Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    June 12th, 2017


    Paul Henry’s view of Ferriter’s cove in Co. Kerry. (£120,000-180,000)

    Paul Henry’s painting of Ferriter’s Cove on the Dingle Peninsula is a leading lot at Bonhams sale of British and Irish art in London on June 14. Though mostly associated with landscapes of Connemara and Mayo the artist who is arguably our most influential landscape painter of the 20th century was inspired by Kerry and the remoter regions along Ireland’s Atlantic seaboard.

    Long before the fantastic and unusual topography of the area attracted the attention of the Star Wars producers Paul Henry brought his artists eye to Ferriter’s Cove, situated a few miles east of  Ballyferriter, in 1933. “It is lovely” he wrote to James Healy in America, who acted as agent for him.  “Wherever one turns there is material for dozens of pictures”.
    He likened it to Cape Cod and felt that if he spent a lifetime there he would never exhaust all the possible subjects.  Paul Henry went back again the following autumn and the drawings and paintings he made there were completed later at his studio north of Dublin. The visit produced enough work for his spring show Recent Paintings of Kerry and Connemara at the Combridge Gallery in Dublin in May 1935.
    The painting, which was exhibited in Toronto in 1936 and has been in a corporate collection in the UK since 1938, is estimated at £120,000-180,000.


    June 9th, 2017

    Ballyedmond – This pair of sapphire and diamond cufflinks made £16,250 (with an estimate of £3,000-4,000)

    The online sale of gentleman’s accessories from the collection of Irish entrepreneur Lord Ballyedmond  was 100% sold, making it the second white glove online auction at Sotheby’s in 2017.  There were cufflinks, tie pins and watches by great names including Cartier, Van Clef & Arpels, Boucheron and Tiffany and Co.  The sale attracted global interest with US bidders placing most bids, followed by the UK, Italy and Russia.  No less than 75% of lots on offer went for prices above their high estimate.
    Over two days of sales in London in May the Ballyedmond Collection of over 500 objects, mostly from his restored townhouse in Belgravia, made £4.3 million over a top estimate of £3.1 million. Born in Kilcurry Co. Louth Edward Haughty, who became Lord Ballyedmond, made his fortune founding and steering the Norbrook Group, a pharmaceutical company based in Newry.



    Paul Cezanne – Baigneuses, La Montagne Sainte-Victoire au fond (It is estimated at £4-6 million) UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Paul Cezanne’s Baigneuses La Montagne Sainte-Victoire au fond is an exquisite small work that  units two key motifs, bathers and the Montagne Sainte Victoire. Measuring just five by eight inches it is the dover lot of Sotheby’s inaugural Actual Size sale in London on June 21.  It is estimated at £4-6 million. At the turn of the century Cezanne’s revolutionary works began the process of the fragmentation of reality in art and opened the door to modernism.  He used the classical subject of bathers as a compositional tool for a completely new and free aesthetic.  The use of translucent watercolour renders the human figure almost weightless and the nudes are fully embraced by nature.  Adding to the rarity the composition includes a view of Montagne Saine-Victoire.  In a small scale the artist captures the most important subjects and ideas that formed his artistic legacy. On June 21 to coincide with the flagship sales in London Sotheby’s will stage a “small” sale. This brings together a range of works from the 20th and 21st centuries. This first of a kind sale will include painting, sculpture and works on paper with one common characteristic – each will be no bigger than the size of the catalogue page on which it is illustrated.


    June 6th, 2017

    The collection of Raine, Countess Spencer (1929-2016) comes up at Christie’s in London in July. Only daughter of romantic novelist Dame Barbara Cartland and stepmother to Diana, Princess of Wales she enjoyed a position at the centre of London society for over 60 years. Lady Spencer had an appreciation of the fine and decorative arts; 18th century France was of special interest, and she assembled a collection of paintings by some of the greatest artists of that period, including Boucher, Fragonard and Vernet. She collected fine furniture on which she displayed ormolu clocks, objets d’art and Chinese works of art – including intricately carved jades; the Art Deco was also a period of particular inspiration. Highlights from Lady Spencer’s collection of French 18th century Old Master paintings will be offered at Christie’s Old Masters evening sale on July 6.  This will be followed by a sale featuring furniture, Old Master paintings, objets d’art and jades and a selection of couture, jewellery and accessories from her personal wardrobe on July 13. Here is a small selection with all images courtesy of Christie’s.

    Claude Joseph Vernet (Avignon 1714-1789 Paris)
    A Mediterranean sea-port with fishermen unloading cargo (£300,000-500,000)

    Jean-Honoré Fragonard (Grasse 1732-1806 Paris)
    The goddess Aurora triumphs over night, announcing Apollo in his chariot, while Morpheus sleeps – a bozzetto (£150,000-200,000)

    One of several ‘Lady Dior’ handbags, this one of black leather with stud work decoration (£1,000-1,500)



    June 5th, 2017

    London to St. Ives, a journey through British Art is the title of the sale of an important private collection at Sotheby’s on June 29.  The evening sale comprises 49 works and features British artists such as Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud, Graham Sutherland, Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon and Anthony Caro.

    During the middle of the 20th century, London – bomb-ravaged and starving but still the capital city of a global empire – had a serious competitor as the artistic capital in a small fishing village at the westernmost tip of the country. In both London and Cornwall, artists wrestled with the question posed by German philosopher Adorno – how could one write poetry after the horrors of Auschwitz? For London-based artists such as Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud and Reg Butler this resulted in an intense and forensic re-examination of the human figure and human relationships. In St Ives artists such as Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon and Terry Frost turned to abstraction. This is an auction of work by the British artists at the forefront of the avant-garde. It is estimated to bring in between £3-5 million.

    Peter Lanyon – Fly Away 1961 (£300,000-500,000)

    Patrick Heron – Tall Brown June 1959 (£400,000-600,000)

    Frank Auerbach – Jake Seated (£300,000-500,000)


    June 4th, 2017
    An auction of architectural salvage is always of interest to a wide variety of imaginative collectors.  Aidan Foley’s two day sale of the stock of Bailey Gibson Interiors and Salvage at Oranmore, Co. Galway on June 10 and 11 is likely to be no exception.  The 1,200 lots will be sold over two days.
    There are pitch pine beams and cast iron stanchions from Boland’s Mills in Dublin, vintage light fittings, garden furniture and urns and a selection which ranges from French doors to whiskey barrels.  Garden enthusiasts and doer uppers will be interested in cut kerb stones and old building stones, outdoor lighting, a fountain, statuary, reclaimed brick and granite cobbles.  Most lots will be sold without reserves.

    salvaged bricks

    Some salvage in the sale


    June 2nd, 2017

    Dante Gabriel Rosetti – Lady Lillith

    The only version of one of the most iconic works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti to remain in private hands comes up at Sotheby’s in London on July 13. A celebration of the beauty of the artist’s first mistress, Fanny Cornforth Lady Lilith comes to auction for the first time in thirty years. The work was painted during Rossetti’s most innovative period in the 1860’s, when he created the cult of the Pre-Raphaelite beauty, or ‘Stunner’ as he called them, whose physical qualities were embodied by Fanny Cornforth.  It is estimated at £400,000-600,000.

    Simon Toll, Sotheby’s Victorian Art Specialist, said: “Rossetti’s work is a great passion of mine and I have been lucky enough to bring to auction several important examples by him in recent years, breaking the world record for a watercolour, a drawing and an oil painting. ‘Lady Lilith’ has always been one of my favourites but I had never seen this particular picture ‘in the flesh’. It was a moment of genuine excitement when I first saw it being unwrapped from the packing case in which it had been sent from Japan, its home for the last thirty years. Not only is the work in wonderful condition, it’s also in Rossetti’s original frame and with the artist’s hand-written poem attached to the backing-board. To find a picture in such an untouched condition is exceptionally rare.”


    June 1st, 2017

    The bag used to bring back to earth the very first sample of lunar material ever collected comes up at Sotheby’s in New York on July 20 – the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. Traces of the moon dust and small rocks are still embedded in the fabric of the bag, which is labeled “Lunar Sample Return”.  Nearly all of the equipment from that historic mission is housed in the U.S. National Collections at the Smithsonian; however a recent court ruling has allowed this to be the only such artifact in private hands. It comes up at an inaugural Space Exploration sale and is estimated at $2-4 million.

    Cassandra Hatton, Vice President and Senior Specialist in charge of the sale commented: “This seemingly modest bag was part of mankind’s greatest journey, and played a crucial role in the single most important scientific task of the Apollo 11 mission – to bring back the very first sample of lunar material ever collected. To be able to see such an object in person is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is one thing to read about going to the moon; it is quite another to hold in one’s hands an object that was actually there, and that still carries traces of that faraway place.”


    May 31st, 2017


    An original manuscript from Finnegan’s Wake was the top lot at Fonsie Mealy’s rare books, literature, manuscripts and sporting collectibles sale in Dublin on May 30.  The opening of the Anna Livia Plurabelle section, 16 pages written in James Joyce’s hand, sold for a hammer price of 27,000 against an estimate of 7,500-10,000.  A 1915 All Ireland hurling final medal won by Laois made 11,000 at hammer over an estimate of 7,000-10,000. The Ned Ryan GAA medal collection made 6,500 but the Louth GAA medal collection awarded to Johnny Brennan with dates from 1905 to 1915 failed to find a buyer.

    An archive of five folders of texts and documents by Brian O’Nolan (Flann O’Brien) sold for 10,000 over a top estimate of 8,000 and the author’s secretaire bookcase, which featured on the front page of the catalogue, sold for 3,400. A rare first edition of At Swim Two Birds made 6,200 and a set of signed copies by Seamus Heaney made 5,600.

    A total of 75% of lots were sold on the hammer and the auction realised 380,000.

    (See post on for May 25, 2017)


    May 29th, 2017

    William Scott (1913-1989) – Blue Still Life

    William Scott’s Blue Still Life sold for a hammer price of 450,000 (560,000 including commission and VAT) at Whyte’s sale at the RDS in Dublin this evening.  It was bought by an English agent for an unknown client.  The underbidder, who was Irish, was in the room.

    This was the most valuable work by an artist who was proud to call himself Irish ever sold in this country.  Scott was born in Scotland to an Irish father and spent most of his childhood in Enniskillen where he was encouraged to paint by his art teacher Kathleen Bridle.  He is regarded, among with Henry Moore and Francis Bacon, as one of the foremost British artists of the 20th century.  He always carried his Irish passport.

    The sale brought in around 1.8 million and was the most valuable art sale at Whyte’s since 2007.

    (See posts on for May 23 and May 15, 2017)


    May 29th, 2017

    Michele Marieschi – La Punta della Dogana e san Giorgio Maggiore

    A rare eighteenth century painting by Italian artist Michele Marieschi will come up at Sotheby’s  flagship Old Master evening sale in London on July 5. La Punta della Dogana e san Giorgio Maggiore, comes to the market following a successful restitution settlement, led by Art Recovery International, between the current possessors and the heirs of the previous owners – the Graf family who last saw the painting in 1938, before they fled Nazi occupied Austria. Following over 15 years of negotiations, the work will be offered this summer with an estimate of £500,000 – 700,000.

    Painted in 1739 – 40, La Punta della Dogana e san Giorgio Maggiore is a rare example of a unique work by Marieschi, who often created multiple paintings from the same viewpoint. Depicting the Dogana with the Church of San Giorgio across the Bacino in the distance, and animated by a host of colourful figures and gondolas in the foreground, this painting is notable for its broad panorama and the depth of its composition, and is one of Marieschi’s most successful works.