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    February 22nd, 2017

    Pablo Picasso – Plant de tomates

    Painted days before the liberation of Paris Picasso’s Plant de tomates comes up at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in London on March 1.  Picasso’s series of five paintings of a tomato plant in bloom in the Paris apartment he shared with his lover Marie-Thérèse are ripe with personal as well as wider political and cultural significance. Symbolic of victory in Europe they were a way of reflecting the spirit of hope and resilience that characterised this time.  Estimated at £10-15 million this is the most complex and visually striking example of the war period series. This museum quality work has been in a private collection for four decades.  It was sold at Sotheby’s in New York in 1976.

    Samuel Valette, Sotheby’s Senior Specialist in Impressionist & Modern Art, commented: “This exceptional work by Pablo Picasso was painted at a moment of particular tension during the war: the liberation of Paris. As such, it is infused with a sense of renewed energy and hope that distinguishes it from other wartime still-lifes, which were imbued with a more sombre and dark mood. It shows that there was light at the end of the tunnel. For Picasso, the very act of continuing to paint as normal was an act of resistance, and following the Liberation, his atelier became a must-see for the allied soldiers who wanted to witness what the master had created in the war years.”


    February 21st, 2017

    A selection of Italian paintings and sculptures from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries from the Galleria Borghese in Rome will make up the loan exhibition at The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) Maastricht this year.  This is the first time that so many important works will be exhibited outside of the Galleria in Rome. TEFAF runs from March 10-19.

    Among the highlights at the exhibition entitled ‘Galleria Borghese – An Italian Legacy’ are a large canvas by the Neapolitan painter, Giovanni Battista [Battistello] Caracciolo (c. 1578-1635) depicting David holding the head of Goliath and a recently restored painting by Dosso Dossi [Giovanni di Luteri] (c. 1486 – 1542), who was a court painter in the Renaissance Court of Ferrara. Melissa or The Sorceress Circe dates from around 1522.  Sculptural highlights include Capra Amaltea or The Amalthea Goat by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) and Il Sonno or The Sleep by Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654).

    Giovanni Battista [Battistello] Caracciolo (c. 1578-1635) – David holding the head of Goliath

    Dosso Dossi [Giovanni di Luteri] (c. 1486 – 1542) – Melissa or The Sorceress Circe

    Capra Amaltea or The Amalthea Goat by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680)

    Il Sonno or The Sleep by Alessandro Algardi (1598-1654).


    February 21st, 2017

    Two Addorsed Lions by André Beauneveu

    A re-discovered carved marble group of Two Addorsed Lions by André Beauneveu (circa 1335–1402) dating from 1364–66 will lead Christie’s Exceptional Sale in London next July. Originally executed to form part of the tomb of King Charles V of France at the Abbey of St. Denis, the addorsed or placed back to back lions were brought from France in 1802 by the English aristocrat Sir Thomas Neave (1761–1848), and have remained in the same collection ever since. Known to scholars only from an engraving of the 18th century, the emergence of these lions represents a remarkable re-discovery.

    Donald Johnston, Christie’s UK, International Head of Sculpture: ‘It is extraordinarily rare to offer any medieval work of art with such a fully documented provenance. The fact that this marble group was executed by one of the most important sculptors of the period and is part of an important royal commission makes it even more remarkable. The discovery of these lions in a private English collection is wonderful news for collectors and scholars who previously thought they had been lost during the French Revolution.’


    February 21st, 2017

    Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face) – Jean-Michel Basquiat

    One of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s finest full-length male figures from his series of grand-scale paintings that took the art world by storm in the early 1980’s – Untitled (One Eyed Man or Xerox Face – will lead Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening auction in London on March 8.  It was last sold at auction for $23,100 in 1987 one year before the artists death.  It is now estimated at £14-§8 million.

    Basquiat’s heroic male figures, always depicted with both arms raised aloft, and often shown with a studded halo or roughly pronged crown, formed the centrepiece of almost all the artist’s most important early works. Often based on the black athletes whose prowess allowed them to transcend racial boundaries in mid-20th century America, these figures were of huge personal importance to the artist. As a young black man raised in a middle-class family in Brooklyn, he readily felt the effects of racial segregation in art history: “I realised that I didn’t see many paintings with black people in them”.

    Alex Branczik, Head of Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Europe said:  “The hero figures in Basquiat’s paintings refer to the stars of sporting, musical and artistic worlds who, thanks to their extraordinary talents, transcended their social status to become the nation’s icons. Painted with their arms held aloft and wearing a crown of thorns they also reflect Basquiat’s own dramatic ascent from street artist to gallery sensation, and to his present status as one of the most valuable and talked about artists in the world.”


    February 20th, 2017
    A Donegal landscape by Paul Henry, two le Broquy tapestries, a horse painting by Yeats, and a selection of works by Tony O’Malley with estimates from 1,000 to 15,000 combine to make a varied and interesting selection at Whyte’s Irish and International art auction at the RDS on February 27.
    The sale features work by many important artists of the last two centuries including William Sadler, Walter Osborne, Sir John Lavery, James Humbert Craig, Sean Keating, Gerard Dillon, Colin Middleton, William Scott, Alexander Williams, Daniel MacLise and Percy French.
    Paul Henry’s Lough Altan, Co. Donegal (60,000-80,000) has been in the family of the original purchaser since the 1930’s. Fresh Horses by Yeats dates to c1914 and once belonged to the actor Peter O’Toole. It is estimated at 40,000-60,000. Another famous previous owner was the late Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey, gifted a painting of Clifden by Eva Henrietta Hamilton  a cousin of his wife Joan Hamilton.  It is estimated at 3,000-5,000.
    The auction continues the disposal of the private art collection of George and Maura McClelland which includes a run of O’Malley paintings (lots 78 to 93).  The works by Louis le Brocquy include  a little known life study, Self (30,000-50,000), a Study for Riverrun: Procession (40,000-60,000) and two Aubusson tapestries Cherub 1952 (20,000-30,000) and Tain: Cuchulainn in Spasm 1969 (15,000-18,000) as well as a range of lithographs. Viewing at the RDS gets underway on February 25.  The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection:

    Lough Altan, Co. Donegal by Paul Henry (1876-1958) (60,000-80,000)

    A Woman Swooning: Trio of Soldiers Beyond by Daniel Maclise (1806-1870) (4,000-6,000)

    Fresh Horses by Jack B Yeats (1871-1957) (40,000-60,000)

    Early Morning, Bahamas 1979 by Tony O’Malley (1913-2003) (12,000-15,000)


    February 20th, 2017

    The estate of author Jackie Collins is to be auctioned by Bonhams in Los Angeles on May 16 and 17.  More than 1,000 lots will come under the hammer in a sale entitled Jackie Collins: A Life in Chapters.  Bonhams  Vice-President Leslie Wright commented:  “Jackie Collins lived the lifestyle about which she wrote, and the sale  will provide an exclusive insight into the real woman behind her unforgettable characters. Her books were loved by millions of readers world-wide. This is their chance to own a piece of the magic.”

    The sale is expected to realise around $3 million and will include jewellery, fine art and sculpture.  Among the lots are a collection of bronzes including Nude with Shawl by Josef Lorenzl ($18,000-25,000); works by the English painter, Beryl Cook, including Tango in Bar Sur ($20,000-30,000) and Train Station Café ($ 20,000-30,000);  Jackie’s bespoke special edition 2002 Jaguar XKR Sportscar finished in metallic gold ($ 15,000-20,000) and a selection of entertainment and career-related memorabilia taking in first editions of Jackie’s works and a selection of designer clothes.  Among the jewellery is a 6.04-carat diamond and platinum ring ($100,000-150,000), an Art Deco diamond, emerald, stone and platinum necklace at ($40,000-50,000),  signed pieces by Cartier and Nardi  and watches by Patek Philippe, Harry Winston, Chanel and Chopard. Here is a small selection:

    The fireplace at her Beverly Hills living room.

    A diamond solitaire ring ($100,000-150,000).

    Beryl Cook artwork.

    A portrait of Jackie Collins in the style of Tamara de Lempicka ($3,000-5,000)


    February 18th, 2017
    Adams say that their first At Home auction of 2017 in Dublin on February 26 will provide decorators and home makers with remarkable opportunities for layering – the currently fashionable interior trend with lots of mixing of textures, colours and styles.  More than 350 lots of silverware, jewellery, antique furniture, porcelain, collectibles and paintings at very reasonable estimates are to be sold.
    Silver rarities include a pair of Limerick mustard spoons (150) by Thomas Burke and a 17th century trefid tablespoon by Benjamin Watts of London (400).
    There are two still life studies by artist Cecil Kennedy from the estate of a Co. Cork collector.  Bought through the London gallery of McConnell Mason they are estimated respectively at 6,000 and 5,000.  An early Victorian Mason’s 85 piece dinner service and a Dun Emer Guild wool carpet with Celtic pattern are each estimated at 2,000. A vintage Louis Vuitton steamer trunk and a tan leather suitcase are estimated at 3,000 and 300.  Antique furniture includes a 19th century hunt table (5,000) and a George IV console table in the manner of Del Vecchio of Dublin (4,000).  The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection:


    A 19TH CENTURY CUT GLASS JUG (200-500)


    An Irish mahogany and marble top side table (8,000-12,000)

    A George III black and gilt Japanned clock c1760 inscribed John Dene Dublin (2,000-3,000)


    February 17th, 2017

    The inaugural Erotic: Passion & Desire sale at Sotheby’s in London – featuring over 100 lots of fine art, photography, sculpture and design – brought a total of £5,297,000 over a  combined pre-sale estimate of £3.1-4.6 million.  The top lots were two sculptural masterpieces which established auction records.  In an intense bidding battle, collectors clamoured to acquire Jacques Loysel’s La Grande Nevrose,  considered to be the sculptor’s definitive masterwork. This sensual marble, retained by Loysel in his Paris atelier until his death in 1925 and not seen on the market since, made £1,868,750. The estimate was £120,000-180,000.

    A rare surviving work by Sarah Bernhardt – a rediscovered marble relief of Ophelia  – sparked frenzied bidding, driving the final sale price to £308,750, six times its pre-sale low estimate (£50,000-70,000). The highest price for a contemporary sculpture in the sale was achieved when Antony Gormley’s  Pole II which made £320,750. A Roman marble group of two lovers c1st-2nd centuries AD  made £236,750. Further highlights included works on paper by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, who forged a new path in fearless depictions of the naked figure. Schiele’s Akt (Nude) made £224,750 and Klimt’s pencil drawing Half-nude reclining to the right made £175,000.

    Sarah Bernhardt – Ophelia

    Jacques Loysel – La Grande Névrose


    February 16th, 2017

    Paul Henry RHA (1876-1958) PORTRAIT OF AN ELDERLY LADY, c.1904-1905

    This finely drawn Paul Henry charcoal portrait of an elderly lady recalls a period when the artist worked as an illustrator for a newspaper.  It is lot 28 at Whyte’s upcoming sale of Irish and International Art at the RDS, Dublin on February 27.  According to catalogue notes by Dr. S.B. Kennedy it was almost certainly for the weekly journal To-day, founded in 1893 by Jerome K. Jerome. Unsurprisingly the journal had a literary bias and scope for illustration.  Henry worked on a “types” series in 1904-05.  All of these drawings showed his debt to Whistler, his former teacher in Paris, whose funeral he had attended in 1903.

    The “types” series  began with The Unfortunate, a drawing of an elderly pauper reading a paper by the Thames Embankment at dusk.  It was followed by The Grandmother, The Ballad Singer, The Crank and others. The work is estimated at 5,000-7,000.

    Whyte’s sale of 187 lots features work from many major artists of the last two centuries. The catalogue is on line.  Viewing at the RDS gets underway on February 25.


    February 14th, 2017

    The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Alfonso Garcia Robles in 1982 for his pioneering work in nuclear disarmament comes up at Christie’s in New York on April 28.  It will be included in The Exceptional Sale and is estimated at $400,000-600,oo0. Garcia Robles was the driving force behind the Treaty of Tlatelolco, opened for signing 50 years ago on February 14, 1967, and significant for keeping Latin America and the Caribbean nuclear-free to this day. The Nobel Peace Prize medal is 18 carat gold and 2.5 inches diameter.

    “We are thrilled and honored to be offering this tangible symbol of mankind’s struggle for peace,” remarks Becky MacGuire, specialist of The Exceptional Sale. “In 1962 Alfonso Garcia Robles watched the Cuban missile crisis unfold a mere 1,500 miles off Mexico, and he resolved to put an end to the horrific nuclear threat for his beloved country and the entire region. His unwavering dedication to the cause of disarmament resulted in the ground-breaking Treaty that did end that threat. The Nobel Peace Prize honoring Garcia Robles reminds us of the very best in humanity, just as great, transformative works of art do.”