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    Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
    TITANIC was launched in Belfast on May 31, 1911 – 100 years ago today.  To mark the centenary artefacts recovered from the wreck went on display for the first time in Northern Ireland. Seven of the items – which will be displayed as part of TITANICa: The Exhibition at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum – are on show for the first time anywhere in the world.

    This is one of several first-class glass serving dishes. Reminiscent of a ribbed shell, this candy or condiment dish has a modern appeal. The White Star Line logo is etched into the glass at the apex of the dish. ©1987-2004 RMS Titanic, Inc. (click to enlarge)

    This demitasse cup decorated with one of Spode’s famous cobalt blue designs is thought to have been used in the exclusive Café Parisien, adjacent to the à la carte Restaurant. The gold Greek key pattern within a cobalt field at the rim provides a striking pattern. ©1987-2004 RMS Titanic, Inc.

    This is one of several hand mirrors produced by “Royale Ivoire France.” The handle and backing are made of an early form of plastic created as a faux ivory which allowed for mass production. ©1987-2004 RMS Titanic, Inc.

    THE exhibition features 35 items from the wreck including a part of the hull structure, a porthole, silverware, glassware and personal belongings. They are part of a loan from US-based RMS Titanic, Inc a wholly owned subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions, Inc. and the Salvor in Possession of the wreck site.   Premier Exhibitions has conducted seven research expeditions to Titanic recovering more than 5,500 artefacts. In summer 2010 the company completed its eighth dive to collect scientific data and visuals on Titanic’s condition.
    These artefacts will join some 500 objects from the Folk & Transport Museum’s own collections. A magnificent 20ft long plan capturing last minute design changes to Titanic will be going on show for the first time. The plan has a significance which could never have been foreseen by the draughtsmen working at the Harland & Wolff shipyard a century ago. Meticulously drawn and annotated, it offers a unique opportunity to glimpse something of the world in which Titanic was built and the people who built and sailed on her.
    Part of the exhibition at the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum enables the visitor to step back in time to uncover life in Belfast 100 years ago. Daily routines and  activities from the shipyard worker’s home, to the carpenters workshop, to Kelly’s Coal Yard at Belfast Lough are re-created.  The exhibition runs until August.
    The plan of the Titanic used in the inquiry into the sinking of the ship in 1912 sold for £220,000 at Devizes-based Henry Aldridge & Son in England last week. Commissioned by the British Board of Trade it had been estimated at £100,000-150,000.  The auctioneer said the sale aroused interest from around the world.


    Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

    Michelangelo drawing. © Christie’s Images Limited 2011. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: IT MADE £3,177,250

    A rarely seen drawing by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)  features at Christie’s Old Masters and British Paintings sale on July 5 in London.

    The preparatory study is one of only 24 sheets related to his lost commission of The Battle of Cascina – and the last to remain in private hands. Michelangelo was pitched directly alongside his elder rival Leonardo da Vinci who was commissioned to paint The Battle of Cascina on the opposite wall of the newly-built Sala del Gran Consiglio in Florence’s Palazzo della Signoria.

    The drawing has been seen in public only once before at the exhibition of the artist’s drawings at the Albertina, Vienna, in 2010.
    In the same collection for over 30 years it is being offered at auction for the first time. It is expected to realise £3 million to £5 million.
    UPDATE: IT MADE £3,177,250


    Sunday, May 29th, 2011

    The Story of the Hunt by Thomas Hovenden. (click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR 47,000

    THE Story of the Hunt by Thomas Hovenden at the Adams Irish art sale in Dublin on June 1 is a rare example of work by the Cork born artist at auction.
    Thomas Hovenden was born in Dunmanway in December 1840, son of the town goaler. Orphaned in the Great Famine at the age of 6 he was placed in the Cork Orphanage. Later he was apprenticed to George Tolerton, a carver and gilder in Cork, who noted his skill at draughtsmanship.  Tolerton paid for him to attend the Cork School of Art which promoted ideas of aestheticism and the teachings of John Ruskin. Hovenden advanced his draughtsmanship by sketching the school’s collection of Antonio Canova’s plaster cast statuary and painting plein air watercolours.  A medal winning student he graduated in 1862.
    Hovenden arrived in America at the end of the Civil War and rose to fame painting patriotic scenes in sympathy with the American version of Victorian values, and later  for paintings of African Americans during the Abolitionist movement. Among his works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection are The Last Moments of John Brown. His work features in the collections of the Yale University Art Gallery, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the San Francisco Museum of Fine Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
    He studied in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts under Alexandre Cabanel.  He was sent there with funding from the art collector John McCoy and his business partner William Walters.  From there he went to Pont Aven where he met Irish artists and his future wife, Helen Corson.  He returned to America in 1881 and became  a member of the Society of American Artists (1881), the Philadelphia Society of Artists (1883) and an Associate member of the National Academy of Design (1881). He succeeded Thomas Eakins as Professor of Painting and Drawing at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1886-88) and his students included Alexander Calder and the leader of the Ashcan School, Robert Henri. Around the time of his untimely death in 1895  in an accident – he died saving a child on a railway track – academic painting went out of fashion and so he was soon to be forgotten.
    Painted in Brittany in 1880 The Story of the Hunt is estimated at 50,000-70,000.
    See posts on for May 20, 2011 and September 11, 2010.


    Saturday, May 28th, 2011

    Sean Keating's illustration for The Playboy of the Western World at Whyte's. UPDATE: THIS MADE 41,000

    These illustrations from April 1922 are from five oils by Sean Keating PRHA HRA HRSA (1889-1977) of  scenes from J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World.  The images feature as lots 33 to 37 in Whyte’s sale of Irish Art in Dublin on May 30.  They feature models of contemporary Irish actors and actresses.
    The artist makes an appearance in the images as Christy Mahon’s father. Keating even posed nude in the image of lot number 37.

    This Sean Keating illustration is estimated at 15,000-20,000. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD.

    An important commission for the artist, they formed part of his own collection.  He exhibited in them in various venues in the late 1920’s.  They were published by George Allen and Unwin, London, in 1927.
    Lot 33 (illustrated on the left), estimated at 30,000-40,000,  featured on a commemorative stamp issued by An Post in 2009 to mark the centenary of the death of Synge.  The five works are variously estimated at between 15,000 and 40,000.
    UPDATE:  Only one of these five oils sold. The auction grossed over 700,000 with a sell rate of 73%.

    See post on for May 19.


    Friday, May 27th, 2011

    Paul Henry's West of Ireland Cottages made £79,250 at Christie's on May 26.

    Paul Henry's An Old Man from Connacht made £34,850 at Christies.

    THE leading Irish artwork at Christie’s sale in London was Sir John Lavery’s Played !! which made £657,250. Another Lavery, Mary in Black, sold for £61,250.

    Sir John Lavery’s Played!! made £657,250.
    (Click on image to enlarge)

    © Christie’s Images Limited 2011

    Paul Henry’s West of Ireland cottages  made £79,250 over an estimate of £30,000-50,000. Other works by Paul Henry, R.H.A. (1876-1958) sold were An Old Man from Connacht which made  £34,850 and An Old Woman which sold for  £34,850.

    Portrait of Dorelia by Augustus John made £15,000 .

    A Still Life by William Scott made £337,250 and Untitled 1961 by William Scott made £12,500.  Portraits of Miss Joanna Yorke and Miss Lisa Yorke by Louis le Brocquy made £16,500.

    The 20th Century British & Irish Art sale realised £17,877,500,  the highest total ever achieved for the category. (See post for May 26)


    Christie’s has created the first ever complete app guide to the Venice Art Biennale and are happy to offer it for free to any art lover.  They say Christie’s Biennale App will revolutionise the way visitors experience the Venice Art Biennale this summer.  The 54th International Art Exhibition runs from June 4 to November 27 at the Giardini, the Arsenale  and venues around Venice.
    For your free download go to:


    Thursday, May 26th, 2011

    The Football Match by Laurence Stephen Lowry (1949) made a new world record price for the artist at Christies. (Click on image to enlarge)

    There was a new world record for the artist L.S. Lowry at Christie’s in London on May 29. The Football Match, which dates from 1949, made  £5,641,250, against a pre-sale estimate of £3.5million to 4.5 million. This is the highest price ever paid in the 20th Century British Art category. It went to a European private buyer.

    The previous record for the artist was set at Christie’s in 2007 with Good Friday, Daisy Nook , 1946.  It made £3,772,000 and a then record for 20th century British art.
    At the same sale a tennis painting by Sir John Lavery, R.A., R.S.A., R.H.A. (1856-1941) entitled Played!! made £657,250 against an estimate of £600,000-800,000.  It was bought by a UK private bidder.  The painting was last sold at Christie’s Irish Sale in 2001, when it made £575,750.
    A 1951 work by William Scott (1913-1989) entitled Still Life made £337,250 against an estimate of  £300,000 – 500,000.


    Thursday, May 26th, 2011
    Unpublished and never-before-seen photographs of the Beatles’ first visits to America in 1964 are to be sold at Christie’s in New York next July 20.  The Beatles Illuminated: The Discovered Works of Mike Mitchell comprises 50 lots of black and white shots.  They were taken by photographer Mike Mitchell when he was just 18 years old.  Filed away for almost 50 years the complete rediscovered collection is expected to realize in the region of $100,000.
    On February 11, 1964, just two days after their American debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, the Beatles performed their first US concert at the Washington Coliseum. The DC native shot dozens of intimate photographs. Mitchell had exceptional access to the events including their arrival at Union Station, the press conference preceding the performance and unrestricted, stage-front access for  historic Coliseum concert. He took more photographs when they performed their first US concert tour at the Baltimore Civic Center on September 13, 1964.
    The collection will be exhibited at Christie’s, South Kensington, London on June 11-12, at Grosvenor House Hotel in London from June 17-22 and at Christie’s in New York from July 11-20.  (Images courtesy of CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2010click on any image to enlarge)
    UPDATE:   THE collection sold for over $360,000 in an auction that had been expected to bring in around $100,000.  Prices ranged from $813 to $68,500.  All lots were sold.


    Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

    Francis Bacon Study for A Portrait, 1953. (click on image to enlarge)

    A painting by Francis Bacon (1909-1992) once owned by his friend Louis le Brocquy could make £11 million at Christie’s.  Study for a Portrait, 1953 will be a highlight of Christie’s Post War and Contemporary Art sale in London on June 28.

    It has previously been owned by two of Francis Bacon’s contemporaries: Rodrigo Moynihan, a pioneer of abstract painting in the 1930’s who was Professor of Painting at the Royal College of Art and le Brocquy.
    This was one of the last paintings Bacon made in his studio at the Royal College of Art rented from Rodrigo Moynihan from 1951 to 1953.  He created some of his greatest landmark works here including the definitive series of Popes and his first portrait triptych.
    Le Brocquy acquired the painting from Moynihan.  The Irish artist in turn sold it to Marlborough Fine Art.  Never sold at auction, it has been in private hands since. In 1984 it was bought from Marlborough by the Swiss entrepreneur and wine producer Donald M Hess, one of the world’s top art collectors.
    Francis Bacon’s work is among the most popular 20th century art sold at auction. His Three Studies for Self Portrait, 1974 made $25,282,500 / £15,422,325 at Christie’s New York earlier this month.  Another Bacon, Untitled (Crouching Nude on Rail), 1952, made $9,602,500 / £5,857,525 at the same sale.
    UPDATE:  IT made £17,961,250


    Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
    The hand written diary of Irish Victorian society figure Augusta FitzPatrick, later Lady Castletown, will be offered at Bonhams Printed Books and Manuscripts sale in London on June 7.

    The title page of the diary of Augusta, Lady Castletown. UPDATE: IT MADE £1,320

    A clergyman’s daughter she married John Fitzpatrick, the illegitimate son of the 2nd Earl of Upper Ossory.  He was to become 1st Baron Castletown of Upper Ossory and was Liberal MP for Queen’s County (now County Laois).

    At the time the diary opens in 1858 she was at the centre of a scandal about her alleged affair with the well-known preacher F. W. Robertson.

    She had a long affair with the composer Angelo Mariani whose outpourings she translated and copied into her diary. A typical specimen of Mariani’s devotion reads, “”My brain was on fire & people stopped me in the Corso to ask what was the matter, for the first time in my life I broke down at the Opera the other night”.

    She was a friend of the American novelist Washington Irving and marks his death in November 1859 in her diary with sorrow.  There is a portrait of Augusta, Lady Castletown by G F Watts at the Tate Gallery London.  Her diary is estimated at £600-800.

    UPDATE: This was sold for £1,320.


    Monday, May 23rd, 2011

    JANE AUSTEN'S MANUSCRIPT OF ‘THE WATSONS’ (estimate £200,000-300,000). (click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: IT MADE £993,250, triple the pre-sale estimate.

    The historic autograph manuscript of Jane Austen’s unpublished novel ‘The Watsons’ – the only major Austen manuscript remaining in private hands – is due up at Sotheby’s sale of English Literature and History in London on July 14.

    The heavily corrected draft, the most important Jane Austen item to come to the market in over 20 years, was probably written in 1804. It is the earliest surviving manuscript for a novel by Jane Austen. The work remains incomplete.  None of the manuscripts of her completed novels survive, with the exception of two draft chapters of ‘Persuasion’ (at the British Library), Austen’s juvenile work ‘Lady Susan’ (at the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York) and the fragment ‘Sanditon’ (at King’s College, Cambridge), the only other autograph novel manuscript of comparable length.
    ‘The Watsons’ centres on a family of four sisters – the daughters of a widowed clergyman. Its heroine is Emma, the youngest, who has been brought up by a wealthy aunt. When her aunt contracts a foolish second marriage, Emma is obliged to return to her father’s house and endure the crude husband-hunting of her two twenty-something sisters. She has, however, a close relationship with her eldest and most responsible sister Elizabeth. ‘The Watsons’ contains many of Austen’s perennial themes and her genius for shrewd social observation:
    Emma Watson to Lord Osborne: “Your Lordship thinks we always have our own way. That is a point on which ladies and gentlemen have long disagreed. But without pretending to decide it, I may say that there are some circumstances which even women cannot control. Female economy will do a great deal my Lord, but it cannot turn a small income into a large one.”
    The novel is considered to be around a quarter completed. The manuscript, comprising 68 hand-trimmed pages, is estimated at £200,000-300.000. Well known to scholars, it was her  only literary composition between the completion of ‘Northanger Abbey’ in 1799 and the commencement of ‘Mansfield Park’ in 1811.