Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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  • Archive for December, 2012


    Monday, December 31st, 2012

    le Brocquy’s Procession with Lilies made 320,000 at James Adam in September. (Click on image to enlarge).

    AT James Adam, Ireland’s biggest art auctioneers, the top five artworks of 2012 were by five different artists. This is a welcome change from the days when the Irish art market was dominated by just two artists, Jack B. Yeats and Paul Henry. Adams say that this illustrates the range and diversity of high quality art consigned in 2012.
    The top five Irish artists sold at Adams were, in order: Louis le Brocquy (Procession with Lilies, 320,000); William John Leech, Interior of a Cafe, 200,000); Jack B. Yeats, Good Evening Men, 180,000); Paul Henry, The Bog at Evening 160,000) and Richard Moynan, The Travelling Show, 140,000.
    James O’Halloran of Adams said that Henry and Yeats had fared consistently well in all sales, demonstrating the demand for blue chip artists in todays market. He remarked that yet again this year virtually everything offered with an estimate even 20 per cent too high tended the struggle. “It is vital to get the estimate right”. The sold rate at Adams remained solid throughout 2012 averaging 80%. This is virtually the same as the last three years. “This is a very comforting statistic for us as it indicates a strong level of demand and purchaser participation in our auctions. The total hammer receipts for Irish Art Sales in 2012 is €4.36m. 2011’s figures were skewed massively upwards by the remarkable €1m paid for Yeats’ A Fair Day, Mayo so when that exceptional figure is stripped out our revenues in this sector are just ahead of the last two years’ figures” he said.
    For 2013 Adams remain optimistic about the middle to high end of the Irish art market, but expect that the lower end will continue to struggle.


    Sunday, December 30th, 2012

    Botticelli’s Madonna and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist at Christie’s. (Click on image to enlarge).  UPDATE: IT MADE $10.4 MILLION, A WORLD RECORD FOR THE ARTIST

    Sandro Botticelli’s Madonna and Child with the Young Saint John the Baptist is a highlight at Christie’s Renaissance auction in New York on January 30 next. Widely referred to as the Rockefeller Madonna it was acquired by John D. Rockefeller from Lord Duveen in the early 1930’s. It remained with the Rockefellers for about 50 years and has latterly been in a private New York collection.
    Intended for private devotional use, the work depicts the Virgin and Child with the young Saint John the Baptist. This was a popular subject in Florence where he was the patron saint of the city. The tender sentiment between mother and child is combined with an allusion to the Resurrection theme, represented by the tomb-like structure, illustrated in a classical relief, just behind the central figures. The diaphanous veil which covers Madonna’s head and shoulders signifies her purity, as this was the traditional head covering of unmarried Florentine women. The landscape is rendered as a bird’s-eye view from the loggia bathed in a gentle sunset light.
    The painting has been featured in museum exhibitions including the 2004 exhibition at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence entitled Botticelli and Filippino, Passion and Grace in Fifteenth-Century Florentine Painting. It is estimated at $5 – 7 million.




    Friday, December 28th, 2012

    Newly discovered panel by Hans Memling estimated at $1 – 1.5 million. (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $4,114,500.

    A recently discovered unrecorded Hans Memling devotional panel will feature at Sotheby’s sale of Important Old Master Paintings and Sculpture in New York on January 31. The sale will coincide with Old Masters Week. The panel, entitled Christ Blessing, is estimated at $1 – 1.5 million.

    It has been in the same New England collection for over 150 years. It was completely unknown to scholars and collectors alike before it was discovered earlier this year.
    After extensive research Sotheby’s and leading Memling experts have confirmed the panel to be by the Flemish master. Memling was one of the most influential and important artists working in Flanders in the late 15th century and was a leading painter of the Northern Renaissance. The panel, thought to have been executed between 1480 and 1485, will be on view in New York from January 25.

    UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $4,114,500.


    Friday, December 28th, 2012

    THERE will be an on the premises auction of over 400 lots at 64 Moyne Road, Dublin 6 on Sunday December 30.  Matthews of Oldcastle will offer a variety of household contents. Here is a small selection. The catalogue is on-line:

    Hugh Douglas Hamilton: Three pastel portraits of an Anglo Irish Family. (4,000-7000).

    An Empire marquetry fall front desk (1,200-1,800).

    An antique gilded overmantle (700-1,200).

    A Regency fold over games table on lions paw feet (1,200-1,800).

    A pair of brass bound turf buckets with hoop handles, 17 inches high (1,000-1,500).


    Monday, December 24th, 2012

    Here are some images from the exhibition Imagining the Divine, The Holy Family in Art. It continues at the National Gallery of Ireland  in Dublin until April 1.  The exhibition shows how artists through the ages have imagined and depicted the early life of Christ. It features 13 paintings and drawings with works by Lorenzo di Credi, Guercino and Murillo, among others.

    A very happy Christmas to all readers of 

    The Le Nain Brothers (fl. 17th century) The Adoration of the Shepherds, 1644 Photo © National Gallery of Ireland. (Click on image to enlarge).

    Jan de Beer (c.1475-1528) The Flight into Egypt, c.1520’s Photo © National Gallery of Ireland. (Click on image to enlarge).

    Fra Bartolommeo (1472-1517) The Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist Photo © National Gallery of Ireland. (Click on image to enlarge).


    Friday, December 21st, 2012

    Munch’s The Scream made $119.9, the highest ever price for a work of art at auction.

    THE high end of the international art market powered ahead in 2012. Impressionist, modern, postwar and contemporary art sales in London and New York brought in $3.8 billion compared with $3 billion in 2011. Postwar and contemporary art sales were extraordinary, and accounted for $2.3 billion worth of sales.

    Louis le Brocquy’s Procession of Lilies sold for 320,000.

    Sotheby’s, which has had a good 2012, set the record for the highest ever price for a work of art at auction when Munch’s The Scream sold for $119.9 million in May. Sotheby’s achieved the highest ever price for a drawing with Raphael’s Head of a Young Apostle which sold for £29.7 million in London in December and a new record price for a work by a living artist with Gerhard Richter’s Abstrakts Bild (809-4) which sold for £21.3 million. The second most expensive artwork sold in 2012 was Mark Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow” which made $86.9 million at Christie’s in New York in May.
    Recession has been a feature of the market for Irish art. The most expensive Irish work sold in Ireland was Louis le Brocquy’s Procession of Lilies which made 320,000 at James Adam in September. In England a Shakespearean themed work by Cork born Daniel Maclise (1806-1870) – The Wrestling Scene from “As You Like It” – made £337,250 at Christie’s last week. (See post on for November 28, 2012).


    Friday, December 21st, 2012

    A £5 and £1 Ploughman’s Note at Cork auction. The £5 note is estimated at 600-800. (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: THE £5 NOTE MADE 500 AND THE £1 NOTE MADE 340

    Irish £1 and £5 Ploughman’s Notes are among the collectibles on offer at the antiques, general and collectors auction at Cork Auction Rooms on Sunday, December 30 at noon. The notes were issued as a transitional measure for Bank of Ireland, Hibernian Bank Limited, Munster & Leinster Bank Limited, National Bank Limited, Northern Bank Limited, Provincial Bank of Ireland Limited, Royal Bank of Ireland Limited and Ulster Bank Limited in 1929. Under arrangement with the Currency Commission the banks withdrew the previous notes they issued and refrained from issuing more.
    Each note contained the common design of a man ploughing in a field with two horses on the front and they are often referred to as the “Ploughman Notes” because of this, the main differences were the name of the bank and its authorising signature. The notes denominations, and the back designs were; £1 (Custom House, Dublin), £5 (St. Patrick’s Bridge, Cork), £10 (Currency Commission Building, Foster Place, Dublin), £20 (Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary), £50 (Croagh Patrick, County Mayo) and £100 (Killiney Bay, County Dublin). The consolidated notes were issued only by the Currency Commission. The last notes were printed in 1941 and they were officially withdrawn on December 31, 1953.
    The auction will feature a starting cannon and cannon ball, a silver centrepiece, a collection of Waterford glas and militaria.  The sale goes on view on Saturday, December 29.


    Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

    Exhibitions by Sidney Nolan at the new galleries at the Irish Museum of Modern Art and by Alice Maher at the exhibition spaces at the National Concert Hall site in Earlsfort Terrace continue in Dublin. The main building at IMMA will not eopen until autumn 2013. Works to upgrade fire and safety systems are continuing and additional works, including the installation of an art lift, are planned.
    The Ned Kelly Series by Sidney Nolan continues until January 27 and the mid career retrospective by Alice Maher entitled Becoming runs at Earlsfort Terrace until February 17. IMMA says that visitors are becoming accustomed to the dual location, and both sites receive up to 200 visitors each day.
    IMMA’s National Programme continues at the newly-opened Luan Gallery in Athlone, Co Westmeath, with an inaugural exhibition drawn from the Museum’s collection until February 24.

    Sidney Nolan, Ned Kelly, 1946, National Gallery of Australia, Gift of Sunday Reed 1977.

    Alice Maher – Cassandra’s Necklace, 2012, two screen digital film, sound Trevor Knight, camera Vivienne Dick, editor Connie Farrell. Photo: Vivienne Dick


    Monday, December 17th, 2012

    JOE TILSON (B. 1928) Gagarin, Star, Triangle sold for £169,250. (Click on image to enlarge).

    THERE was a new world record for the British Pop artist Joe Tilson at Christie’s sale of Modern British Art in London.  His Gagarin, Star, Triangle made  £169,250 over a top estimate of  £120,000.  It is signed and dated 1968 on the reverse of each wooden relief. Born in London in 1928 Joe Tilson  was the subject of a retrospective at the Royal Academy in 2002. His work is in the collections of the Tate Gallery in London, MoMA in New York and the Stedelijk in Amsterdam.

    The Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who died in 1968, was the first human to journey into outer space when he orbited the earth in 1961.


    Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

    Justin de Villeneuve Portrait of Marsha Hunt. (Click on image to enlarge).

    Letter from Jagger in Australia.

    A collection of 10 articulate love letters written by Mick Jagger to the beautiful black American singer and inspiration for Brown Sugar Marsha Hunt made £187,250 at Sotheby’s in London today. They had been estimated at up to £100,000 and were purchased by a private collector bidding by telephone.

    Mick Jagger’s signature.

    They were written in the summer of 1969 while Jagger was in Australia filming Ned Kelly and their relationship was a closely-guarded secret. Hunt was the face of the London musical Hair. After the sale Marsha Hunt commented: “The passage of time has given these letters a place in our cultural history. 1969 saw the ebbing of a crucial, revolutionary era, highly influenced by such artists as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, James Brown and Bob Dylan. Their inner thoughts should not be the property of only their families, but the public at large, to reveal who these influential artists were – not as commercial images, but their private selves.”