Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    October 26th, 2021

    The first Penny Black postage stamp comes up at Sotheby’s Treasures sale in London on December 7. The world’s first postage stamp is part of a unique document from the archive of British postal reformer Robert Wallace. It is dated April 10, 1840 and estimated at £4-£6 million.

    This small Penny Black – a pristine impression, unused, and from plate 1a (the very first printed sheet) and lettered A-I – represents the birth of a device that would be central to the birth of mass communications across the globe for more than a century and a half and that still has not been completely supplanted by newer technologies. Rediscovered nearly three decades ago but not fully recognised until much more recently, the stamp’s identification began when British businessman and philatelist Alan Holyoake came into the possession of The Wallace Document, to which the stamp is attached, almost ten years ago. Holyoake was to instigate a three-year research project – which culminated with the document being issued with certificates of authenticity from The Royal Philatelic Society, London (2016) and The British Philatelic Association (2015), and its subsequent exhibition at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington DC.

    ‘The Wallace Document’, which will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s, is considered the most important piece of philatelic history in the world. It is from a now dispersed personal scrap-album assembled by MP Robert Wallace, and brings together two highly important philatelic artefacts: the Penny Black and a proof of the ‘Mulready Stationery’ that had been commissioned by the government as an alternative means to prepay postage. Both were given to him in thanks by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Francis Baring, for everything that Wallace had done to overhaul the postal system and bring these innovations to fruition.


    October 25th, 2021

    Renowned Irish and international figures including Dorothy Cross, Gottfried Helnwein and Eilis O’Connell are among 300 artists who have donated post card size artwork to raise critical funds for Lismore Cathedral, one of Ireland’s most historic buildings. A total of 900 cards go on sale anonymously on November 6 at Verso Art. With restoration funds in short supply, a local community group led by Julia Keane has been working on an intriguing way to help to keep the roof on St Carthage’s Cathedral which has been a place of learning and worship since 635AD.
    The idea is simple – anyone can buy one of the 900 or so postcard sized artworks donated to the project, but you don’t know who the artist is until after you’ve bought it. As a bonus, every €50 spent will be matched by the Tomar Trust up to the sum of €30,000.

    Seal the deal for €50. Artwork by undisclosed artist Photo: Stefan Syrowatka


    October 24th, 2021
    Paul Henry – Turf Stacks in Connemara

    Art auctions cover an amazing range of subjects and Morgan O’Driscoll’s upcoming evening online sale of Irish and International Art on October 26 – now on view at the RDS – is no exception. Nowadays turf cutting is controversial, following an EU habitats directive making cutting illegal on numerous Irish bogs. This adds a certain poignancy to one of the major lots of the auction, Paul Henry’s Turf Cutting in Connemara.  It depicts mounds of turf drying in a classical Connemara mountain and water landscape under changing skies.  Once a familiar feature of the Irish landscape sights like this are no more.  The painting, which had been in an Australian collection, is estimated at 1€20,000-€160,000.In complete contrast is Bridget Riley’s captivating Two Blues from 2003, a screenprint from an edition of 250 with an estimate of €2,500-€3,500.  In a catalogue note the former Crawford Gallery curator Peter Murray comments on the stylish abstract areas of colour with no one colour dominant in this work by the distinguished British artist. Big name international artists don’t come cheap but no matter what the cost it is always a good idea only to buy art you really really love. Sean Scully’s Untitled No. 9, a composition of interlocking rectangles, dates to 1982 and is estimated at €60,000-€90,000.  There is a similar estimate on Banksy’s Jack and Jill (Police Kids) from 2005.William Conor captures beautifully the joy of children balancing on a makeshift see saw in Shuggleshoo.  Shuggle means to shake and this work was exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1951.  It is now estimated at €20,000-€30,000.A triptych by Francis Bacon, a 1989 recreation of a version first made in 1944, depicts strange hybrid creatures evoking aspects of humans and other animals.  The lithograph, numbered nine from an edition of 60, is estimated at$ €20,000-€30,000.  The same estimate is on a watercolour by Louis le Brocquy entitled Riverrun, Procession with Lillies.A portrait drawing of Captain Consadine by Sean Keating is estimated at €7,000-€10,000 and a drawing by Jack B Yeats entitled Romantic Shades comes with an estimate of €8,000-€12,000.The selection of sculpture includes Family Group by Edward Delaney, Autumn Birds by John Behan, Girl and her Shadow by F E McWilliam and High King of Munster by Orla de Bri.  There is art by William Crozier, Damien Hirst, John Shinnors, Donald Teskey, Sean McSweeney, Alex Katz, Basil Blackshaw, Frank McKelvey, Dan O’Neill, Roderic O’Conor and other highly collected artists.  The catalogue is online and the sale gets underway at 6.30 pm next Tuesday (October 26).

    Jack and Jill (Police Kids) (2005) by Banksy


    October 24th, 2021

    The eleven Picasso masterworks from the MGM Resorts collection made a total of $108,873,350 at a Sotheby’s sale in Las Vegas last night which was livestreamed around the world. Femme au beret rouge orange which features Picasso’s lover and muse Marie-Thérèse Walter made $40,479,000 over a top estimate of $30 million. Homme et enfant made $24,393,000 and Nature Morte au panier de fruits et aux fleurs made $16,637,350. The Sotheby’s auction was held at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, where the works had been on display in the Picasso Restaurant for years. Picasso was born on October 25 exactly 140 years ago. MGM Resorts plans to diversity its collection to include  more art from women, people of colour and emerging nations as well as from LGBTQ artists and artists with disabilities.

    (See post on for August 11, 2021)

    Pablo Picasso – Femme au beret rouge orange. © 2021 Estate of Pablo Picasso / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. UPDATE: THIS MADE $40,479,000


    October 23rd, 2021

    In what can be hailed as a welcome return to normality of a sort Ireland’s biggest antique fair for a long time is underway this weekend at the South Court Hotel in Limerick. Visitors are advised to bring their Covid certificates and to wrap up warmly as there will be plenty of ventilation. There is an array of art, furniture, old Irish glass and collectibles of every sort.

    Treasures are showing this 19th century Greek icon


    October 23rd, 2021

    No prizes for guessing that the contents of Tullamaine Castle, home of the Tipperary Hunt, will contain much of equestrian interest when they are sold by Sean Eacrett at the Horse and Jockey Hotel on October 25.  The castle, which has been sold, was a stud farm for the last 40 years where Bob Lanigan bred equine stars like Delilah, Bid Ajwad, Hot Tin Roof, Pollinator and the Minerva Rose.Highlights include a life sized sculpture of a pack of hounds by Robert Till,  a walnut and marquetry longcase clock by Anthonij van Oostrom of Amsterdam, art by Peter Curling, an oil on canvas of the Bailey Lighthouse by Stephen Catterson Smith and a collection of signed prints by the 19th century British artist Lionel Edwards.  Viewing is now underway at Tullamaine Castle and the catalogue is online.

    Master of the Hunt by Peter Curling – the watercolour depicts Michael Higgins, Master of the Tipperary hunt. UPDATE: THIS MADE €3,200 AT HAMMER


    October 22nd, 2021
    DONALD TESKEY (B.1956) – Fog Latitude

    There is art by Paul Henry, Sean Scully, Francis Bacon, Banksy, John Behan, Bridget Riley and many more Irish and international artists at Morgan O’Driscoll’s sale of Irish and International Art on October 26. Viewing for this evening auction gets underway at the RDS and continues right over the Bank Holiday weekend. The catalogue is online. Fog Latitude by Donald Teskey is estimated at 15,000-25,000.


    October 20th, 2021

    A pocket watch mentioned in Ulysses by James Joyce comes up at Bonhams Time is Precious sale in Paris on November 4. The 18 carat gold hunter case pocket watch and chain was owned by John O’Connell, Superintendent of Glasnevin Cemetary. The reference to O’Connell’s watch comes in Hades, the sixth episode of Ulysses. The novel’s central character Leopold Bloom travels with the funeral procession from Paddy Dignam’s house to Glasnevin cemetery where O’Connell was Superintendent (or caretaker as Joyce calls him). O’Connell regales the small group of mourners with an anecdote, an event described by Joyce as follows: “The caretaker hung his thumbs in the loops of his gold watch chain and spoke in a discreet tone to their vacant smiles.”

    John Kileen O’Connell (1844-1925) was Superintendent of Glasnevin Cemetery, and a well-known and respected Dublin character. In Ulysses, Joyce described him as a ‘portly man’, who “ambushed among the grasses, raised his hat in homage” as the coffin of the deceased Paddy Dignam passed by on a barrow.

    Curator of the Time is Precious sale, James Stratton, said: “This watch has the most fascinating and unusual provenance of any I have ever encountered. To offer a tangible item from one of the most famous and influential novels of modern times is a rare privilege and something I never expect to be able to do again.” The watch is estimated at £50,000-£80,000.

    18ct gold hunter case pocket-watch and chain


    October 19th, 2021

    Renowned Cork born artist Conor Harrington has added his home to the list of street art he has created in New York, Miami, Paris, London, Warsaw, Copenhagen, Aalborg, Mallorca, Sao Paulo, San Juan, and the Bethlehem Wall. He has used the city’s famous English Market as a starting point for a mural which is located at Bishop Lucey Park near one of the entrances to the market. “My favourite part of Cork is the English market. I used to do as much of my shopping as possible there when I lived in Tower Street, before moving to London. And every time I’m home I’m always sure to have a stroll through and soak up some of the atmosphere” he said.

    The artist Conor Harrington in front of his mural in Cork

    In my painting, a man sets a table, a composition of fruit and veg in the manner of a lot of still life paintings from the 18th Century, when the English market and much of the Grand Parade and Patrick’s Street was built. The table is overflowing with fruit, an abundance of fresh produce that has been available in the market for years. I’ve included a doll’s house on the table to illustrate how Cork is a city built on food and how our culinary scene is one of our greatest assets. I’ve also included a fire extinguisher on the table as a reminder of the Burning of Cork 101 years ago, and that although the market was mostly spared, damage was still done.

    It is all part of the second edition of Ardu Street Art project. Other new projects across the city are Friz’s “Goddess Cliodhna” at St Finbarr’s Road, Shane O’Malley’s bold and bright coloured angular shapes and colours on Lower Glanmire Road, Asbestos’ “What is home?” at South Main Street.


    October 19th, 2021
    JOHN FERNELEY SNR (1782-1860)
    Mr Hugh Dick’s Favourite Mare and Pointer outside Humewood House, County Wicklow

    This oil on canvas by John Ferneley Senior, the catalogue cover lot for the James Adam Country House Collections sale, made a hammer price of €95,000 on day two of the sale today. It had been estimated at €40,000-€60,000. The absence of a native school of equestrian painting has long surprised art historians, especially given Ireland’s close association with the turf. However, this lacuna is in part made up for by the fact that one of the finest of all English sporting painters, John Ferneley, enjoyed close links with Ireland. This work has an interesting provenance. It was commissioned by Hugh Dick Esq. MP, in July 1809 at a cost of 15 guineas; by bequest to his sister Charlotte Anna, who had married Captain William Hoare Hume of Humewood; with Leggat Brothers, London, from whom acquired by Mrs. Edward Shearson, (née Flora Josephine Shea)  New York (her posthumous sale, New York, Parke-Bernet Galleries, November 6, 1955, lot 48); Jane Engelhard (1917-2004), New York philanthropist and owner of the great racehorse Nijinsky which was trained at Ballydoyle by Vincent O’Brien; by gift of Mrs Engelhard to a US private collector.