at Sotheby's in London. It was the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by Yeats.
Olivier bought the painting from an exhibition at the National Gallery in London in 1942, two years after his marriage to Leigh. It shows a lone emigrant and driver in a horse cart, leaving Mayo at dusk to board a ship for America. Art historians says the work marks a turning point in Yeats's work and in the Irish artistic movement of the 20th century.
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