Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    January 23rd, 2021

    IT is not everyday that a painting by Botticelli comes to auction, and it is not everyday that a sale of Old Master drawings features a strong Cork connection and a tenuous but definite link to the monster Frankenstein. Next January 28 in New York will be just such a day. Led by Botticelli, Rembrandt and Bernini  the highest value Masters Week in Sotheby’s history runs in New York until January 30. The seven Sotheby’s auctions of paintings, drawings and sculpture with works spanning four centuries is headed by Botticelli’s Young Man Holding a Roundel. Sotheby’s are confident that this work will establish art market history as one of the most significant portraits of any period ever at auction. They have not published an estimate but rank it alongside Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II (sold in 2006 for $87.9 million) and  Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet (sold in 1990 for $82.5 million). As only about 12 portraits by the early Renaissance Florentine master are known – nearly all of them in major museum collections – it seems likely that this rare and characterful portrait could break all existing records. It comes up at the marquee sale of Master Paintings and Sculpture alongside 45 other works with estimates of from $70,000 to $30 million, the top estimate for Rembrandt’s Abraham and the Angels.

    The Cork connection turns up at Christie’s online sale of Old Master and British drawings including property from the Cornelia Bessie Estate which runs until January 28. Lot 81 is a portrait by the Irish artist Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1739-1808) of Robert King, 2nd Earl of Kingston and Caroline (nee Fitzgerald), Countess of Kingston.  He was an MP for County Cork. They lived at Mitchelstown Castle where they hired the author and founding feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) as governess to their daughters. (It is a pity that the governess did not have the opportunity to educate and civilise their son George who grew up to be the notoriously brutal commander of the North Cork Militia during the 1798 Rebellion).  The daughter she influenced most was Margaret King who, as Lady Mount Cashell, undertook a grand tour and published her diaries. The unconventional Wollstonecraft died 11 days after giving birth to her second daughter Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein and wife of the poet. The Kingston portraits are estimated at $12,000-$18,000

    (See post on for January 15, 2021)

    Sandro Botticelli – Portrait of a young man holding a roundel 


    January 22nd, 2021

    In New York the Winter Show gets underway online for the first time ever today.  With 60 leading international exhibitors the fair runs until January 31. This year it is available to everyone from the comfort  of their own home.  If you visit the online stand of London antique furniture specialists Ronald Phillips you will be met at the entrance by a pair of Irish George III oval mirror girandoles c1780. They retain the original silvered brass candle arms and one original plate (the other is an 18th century replacement).  Ronald Phillips say that it is extremely rare to find single candle arms attached to the frame, which in this example is of an unusually small sale.

    Irish George III oval mirror girandoles 


    January 22nd, 2021

    There was a world record for a rare Oliver Cromwell 50 shilling coin, dating from 1656 at Dix Noonan Webb in London on January 21. The gold coin sold for £471,200 over a top estimate of £150,000. There were bidders on the phone and the internet from the Far East, North America and the UK. The piece, struck by Thomas Simon, Cromwell’s chief engraver, went to an American buyer.

    Another highlight was a rare and fine silver Commonwealth Shilling by Irishman David Ramage. Once in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire, the shilling is decorated with a small shield of England and sold for £74,400 against an estimate of £15,000-20,000. It went to a UK Collector. David Ramage was Simon’s competitor and fell out of favour with Cromwell but had the monopoly on the production of 17th trade tokens.

    The Cromwell 50 shilling gold coin, dating from 1656, by Thomas Simon,


    January 22nd, 2021

    A death mask of Patrick Kavanagh by the Cork sculptor Seamus Murphy comes up at Hegarty’s online auction in Bandon on January 31. Etched with the name of the poet and dated 1967 it is estimated at €6,000-9,000. The lot is accompanied by with a collection of personal correspondence between the the artists wife Maighread and well known collector Barbara Vance who was married to Douglas Vance, general manager of The Metropole Hotel in Cork from 1944 – 1985. Two other plaster examples of this mask have are recorded, one at The Writer’s Museum, Dublin, the second at The Patrick Kavanagh Centre, Monaghan.



    January 21st, 2021

    Artists who are much admired and collected in Ireland feature at Dolan’s first timed online auction which runs until January 25. A 1963 painting by Cecil Maguire of Purteen Harbour, Achill, offers dramatic west Coast views and is estimated at €6,000-€8,000.  There is a similar estimate on Girls on a Beach in PInk and Blue by George Russell, redolent of easy relaxation during long summer days. Mark O’Neill, Arthur Maderson, John Brobbel, Sean McSweeney, Markey Robinson and Robert Egginton are among the many artists who feature. An Ireland of days gone by is recalled in Market Day, Roundstone by Lady Kate Dobbin (€2,000-€3,000) while Girl with Umbrella, Reflected by John Shinnors (€3,500-€4,500) is an arresting work of an entirely different era and style.  Musicians by Manus Walsh (€600-€800) is a stained glass panel by an artist who created some of the windows for Galway Cathedral. The sale of more than 260 lots features some antique furniture, rugs, books and collectibles including a Steiff teddy bear and a Hornby train set.

    Girl with Umbrella, Reflected by John Shinnors


    January 20th, 2021

    Composition by Evie Hone is lot one at Morgan O’Driscoll’s first online Irish art auction of 2021 which runs until January 25. The catalogue lists 220 lots in total and is online. Composition, which measures 24 x 18.20cm (9.4 x 7.2in), is estimated at €2,000-4,000.

    Evie Hone HRHA (1894-1955) – Composition


    January 19th, 2021

    The Leinster House cabinets sold for £106,250 at Christie’s in London today. By Thomas Chippendale junior they were part of a remarkable furniture sale entitled Apter-Fredericks: 75 Years of Important English Furniture. Originally at Leinster House, then at Carton, they remained in the possession of the FitzGerald family over the centuries. The hammer price was £85,000 and the top estimate was £60,000.

    A Regency Imperial extending dining table by Gillows of Lancaster commissioned for Westport House sold for £87,500. The sale of 140 lots brought in £3,408,750.

    (See posts on for June 3, 2015, December 3, 2020, January 2, 2021 and January 17, 2021)

    The Leinster House cabinets.


    January 19th, 2021

    The Design Museum in London has named the Teeter-Totter Wall, an interactive installation that allowed children based in both the USA and Mexico to play together across the border wall, as the Beazley Design of the Year 2020. The project designed by architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello with Colectivo Chopeke, created a place where children from both countries could connect playfully through three bright pink see-saws.

    The three bright pink ‘teeter-totters’ (seesaws) were slotted into gaps in the steel boundary wall by designers from both sides of the border and installed for just under twenty minutes on July 28, 2019. Although a temporary installation, the event lived on through footage shared virally on social media.


    January 17th, 2021

    The Apter-Fredericks auction online at Christie’s on January 19 has garnered enormous interest.  There are a number of fine Irish pieces on sale. Shown here is a c1750 Irish George II bottle carrier.  Used in the dining room it was on casters to allow drinks to be circulated among the guests. Apter-Fredericks have closed their London shop after 75 years and moved to an online model. This sale offers some truly exceptional pieces of fine antique furniture.

    (See post on for January 2, 2021)

    A c1750 Irish George II bottle carrier. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £8,750


    January 17th, 2021

    An extremely rare Irish Proof or Pattern Halfpenny  is one of a number of valuable Irish coins coming up at Dix Noonan Webb in London.  Bought for the equivalent of $2 many years ago it will be offered at a live/online auction of Coins and Historical Medals on on February 2.   It is from the collection of the late Eric Newman,  an important numismatist from the US. The George III halfpenny dates to 1774.  Complete with a portrait of the long haired king and with a harp on the reverse it is estimated at £2,400-3,000. An Irish George III pattern mule penny from 1813, one of only three specimens known, is estimated at £6,000-8,000.

    Irish Proof or Pattern Halfpenny