The value of Irish art which has changed hands in the current season of sales amounts to around 6 million euro. James Adam
brought in around 1.1 million on June 1, Whyte’s
and de Veres
brought in 700,000 and 400,000 respectively in May, the Irish artists at Christie’s
sale of British and Irish art on May 26 (including Sir John Lavery and William Scott) accounted for another 1.3 million euro and Sotheby’s
annual Irish sale at the end of March brought in 2.1 million euro. These bigger players achieved around 5.6 million.
To this total must be added the achievements of smaller auction houses like Morgan O’Driscoll
which hold dedicated art sales and tend to deal in names that are less stellar. In addition Irish art is a latter day mainstay of antique auctions around the country and features to a greater or lesser extent at most sales. All this increases the overall total. The six million euro figure is probably slightly conservative.
These not dissimilar West of Ireland landscapes by Paul Henry boosted results at Christie’s, Whytes and Adams where they sold for £79,250, 106,000 euro and 110,000 euro respectively.
Christie’s sold the single most expensive Irish artwork to change hands at auction thus far in 2011 when they achieved £657,250 for Sir John Lavery’s Played!! Sotheby’s achieved the highest total for any Irish sale over the past two years. Roderic O’Conor’s Landscape, Cassis was the top lot at Sotheby’s where it made £337,250.
This website will make two comments on these results. The first is that these totals are highly respectable given that Ireland continues to be in deep recession. The second is that the Irish art market urgently needs to find new ways of promoting in the salesrooms more contemporary Irish art. The best of Paul Henry, along with Yeats, Orpen, Lavery, O’Conor, Osborne , le Brocquy et all, is highly bankable, especially in recession. But these are not the only Irish artists who deserve an outlet in the salesrooms. There is no shortage in Ireland of available quality work by contemporary artists. Many more are waiting in the wings for the recognition that is properly their due. The focus of the Irish art market is too narrow. This problem needs to be addressed by everyone involved in the art market in an effective way if stagnation is to be avoided in the salesrooms.
See posts on antiquesandartireland.com for May 29, May 28, May 27, May 20, May 19 and March 29.