Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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  • Archive for June, 2011


    Monday, June 6th, 2011

    Not Far from Here by Melita Denaro is priced at £17,500 sterling. (Click on image to enlarge)

    Not Far from Here is the title of this work by the Irish artist Melita Denaro.  It is from an exhibition which charts the progress of her painting over the last four years.  The Tenderness of Attention is the largest survey of her work. In two parts it takes place at the galleries which represent the Irish artist, the John Martin Gallery, Albemarle St., London WI from June 3 to June 25 and  Taylor Galleries, Kildare St., Dublin from June 10 to July 2.

    All Denaro’s small studies are painted on location on the Isle of Doagh, an island on the Atlantic coast of Ireland. Her larger oil paintings are inspired by these smaller studies and are usually painted in London. Denaro was trained at Central School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools.
    The exhibition presents two sets of paintings that are arranged to tell a similar story. It sets out to capture something of the rhythm of her painting created in part by the demands of her working routine as an artist: the monthly journey from London to Donegal, and the necessity of making all her work from one single spot on the isle of Doagh. The catalogue arranges the paintings by the date of each visit to Donegal, from 2007 to the spring of 2011.


    Monday, June 6th, 2011

    Al Capone's revolver. (click on image to enlarge)

    Al Capone’s .38 revolver leads Christie’s arms and armour sale at South Kensington, London on June 22.  The .38 (Special) ‘Police Positive” nickel plated six-shot double action revolver was manufactured by Colt.  It has chequered walnut grips and retains nearly all its original nickel-plated finish. The serial number is 384221.

    Al Capone  (1899 –1947) is one of the most famous American gangsters. The stereotypical mobster image – blue pinstripe suit, tilted fedora – is based upon photographs of Capone, and his personality has been used as a template for copious fictional criminal masterminds. He once observed that:   “You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone”.
    The revolver is accompanied by a copy of an affidavit sworn on March 25,1990 by Madeleine Capone Morichetti, widow of Ralph Capone. This states that: “Ralph Capone became the custodian and owner of a certain Colt Police Positive .38 Special Revolver, serial no. 384221, being nickel plates with a wood handle, which revolver was acquired from and was the property of his brother Al Capone”. The affidavit also states that, according to Ralph’s wishes, upon his death the revolver was to be passed to one Edmund Koeski which it was in 1976.
    Estimated at £50,000-70,000 it will be sold with a further 209 lots, dating from the 10th century to the 20th century with individual estimates from £300 to £85,000.
    UPDATE:  The revolver sold for £67,250.  It was the top lot in a sale which realised £634,825.


    Monday, June 6th, 2011

    The 1916 Tricolour.

    THE historic Irish tricolour flag flown over the headquarters of the Irish Volunteers during the Easter Rising of 1916 is headed for the United States.  The flag will be presented on loan to the American Irish Historical Society at Fifth Avenue, New York across from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    Now insured for $1 million the flag was captured by British soldiers after the surrender. It was later given to a doctor in Lisburn, Co. Antrium whose son in law donated it to the family of John Sweetman (1844-1936). He was one of the founders of Sinn Fein.
    The Sweetman family have loaned the flag to the American Irish Historical Society.  Ian Whyte of Dublin auctioneers will formally hand over the flat to Kevin M Cahill MD, President-General of the American Irish Historical Society, at the AIHS building, 991 Fifth Avenue, on June 8.
    Mr Whyte said: “the family are delighted to have this important icon of Irish history displayed in the AIHS in New York. The other flag that flew over the GPO during the Rising is in the National Museum of Ireland, and it is fitting that this tricolour is now in the USA, home to over forty million people of Irish descent”. It is hoped that the flag will be a focal point for the American commemorations of the Centenary of the Rising in 2016.


    Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
    The value of Irish art which has changed hands in the current season of sales amounts to around 6 million euro.  James Adam brought in around 1.1 million on June 1, Whyte’s and de Veres brought in 700,000 and 400,000 respectively in May, the Irish artists at Christie’s sale of British and Irish art on May 26 (including Sir John Lavery and William Scott) accounted for another 1.3 million euro and Sotheby’s annual Irish sale at the end of March brought in 2.1 million euro.  These bigger players achieved around 5.6 million.
    To this total must be added the achievements of smaller auction houses like Morgan O’Driscoll and Dolans which hold dedicated art sales and tend to deal in names that are less stellar.   In addition Irish art is a latter day mainstay of antique auctions around the country and features to a greater or lesser extent at most sales. All this increases the overall total. The six million euro figure is probably slightly conservative.




    These not dissimilar West of Ireland landscapes by Paul Henry boosted results at Christie’s, Whytes and Adams where they sold for £79,250, 106,000 euro and 110,000 euro respectively.
    Christie’s sold the single most expensive Irish artwork to change hands at auction thus far in 2011 when they achieved £657,250  for Sir John Lavery’s Played!!  Sotheby’s achieved the highest total for any Irish sale over the past two years.  Roderic O’Conor’s Landscape, Cassis was the top lot at Sotheby’s where it made £337,250.
    This website will make two comments on these results. The first is that these totals are highly respectable given that Ireland continues to be in deep recession.  The second is that the Irish art market urgently needs to find new ways of promoting in the salesrooms more contemporary Irish art. The best of Paul Henry, along with Yeats, Orpen, Lavery, O’Conor, Osborne , le Brocquy et all, is highly bankable, especially in recession.  But these are not the only Irish artists who deserve an outlet in the salesrooms. There is no shortage in Ireland of available quality work by contemporary artists. Many more are waiting in the wings for the recognition that is properly their due. The focus of the Irish art market is too narrow. This problem needs to be addressed by everyone involved in the art market in an effective way if stagnation is to be avoided in the salesrooms.

    See posts on for May 29, May 28, May 27, May 20, May 19 and March 29.