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    February 21st, 2019

    ‘Reward of Merit Royal Irish Constabulary’ (Constable Michael Lavelle No. 62279 1916)

    The Easter Rising is Co. Galway is recalled at a two day auction at Dix Noonan Webb in London on February 27-28.  Lot 176 is a 1916 ‘Easter Rising’ Constabulary Medal (Ireland) awarded to Constable M. Lavelle, Royal Irish Constabulary, for his gallantry in the defence of the Police Barracks at Gort, Co. Galway, on April 25, 1916. This was Easter Tuesday, the day after the Rebellion started in Dublin.  At 7.20 am on that day there was an attack on the police barracks at Gort which continued until 10:30 a.m. The barracks was fired upon, and the windows were smashed. The rebels numbered 100 at first, but the number increased as time went on. Stone barricades were built across the road at each end of the village.

    The barracks was defended and held by five policemen, who were first called upon to surrender by rebels who threatened to blow up the barracks. It was attacked with rifle fire, and bombs were exploded outside. The police were called on twice to surrender through the Rev. Tully, but refused, and held on for over three hours.
    The rebels then withdrew to Clarenbridge, where they were reinforced by others. An attack was made on Oranmore Barracks. The attack there commenced shortly after noon. The railway line and the telegraph poles were cut, and a large hole was made in the bridge. The barracks at Oranmore was defended by four policemen until relief came at 7:30 p.m. through the arrival of a party of police and military from Galway. Lavelle’s medal is estimated at £3,000-4,000.


    February 20th, 2019

    A pair of Qing Dynasty famille rose peach bowls has come up as an important late entry to Sheppards two day sale in Durrow on Feburary 26-27.  Lot 849 is described as:  Qing Dynasty, with deep rounded sides resting on a short foot, enamelled in vivid tones of rose-pink, shades of green, and yellow, decorated with flowers and peaches, the base inscribed in underglaze blue, with a six-character reign mark of Yongzheng within a double-circle, and probably of the period.  The lot is estimated at 8,000-12,000 and the bowls measure 14.2 cms in diameter.  At this stage this is the last lot of the auction and will end the morning session on February 27. The Paradigms and the Unexpected auction offers furniture, decorative art, sculpture, fine art, Oriental porcelain and furniture, rugs and collectibles over three sessions.  The catalogue is online.


    February 19th, 2019

    One of three oval diamonds over 50 carats to come to auction in living memory will highlight Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale of magnificent jewels and jadeite on April 2. The spectacular 88.22  carat oval diamond is perfect according to every critical criterion and is estimated at US$11.2-12.7 million.  It is D Colour, the highest grade for a white diamond, Flawless and of exceptional clarity, Type Ila with excellent cut, polish and symmetry.

    As with the Koh-i-noor diamond (also oval) and the Cullinan I, which are part of the British Crown Jewels, the stone belongs to the rare subgroup comprising less than 2% of all gem diamonds, known as Type IIa*. Diamonds in this group are the most chemically pure type of diamond and often have exceptional optical transparency.  The 242-carat rough stone which yielded the diamond was discovered in Botswana in the mine of Jwaneng, a mine owned in partnership by De Beers and the government of Botswana and known for producing roughs of the highest quality.

    David Bennett, Worldwide Chairman, International Jewellery Division, said: “For those who have had the chance to see the diamond, one adjective comes back: “breath-taking”. Barely any diamonds of this weight are known to possess the same exceptional qualities of purity and perfection as this remarkable stone which is so full of fire and blinding brilliance.”


    February 19th, 2019

    More than 500 lots of silver, art, jewellery, antique furniture, Persian rugs, Oriental ceramics and collectibles will come under the hammer at the James Adam At Home sale in Dublin on February 24.

    Estimates are reasonable in this Sunday sale with something to appeal to a wide range of collectors.  There are smaller pieces of furniture like occasional tables, dumb waiters, work tables, chairs, longcase clocks, a clock garniture, affordable jewellery and a selection of art ranging from the 17th century to contemporary pieces.  The sale offers wall sconces, Japanese ivories, mirrors, Oriental and English porcelain, silver and plate cutlery, warming plates and a pair of c1900 Indian silver pilgrim flasks.  The catalogue is online.

    Victorian inlaid walnut credenza.

    A collection of three brass reservoir lamps


    February 18th, 2019

    The Canova casts at the Crawford Gallery in Cork.

    Restored Canova casts have gone on display in a re-vamped setting against a blue ground at the Crawford Gallery in Cork. The casts were a gift from Pope Pius VII to the Prince Regent, later George IV, as thanks to Britain for returning masterpieces looted by Napoleon. The Prince gifted them to the people of Cork in 1819 and about a dozen of the original gift survive today.

    Among them is a cast of the Apollo Belvedere, busts of Jupiter and Socrates, the goddess Concordia and Laocoon and his sons.  The casts have long been on display but they were conserved over the past two years by Eoghan Daltun in a project funded by the Heritage Council.

    Crawford Art Gallery Director Mary McCarthy says the gallery is seeing an unprecedented period of growth with over 230,000 visitors last year. She said the casts are much loved in Cork and nationally and she is very confident that people will come back to see “the old friends”.  A 22 million capital investment programme is to begin at the gallery soon.


    February 17th, 2019

    L’Apocalypse by Albrecht Durer, considered to be the first “painter’s book”, comes up at Christie’s in Paris on February 20 as part of the Marc Litzler Collection.

    Durer breaks with the traditional medieval representations of the 15th century with a new a personal vision in this book published in 1498.  It was influenced by his trip to Italy to study the works of the Renaissance.  It features more dramatic subjects portrayed through wood engravings.  L’Apolalypse is estimated at 150,000-200,000.

    The Litzler is notable for the quality and rarity of its illustrated editions and art books, which comprise the majority of the sale. It features the groundbreaking Jazz series by Matisse made of 20 stencilled coloured plates made from the artists’ collages and cutouts. Jazz is estimated at 200,000-300,000.

    UPDATE:  L’APOCALYPSE sold for 346,000, Jazz for 298,000.  The auction brought in 4.4 million.


    February 17th, 2019
    George Michael’s art collection – which will come under the hammer at Christie’s in London on March 14 – is a snapshot of the YBA (Young British Art) Movement. It comprises work by artists like Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Michael Craig-Martin and Marc Quinn.
    Christie’s say the collection represents George Michael’s dedication to cutting edge creativity in every field and reflects his instinctive support of young emerging artistic talent. Proceeds will be used to continue George Michael’s philanthropic work.
    The flagship auction will take place alongside an online sale which will be open for bidding from March 8-15. Estimates range from £400 to £1.5 million.
    Key works will include Tracey Emin’s Drunk to the Bottom of my Soul (2002), Damien Hirst’s The Incomplete Truth, 2006, Bridget Riley’s Songbird, 1982 and Michael Craig-Martin’s Commissioned Portrait Untitled (George) 2007.
    The singer and songwriter, who died on Christmas Day in 2016, was one of the most influential and best selling artists of all time.  Through visits to galleries and artists’ studios he developed friendships with many of the YBA artists.  Wham! was the first major western act to perform in China with two historic concerts in 1985.  Christie’s global tour of this collection will include a stop in Shanghai, as well as New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. The collection will be on view at King St. in London from March 9-14.
    Jussi Pylkkanen, global president, Christie’s commented: : “The viewing of over 200 works of art from the private collection will provide a fascinating insight into the broader tastes of a man who was deeply admired all over the world”.
    George Michael’s trustees say that philanthropic work was hugely important for George during his lifetime and it was his wish that this would continue after his passing.

    Tracey Emin – Drunk to the bottom of my soul (£180,000-250,000). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2019.

    Michael Craig-Martin – Commissioned Portrait Untitled (George) (wall mounted LCD monitor/computer) (£40,000-60,000). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2019.

    Damien Hirst – The Incomplete Truth (£1-£1.5 million) Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2019.

    Bridget Riley – Songbird (£400,000-600,000). Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2019.


    February 15th, 2019

    Mark Rothko – Untitled, 1960

    Untitled 1960 by Mark Rothko will highlight Sotheby’s Contemporary evening art auction in New York next May.  Estimated at $35-50 million it is being sold to benefit SFMOMA’s acquisition fund.

    Untitled, 1960 is one of just 19 paintings completed by the artist in 1960.  That year marked a critical juncture in his career when he was at the apex of his artistic powers. It followed on from his defining commission of the Seagram Murals (1958-59) and his representation of the United States in the XXIX Venice Biennale in 1958.  This was organised by the Museum of Modern Art, New York, which would subsequently hold Rothko’s first and only major lifetime retrospective in 1961.

    Following a collection review, and working within the guidelines of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), proceeds from the sale of Untitled, 1960 will only be used to purchase works for the museum.  Neal Benezra, Helen and Charles Schwab Director of SFMOMA, said: “With a spirit of experimentation, diversity of thought, and openness to new ways of telling stories, we are rethinking our exhibitions, collections, and education programs to enhance accessibility and expand our commitment to a global perspective, while sustaining our dedication to Bay Area and California art. Untitled, 1960 is being sold in order to broadly diversify SFMOMA’s collection, enhance its contemporary holdings, and address art historical gaps in order to continue to push boundaries and embrace fresh ideas.”

    Untitled, 1960 will travel to London, Taipei and Hong Kong, before returning to New York for exhibition and auction this May.


    February 14th, 2019

    Paul Gauguin Le Jardin de Pissarro, Quai du Pothuis à Pontoise, 1881 (recto)
    Deux esquisses d’autoportrait (verso)

    An early landscape by Paul Gauguin, which has been in the same collection for nearly a century, will come up at Sotheby’s Impressionist and  Modern art sale in Paris on March 29.   Le Jardin de Pissarro, Quai du Pothuis à Pontoise, 1881, has rarely been exhibited: in 1964 in Pont-Aven and, more recently, at a hugely popular exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2016.

    The work is rare in more than one respect: Gauguin’s paintings from this period hardly ever appear on the market, and the two self-portraits by the artist on the back of the canvas make it truly unique.  According to the catalogue raisonné on Gauguin, these are the first known self-portraits by the artist. It appears certain that they were executed after the landscape. While they are painted on a blank background, both are of an exceptional quality, presaging some of Gauguin’s most famous self-portraits, made a few years later.

    Between 1879 and 1881, Gauguin frequently visited Pissarro, whom he called his “dear teacher” in a number of letters. He would often stay in Pontoise, where Pissarro lived. The latter launched Gauguin’s career as a painter and taught him all the technique he required. These were formative years for Gauguin’s art. As Christophe Duvivier, Director of the Pontoise museums, puts it: “With Pissarro, Gauguin learnt to see landscape and summarise it.”

    The friendship between the two men is reflected in a joint work made in 1880 and kept at the Musée d’Orsay: a portrait of Gauguin by Pissarro combined with a portrait of Pissarro by Gauguin. The house featured in this painting is where Pissarro lived in Pontoise between summer 1881 and November 1882.  The figure underneath the umbrella is likely to be Pisarro, who often painted thus.  The work is estimated at 600,000-900,000.


    February 13th, 2019

    Jack b. Yeats – A Passage is Required, 1953

    A 1953 oil by Jack B. Yeats will lead Whyte’s spring auction of Irish and International art in Dublin at 6 pm on March 4.  A Passage is Required is estimated at 100,000-150,000.  The sale offers collectors and exciting opportunity to acquire rare artworks.  Highlights consigned include an oil by Margaret Clarke, a piece of stained glass from the workshop of Harry Clarke and a 1950’s oil by Norah McGuinness.  There is work by James Humbert Craig, Camille Souter, Evie Hone, Sean Keating, Roderic O’Cnor, Gerard Dillon, Louis le Brocquy, Kenneth Webb and others.  The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection:

    ANNIE, 1956 NORAH MCGUINNESS HRHA (1901-1980)


    Louis le Brocquy – Study for A Family, 1951

    Studio of Harry Clarke – Stained glass door panel