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  • THE ANIMAL AND THE ARTIST

    December 9th, 2018
    Sly White Fox and Four Sheep by John Shinnors sold for 6.600 at Whyte’s sale of Important Irish Art last week.  Adult Reading at Artist’s Bedtime, which has just been published by Gandon Editions, recounts how the renowned Limerick artist was first inspired to paint animals.
    It happened one afternoon years ago when he went to do some plein air painting by the river.  He had walked through a field of cows and, though absorbed in what he was doing, felt a presence behind him. He turned to find almost the whole herd of friesians had gathered, jockeying for position, as if to judge the work.  “It then dawned on me that I was painting the wrong thing. whistling I quietly turned the easel about and put up a new canvas board  It was as if I really observed them for the 1st time”.

    THE KEY TO ULYSSES AT SOTHEBY’S BOOK SALE

    December 8th, 2018

    The key to the Eccles St. home of Leopold Bloom.

    A key created by James Joyce to help his friends keep track of Ulysses comes up at Sotheby’s book sale in London on December 10.  Seven copies were produced in total as the author ever wanted it to be shared too widely. In his words ‘If I give it all up immediately, I’d lose my immortality. I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant”.  However by 1930 it has been seen so widely that Joyce allowed its publication.  Another lot in the sale is the latchkey to Leopold Bloom’s fictional home at 7 Eccles Street, Dublin. In Ulysses, Bloom’s missing latchkey has been interpreted in Freudian terms as a symbol of his loss of potency, and in political terms as a synecdoche of Irish dispossession before Independence, but given Joyce’s careful mapping of Dublin in the novel it is also a key to a real front door – the home of one of Joyce’s friends. The key was rescued by a Joyce scholar when the house was demolished in the 1960s. The house’s front door was also reclaimed and is now exhibited at Dublin’s James Joyce Centre.

    A little more background on the story of the key in Ulysses – Bloom leaves his latchkey behind in the pocket of yesterday’s trousers when he departs from his home at the beginning of his day’s odyssey. He had reminded himself several times to pick up the key before going out, and his annoyance at his own forgetfulness recurs several times in the novel. Finally, when Bloom staggers home in the early hours of the morning with Stephen Dedalus , he puts his hand in his empty pocket to retrieve his key, so he has to hop the fence and come in by the back door.

    Sotheby’s specialist Gabriel Heaton said: “So our sale has two keys to Ulysses. One is a secret that was never kept but has guided generations of students through the novel; the other once unlocked a front door that now opens onto a brick wall. The very fact that these items still attract such interest shows that Joyce’s immortality is safe enough, and one cannot help but think that Joyce himself would have taken great pleasure in the appearance at auction of his fictional hero’s lost key.”

    The current example is one of three copies of the definitive English schema to precede the novel’s publication, the other two being for the translator Valery Larbaud and the publisher Sylvia Beach.   The online sale runs December 10.

    AFFORDABLE ART ONLINE AT MORGAN O’DRISCOLL

    December 7th, 2018

    A sale of affordable art by Morgan O’Driscoll runs online until the evening of December 10. There are 395 lots. The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection:

    J.P. Rooney – The Emerald Cove (700-1,000)

    ELIZABETH BROPHY (20TH/21ST CENTURY)A Flower for the Little Lady (700-1,000)

    ANTHONY ROBERT KLITZ (1917-2000) Merchant’s Arch, Temple Bar (300-500)

    Neil Shawcross RHA RUA (b.1940)
    Still Life on Windowsill (2009) (!,000-1,500)

    EINSTEIN’S GOD LETTER ACHIEVES WORLD AUCTION RECORD

    December 5th, 2018

    The Einstein letter

    There was a world auction record for an Einstein letter when The God Letter sold for $2.89 million at Christie’s in New York.  In the handwritten letter the physicist expresses doubts about the existence of God.  There was a four minute bidding battle between two telephone clients at the sale.

    Other results in the Fine Printed Books & Manuscripts included $81,250 for a collection of original printing blocks for the first editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection realised $162,500 and the rare true first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which achieved a world auction record for Harry Potter and more than doubled the high estimate to sell for $162,500.

    JAMES JOYCE’S PINCE NEZ MAKE 17,000 AT FONSIE MEALY SALE

    December 4th, 2018

    An original pair of pince-nez glasses owned by James Joyce sold for a hammer price of 17,000 at Fonsie Mealy’s rare book and memorabilia sale in Dublin today.  The pair, complete with, gilt fittings and chain and in a velvet lined morocco case from a Dublin optician, was from the collection of Joyce’s friend Thomas Pugh.  By tradition these are Joyce’s own glasses used when writing Ulysses. In good condition they are familiar from many photographs, including his passport.

    A letter written to Thomas Pugh by James Joyce in 1934, from the Grand Hotel Britannique, Spa, Belgique made 14,000 at hammer.  In it Joyce requested Pugh to visit him when next in Paris and also asks if Pugh knows of any illustrated weekly published in Dublin around 1904 for the use of Henri Matisse, who was working on designs for a new de luxe edition of Ulysses. (Pugh supplied the illustrations but the illustrations by Matisse are drawn entirely from Greek myth).

    A first edition of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, published by Jonathan Cape in 1953, sold for 9,500 at hammer.

    IRISH ART AT JAMES ADAM IN DUBLIN

    December 2nd, 2018
    THIS has been the best year ever on the Irish art market in terms of turnover and it continues on its merry way in the final run up to Christmas.  The James Adam sale of Important Irish Art in Dublin next Wednesday evening offers a selection that includes leading lots by Oisin Kelly, Roderic O’Conor, Gerard Dillon, Augustus John, Michael Farrell, Erskine Nicholl, Louis le Brocquy and Henry Moore.
    The top estimate in this auction is for Oisin Kelly’s bronze Children of Lir cast in 1983 at the Dublin Art Foundry as an issue of two.  It is from the original maquette for Kelly’s large scale bronze at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin dedicated by Taoiseach Jack Lynch in 1971. The other copy is on display outside the Taoiseach’s office at Government Buildings. This one is estimated at 30,000-50,000.
    A bronze relief of a mother and child and reclining figure by Henry Moore is estimated at 12,000-16,000.  The catalogue cover lot is another sculpture, F.E. MacWilliam’s Peace B from his Banners series (8,000-12,000) and there is sculpture by Rowan Gillespie, Rory Breslin, Imogen Stuart, Robin Buick, Edward Delaney, Eamon O’Doherty, Selma McCormack and James McIntyre.

    Paintings range from a self portrait by Augustus John (20,000-30,000) to an interior still life by Patrick Hennessy (7,000-10,000) and a seated model by Roderic O’Conor (30,000-40,000) to Battersea Boy by Louis le  Brocquy (10,000-15,000). There is a bright Malaga work by William Crozier (5,000-8,000) and a photo realist painting by John Doherty of part of two houses at Eyeries in west Cork (5,000-7,000).  There are landscapes, portraits and studies by artists ranging from Gerard Dillon, Peter Collis, Dan O’Neill, George Campbell, Peter Curling and William Conor to Percy French, Edwin Hayes, James Arthur O’Connor and William Sadler.  The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection:

    Oisin Kelly RHA (1915-1981) Children of Lir  UPDATE: THIS MADE 36,000 AT HAMMER

    Patrick Hennessy RHA (1915-1980) Interior, Still Life with a Vase of Flowers on a Chair  UPDATE: THIS MADE 6,000 AT HAMMER

    John Doherty – Eyeries, west Cork  UPDATE: THIS MADE 4,600 AT HAMMER

    Howard Helmich (1845-1907) – Reluctant Pupil  UPDATE: THIS MADE 3,200 AT HAMMER

    ISAAC NEWTON TREATISE FROM 1711 AT FONSIE MEALY BOOK SALE

    December 1st, 2018
    A rare Isaac Newton volume from 1711, sporting medals, original photographs and drawings will all be included in Fonsie Mealy’s rare books and manuscripts auction in Dublin next Tuesday.  There are first editions ranging from Charlotte Bronte to Ian Fleming, James Joyce’s pince nez and a 19th century transcript of The Annals of Clonmacnoise in this auction of 964 lots.
    The most important lot is Newton’s Analysis per Quantitatum series estimated at 8,000-12,000.  There is an original manuscript account of the Fall of Constantinople by Leonard of Chios c1453 and the earliest manuscript association of W B Yeats and Maud Gonne.  There are statistical surveys, books on botany, antiquities, art, poetry, travel, genealogy, literature in a selection with an across the board appeal.  There is an All Ireland Football Championship medal from 1905 and Galway’s first All Ireland Hurling Championship medal from 1923.  The venue for the auction is The Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan.

    (See post on antiquesandartireland.com for November 29, 2018)

    Newton volume  UPDATE: THIS MADE 26,000 AT HAMMER

    All Ireland Football Championship 1905 medal  UPDATE: THIS MADE 5,000 AT HAMMER

    JEWELLERY AND WATCHES AT JAMES ADAM

    November 30th, 2018

    A diamond necklace by Graff, a two carat diamond ring and a sapphire and diamond bracelet by Mouawad are among the top lots at the James Adam evening sale of fine jewellery and watches on December 4.  The catalogue is online and the sale is now on view. Here is a small selection:U

    DIAMOND NECKLACE, BY GRAFF (30,000-40,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 22,000 AT HAMMER

    SAPPHIRE AND DIAMOND BRACELET, BY MOUAWAD (10,000-15,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 8,500 AT HAMMER

    A PAIR OF DIAMOND EARRINGS (800-1,200) UPDATE: THESE MADE 1,100 AT HAMMER 

    A CORAL AND GEM-SET COCKTAIL RING BY DIOR ((9,000-11,000)  UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    WORLD RECORD PRICE FOR A BOTTLE OF WHISKY

    November 29th, 2018

    The Macallan 1926 in a bottle painted by Michael Dillon.

    There was a world record price for a bottle of whisky at Christie’s in London today when The Macallan 1926 sold for £1.2 million.  The 60 year old malt in a unique bottle painted by the Irish artist Michael Dillon came up at Christie’s sale of finest and rarest wines and spirits. The previous record of £848,000 was established at Bonhams in Edinburgh earlier this year.

    The Macallan distillery located near the river Spey in North East Scotland was founded in 1824 and produces stunning examples of cask-matured single malts, particularly their highly prized single-cask, limited edition bottlings and Fine & Rare Collection. The Macallan 60-Year-Old 1926 takes this rarity to new heights for collectors of Macallan whisky. Peter Blake, the renowned artist responsible for the album cover of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Valerio Adami were each asked to design a label for this special 1926 Macallan 60-Year-Old malt, and 12 individually numbered bottles from each artist were released after the whisky had spent 60 years maturing in ex-sherry casks prior to bottling in 1986. Less well-known was that one bottle of this ultra-rare elixir was commissioned and hand-painted by Irish artist Michael Dillon. The bottle depicts the Easter Elchies House of The Macallan against the backdrop of the Scottish Highlands.

    (See post on antiquesandartireland.com for October 4, 2018)

    AMRITSAR MASSACRE RECALLED AT FONSIE MEALY’S SALE

    November 29th, 2018

    The photo albums  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 1,900 AT HAMMER

    One of the most shameful events in recent Indian history – the Amritsar Massacre of 1919 – is recalled in a photographic archive at Fonsie Mealy’s sale of rare books and manuscripts in Dublin on December 4.  Lot 449 is three large albums from the Hon. Donough O’Brien, heir to the 15th Baron Inchiquin of Dromoland Castle in Co. Clare.  He was Lord Chelmsford’s ADC and the albums contain high quality photographs from Chelmsford’s term as Viceroy of India from 1916-1921.

    Unpopular with Europeans in India for being too radical and with Indians for being too conservative Chelmsford’s greatest failure was the handling of disturbances in the Punjab. His condemnation of General Reginald Dyer’s massacre of peaceful protestors at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar – a massacre depicted in the multi Academy Award winning film Gandhi – was overshadowed by the praise heaped on Dyer back in Britain.  Dyer’s troops entered Jallianwalla Bagh, a public garden walled on all sides with five entrances, and opened fire on a crowd for ten minutes. Official British Indian sources counted 379 dead and about 1,100 wounded. Indians reckoned 1,000 dead. The brutality stunned the entire nation, prompted Rabindranath Tagore to refuse a knighthood on the grounds that such mass murderers were not worthy of giving any title to anyone,  and is seen as a decisive step towards the end of British rule in India. The albums are estimated at 600-800.