Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Thursday, July 12th, 2018

    A  mid 19th century nickel cased eight day chronometer timepiece by Dent of Cockspur St., London was the top lot at Fonsie Mealy’s two day auction in Castlecomer this week.  It made a hammer price of 25,000 in a sale of 900 lots that brought in more than 420,000.  The auction was over 80% sold.  An ethnographic possibly Native American lot modelled as a grotesque figure spread on torso, with hollowed and shape box on back, highlighted with painted faces made 22,000 at hammer.

    A three stone diamond ring sold for 20,000, a set of 27 Malton views of Dublin made 11,000, a George III freedom box made 7,000 and a 1963 Morris Minor saloon made 6,100. An 18th century Irish Penal chalice made 4,000.

    Ethnographic possibly Native American piece made 22,000 at hammer.

    This chronometer made 25,000 at hammer.


    Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

    A new auction record was set for any book illustration at Sotheby’s in London today when the original map of Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood by E.H. Shepard sold for £430,000. Possibly the most famous map in children’s literature, this charming sketch from 1926 was unseen for nearly half a century ahead of the sale. It was offered with an estimate of £100,000-150,000.

    Featuring on the opening end-papers of the original book the sketch introduces readers to the delightful imagination of Christopher Robin and his woodland friends. Exactly 40 years later the map played a starring role in the landmark Disney film – Winnie-the-Pooh and the Honey Tree – where it was brought to life as an animation in the film’s opening sequence. The previous record for any book illustration was £314,500, set at Sotheby’s in December 2014 for the original illustration for Poohsticks. 


    Sunday, July 8th, 2018
    Antique silver,  Oriental and European porcelain, taxidermy, a 19th century pony and trap and a 1963 Morris Minor, garden furniture, old military uniforms, art including a private Irish collection of engravings and drawings by a range of artists including Durer, Van Dyck and Tiepolo and Lady Kildare’s writing desk from Carton are all included on day one of Fonsie Mealy’s two day summer auction in Castlecomer on July 10 and 11.
    The sale on day two features a pair of oak armchairs to a design by Pugin, a stained glass window depicting St. Patrick, 18th century portraits, an Edwardian dolls house in the Tudor style and a Victorian rocking horse, and an interesting selection of art and antique furniture.  A total of 900 lots will come under the hammer, 500 on Tuesday.  The sale comprises lots from a number of houses including Morristown Lattin, Naas, Albert House, Co. Sligo, and Irish American collection and Spire Hall, Portarlington, home of the Odlum family.
    The Tickell Cup, a massive two handled trophy cup made in London in 1899 on an Irish silver stand with three engraved races from Dublin in the same year is estimated at 4,000-6,000.  Lot 281 is a staged specimen of a brown bear cub holding a carved pillar, lot 430 is a cast iron model of a Phoenix from the Royal Phoenix Iron Works, Parkgate St., Dublin (1,500-2,000) and lots 676, the dolls house is estimated at 150-250.
    There is an Irish Penal chalice and a George III freedom box.  A three stone diamond ring with an intense yellow centre stone (20,000-30,000) and three Victorian diamond studded star brooch pendants (5,000-7,000) will are jewellery feature lots and Irish furniture is well represented.  There is a 19th century High Sheriff of Ireland uniform from the Mansfield family of Morristown Lattin (400-600) and uniform jackets including the Kildare Militia. A Kingsbury Motor Blue Bird toy model car is estimated at 180-220.

    Sir Malcolm Campbell broke the land and water speed record using blue birds in the 1920’s and ’30’s. His son Donald also broke land and water speed records and died in 1967 during a speed attempt on Coniston Water.  The catalogue is online.

    Lady Kildare’s writing desk from Carton  UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,400

    A stuffed bear cub  UPDATE: THIS MADE 580

    A Phoenix  UPDATE: THIS MADE 5,200 AT HAMMER

    The Tickell Cup  UPDATE: THIS MADE 5,600 AT HAMMER


    Friday, July 6th, 2018

    The continuing international appeal of collecting was demonstrated at Christie’s Old Masters evening sale; The Exceptional Sale 2018 and Thomas Chippendale 300 Years  in London on July 5.  With registered bidders from 33 countries across five continents the sales realised a total of £45,205,750, bringing the running total for Classic Week sales so far to £51,667,375.  The auctions followed global tours of highlights to New York, Hong Kong, Amsterdam and pre-sale public exhibitions in London. Classic Week sales at Christie’s continue until July 12.

    The top lot of the Old Masters sale was Ludovico Carracci’s Portrait of Carlo Alberto Rati Opizzoni in armour which made £5 million.  A bronze group of Hercules Overcoming Achelous by Ferdinando Tacca c1640-50 was the top lot of The Exceptional Sale. It made £6.7 million.  A pair of George III giltwood torcheres c1773 was the the top lot at the Thomas Chippendale auction. These sold for £488,750.

    Ludovico Carracci (Bologna 1555-1619)
    Portrait of Carlo Alberto Rati Opizzoni in armour

    George III Giltwood Torcheres



    Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

    A white marble portrait bust of George Washington and a signed photograph of Francis Bacon are among the wide range of lots at Fonsie Mealy’s auction in Castlecomer on July 10 and 11.  The portrait bust from the studio of Antoine Houdon (1741-1828) is estimated at 3,000-4,000.  A portrait of Washington after Gilbert Stuart is estimated at 1,000-1,500.

    Bacon is photographed looking vexed and animated outside the French pub in Soho by Daniel Farson.  The image is signed by both Bacon and Farson and estimated at 800-1,200.  The catalogue is online and viewing for this 900 lot sale gets underway on July 8.

    White marble portrait bust of George Washington  UPDATE: THIS MADE 5,250

    A signed photograph of Francis Bacon  UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,050


    Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

    Nelson’s pocket watch.  UPDATE: THIS MADE £322,000

    A watch that belonged to Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson and is thought to have been carried during the Battle of Trafalgar will be one of the highlights of Sotheby’s Treasures sale on 4 July. It is estimated at £250,000 – 450,000.  On the morning of the Battle of Trafalgar, William Beatty – the Irish surgeon aboard Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory, observed how before the battle commenced, the Admiral called upon his lieutenants to synchronise their watches to the time on his own watch. It is therefore quite possible that the tumultuous events of that historic day unfolded to the time kept by this very watch.

    Fought on October21,  1805 off the southern coast of Spain, the Battle of Trafalgar was a decisive moment in the Napoleonic Wars (1796 – 1815). Commanded by Admiral Nelson the British fleet defeated the combined fleets of the Spanish and French navies, fighting off Napoleon Bonaparte’s advancements to invade Britain. In the midst of battle, Nelson was shot in the left shoulder, a shot that would prove fatal.

    The Chairman of Sotheby’s International Watch Division, Daryn Schnipper said: ‘The perfect timing of the British assault at the Battle of Trafalgar was key in the historic victory of the Royal Navy so to be able to offer for sale the watch that Nelson probably used to establish the timing for this decisive battle, is a real privilege.”

    One of the nineteen relics returned to Nelson’s mistress, Emma, Lady Hamilton, following his death, the watch was inherited by the Admiral’s brother, Willliam, 1st Earl Nelson and subsequently passed to his sole surviving child, Charlotte. Charlotte arranged for the watch to be mounted in its current form as a carriage clock, presumably so it could be better admired and treasured as her illustrious uncle’s most precious possession. It was excluded from the group of precious relics, including the Admiral’s orders and decorations offered for sale in 1895 and subsequently acquired by the British government.


    Saturday, June 23rd, 2018
    A George III dining table at Sheppards sale in Co. Wicklow on June 26, 27 and 28 is of particular interest because of recent events Stateside.  The 20 foot long table is estimated at 30,000-50,000.  The estimate on a similar table at a sale in New York last month was the same.  But the Regency four pedestal dining table from the Rockefeller Collection was knocked down for $468,500 dollars in a global sale where many lots exceeded all expectations. The $832 million realised from that auction was the highest total ever for a single collection and the most significant charitable auction in history.
    Sheppards sale at Coolattin House, Shillelagh, Co. Wicklow is now on view.  It is composed of lots from the collection of the late Kanturk based solicitor Gerard O’Keeffe and other clients. The sale will be held over six sessions next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10.30 am and 2 pm on each day.
    There is a series of 18th century Irish furniture pieces including two side tables with scallop carved aprons.   Among the works of art is a Portrait of lady in a red silk gown by John Michael Wright.  It is from Cloghan Castle, Co. Offaly and was purchased at a Sotheby’s sale of Old Master paintings in 1968.  There is an Irish landscape by William Ashford and work by Hugh Douglas Hamilton.

    The collection of Gerard O’Keeffe forms a major part of the sale and it includes a collection of ivory and a series of watches including a Piaget.  There is a selection of contemporary Irish art and sculpture, Irish and international literature, bookcases and garden lots in a wide ranging auction of nearly 2,000 lots.

    A George III four pillar dining table

    A George III Chippendale bookcase

    A portrait of a lady in a red silk


    Thursday, June 14th, 2018

    An Irish marble topped side table from the sale of the William Randolph Hearst collection in New York in 1939 is a feature lot at the At Home sale by James Adam in Dublin on June 17.  It is estimated at 8,000-10,000. A George IV silver vine leaf dessert service is estimated at 6,000-10,000 and a set of George III neoclassical candlesticks is estimated at 6,000-8,000.   There are 672 lots.  The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection:

    AN IRISH MARBLE TOPPED SERPENTINE SIDE TABLE, c.1830 once in the Hearst Collection (8,000-10,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 8,000 AT HAMMER

    A George IV dessert set, Sheffield, 1829 (6,000-10,000).  UPDATE: THESE MADE 16,500 AT HAMMER


    A SET OF FOUR GEORGE III NEO-CLASSICAL SILVER CANDLESTICKS, London 1785, mark of John Wakelin & William Taylor (6,000-8,000)  UPDATE: THESE MADE 7,000 AT HAMMER



    Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

    An Imperial 18th century ‘Yangcai’ Famille-Rose porcelain vase sold for 16.2 million at Sotheby’s in Paris today.  This was a new record for any Chinese porcelain sold in France. This lost treasure of Imperial China was found in an attic and brought in to Sotheby’s in a shoebox after having been discovered by chance in the attic of a French family home.

    The vase is of exceptional rarity: the only known example of its kind, it was produced by the Jingdezhen workshops for the magnificent courts of the Qianlong Emperor (1735-1796). Famille Rose porcelains of the period (or ‘yangcai’ porcelains, as they are known) are extremely rare on the market, with most examples currently housed in the National Palace Museum in Taipei and other museums around the world.

    These so-called yangcai porcelain commissions were the very epitome of the ware produced by the Jingdezhen imperial kilns. They were made as one-of-a-kind items, sometimes in pairs, but never in large quantities. This technique combined a new colour palette with Western-style compositions. Beyond their superior quality, yangcai enamels were intended to create the most opulent and luxurious effect possible.  Only one other similar vase, although with slightly different subject matter and decorative borders, now in the Guimet museum in Paris, is known.

    Left to the grandparents of the present owners by an uncle, the vase is listed among the contents of the latter’s Paris apartment after his death in 1947. It is recorded alongside several other Chinese and Japanese objects including other Chinese porcelains, two dragon robes, a yellow silk textile, and an unusual bronze mirror contained in a carved lacquer box.   While the exact provenance of the vase and the other Chinese and Japanese pieces before 1947 cannot be traced, the receipt of a Satsuma censer acquired as a wedding gift in the 1867 Universal Exhibition in Paris by an ancestor of the family suggests an active interest in Asian art at a very early date. Similarly, this vase may well have been acquired in Paris in the late 19th century when the arrival of Asian works of art initiated a fashion for Japanese and Chinese art


    Friday, June 8th, 2018

    Eileen Gray – a transat armchair with original calfskin upholstery, ebonised lacquered work and nickel plated brass.  UPDATE: THIS MADE $1,596,500, setting a world auction record for a ‘Transat’ chair.

    Eileen Gray’s (1879-1976) ‘Transat’ chair from 1927-30 is a highlight of Christie’s design sale in New York on June 20.  It is estimated at $1-1.5 million.  The chair was conceived in the context of the furnishing of the villa E1027, the house at Roquebrune in the South of France, that Gray designed with and for her associate Jean Badovici. The radical modern villa – built on a rocky slope overlooking the sea – inspired Gray to explore new materials and possibilities in its bespoke furniture and fittings. For this iconic piece, Gray references
    the classic deck-chair, a design of pure functionalism, as she plays on the marine theme, calling to mind the contemporary
    engagement with water sports, the outdoors, and the popularity of a new generation of ocean liners.

    The auction is comprised of two private American collections and includes pieces by some of the most iconic names of French design including Pierre Chareau, Jen Dunand, Jean Michel Frank, Francois Xavier Lalanne, Pierre Legrain and Emile Jacques Ruhlmann.


    Emile Jacques Ruhlmann – a ‘granet’desk c1930  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $150,000

    Jean Dunand vases offered in separate lots  UPDATE: THESE MADE VARIOUS PRICES FROM $43,850 TO $87,500