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  • Archive for July, 2011


    Thursday, July 14th, 2011

    THERE is usually something for everyone at a rare book sale. The Mealy’s sale in Dublin on July 19 offers everything from an Irishman taken in to maps to notes from the White House (see post for July 8) among a rich cast of characters.  Here is a selection.  The catalogue is on line.

    Five Wives at a Time or An Irishman taken in!!! after Woodward. Published by T. Tegg, London, one of two estimated at 180-250 for the pair. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS MADE 240

    (Mattheo) Tabula Novissima Accuratissima Regnorum Angliae Scotiae Hiberniae. Estimated at 350-450. (Click to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS MADE 475

    The Book of Kells, facsimile, Verlag, Luzern, Publishers 1990 estimated at 4,000-6,000. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS MADE 8,000

    Charles II: By the King. a Proclamation Against the Rebels in Ireland. 'London, Printed by Christopher Barker and John Bull 1660 estimated at 700-1,000. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS MADE 850


    Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
    THE next jewellery sale at O’Reilly’s of Francis St., Dublin takes place on Wednesday, July 20 at 1 p.m.  It features 433 lots.  The emphasis is on jewellery, but it will also include  art, silver and some furniture.  Here is a small selection from what is available. The entire catalogue is on-line.

    This diamond and sapphire sunburst brooch by Tiffany & Co is estimated at 1,500-2,000. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,500

    A turquoise and diamond brooch pin estimated at 1,800-2,200. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,800

    This sapphire and diamond cluster ring is estimated at 2,000-2,500. (Click to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS MADE 2,100

    An Art Deco diamond and sapphire ring estimated at 4,500-5,000. (Click to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS MADE 4,600

    This pair of antique diamond drop earrings is estimated at 10,000-12,000. (Click to enlarge) UPDATE: SOLD FOR 10,000

    An antique three stone diamond ring is estimated at 18,000-20,000. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE; THIS WAS WITHDRAWN.


    Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

    October Fractal in memory of Mandelbrot by Tadhg McSweeney. (Click on image to enlarge).

    October Fractal in memory of Mandelbrot is the title of this work by Tadhg McSweeney.  It is from the solo exhibition “Radharc”, the Irish word for view or vantage point, at Macroom Town Hall in County Cork until July 29.  Born in Kilnamartryra near Macroom in 1936 his work includes landscapes, urbanscapes, seascapes, still-life and portraits.
    Benoit Mandelbrot, the Polish born French American mathematician who died in 2010, coined the term “fractals”. In an introduction to The Fractal Geometry of Nature he pointed out that clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line. Natural fractals include the shapes of mountains, coastlines and river basins; the structures of plants, blood vessels and lungs; the clustering of galaxies. Fractals are found in music, painting, architecture and stock market prices.
    Tadhg McSweeney is primarily a self taught artist who works mostly with oils and watercolour, with occasional fresco work. His inspiration comes from the environment around Kilnamartryra and his preference is memory. He studied painting in the National College of Art, Dublin in 1959, etching, silk and screen printing in London and fresco painting in Italy in 1984-85.


    Monday, July 11th, 2011

    The Death of the Virgin (click on image to enlarge).

    ONE of the highest prices for a wood sculpture was achieved by a German walnut Half-Relief with the Death of the Virgin. Dated circa 1430-40 it made £529,250 at Sotheby’s in London on July 8.  It had been estimated at  £60,000-80,000.  It had been restituted to the heirs of Ottmar Strauss in 2010 from the Badisches Landesmuseum, Karlsruhe. A Jew who rose through the ranks of industry and government  Ottmar Strauss (1878-1941) lost favour and fortune after 1933 once Hitler had seized power. The Strauss collection was dispersed in three forced sales held at Hugo Helbing in Frankfurt am Main in 1934 and 1935.

    The half relief was the top lot in a sale of Old Master Sculpture & Works of Art which made £2,657,050 against an estimate of £2,221,700-3,309,000.This carved chalcedony cover made £1,497,250. (click on image to enlarge).

    Alexander Kader, Head of Sotheby’s European Sculpture and Works of Art Department, said: “Combined with two lots offered this week in the Treasures, Princely Taste sale, the chalcedony cover attributed to Miseroni, which sold for £1,497,250,(illustrated on the right), and the pair of allegorical bronze sculptures by Francesco Bertos, which sold  for £577,250, this brings a combined total of £4,731,550 for Old Master Sculpture and Works of Art sold at Sotheby’s London over two days.”


    Monday, July 11th, 2011
    A little bit of Irish nostalgia and a slice of Irish history feature at Kerry Auction Rooms, Moyderwell, Tralee on July 12 at 2 p.m.  Among the 1,000 lots on offer is a watercolour and ink drawing by Gerard Dillon entitled Farmyard Scene.  It depicts a setting that half a century ago was commonplace in Ireland and is much more rare now.  The work is estimated at 1,800-2,000.

    Farmyard Scene by Gerard Dillon. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD.

    The Irish War of Independence Medal awarded to Frank Foley. UPDATE: THIS MADE 520

    There is an Irish War of Independence medal awarded to Frank Foley of Ballybunion Road, Listowel.  He was an employee of the railroad, which was useful for transferring intelligence along the route. The lot, including the original box and a photo of him in his railway uniform, is estimated at 600-800. The sale also includes the programme for a play put on by Irish Volunteer prisoners at Ballykinlar Internment Camp in Co. Down in 1921. There were two performances of The Eloquent Dempsey, a comedy in three acts by William Boyle.  Ballykinlar held over 2,000 prisoners, who organised their own theatre companies, classes, societies and craft groups and even issued their own token coinage. The camp was referred to by its inmates as “the university”.   The estimate for the programme is 150-250.
    The catalogue for the sale is on-line at


    Sunday, July 10th, 2011

    This masterpiece of English Rococo, the Burghley Epergne, was created for the 9th Earl of Exeter. It is estimated at $800,000/1.2 million. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $950,500.

    The four day sale of  the Lily and Edmond J. Safra Collections  at Sotheby’s in New York in October offers remarkable opportunities to collectors around the world.  Sotheby’s say that the six dedicated sales from October 18-21 represent the pinnacle of their respective collecting categories.

    The sales are as follows: Magnificent European Furniture & Works of Art, led by an extraordinary group of French 18th-century lacquer, arguably is the most important at auction since the 1882 sale of the Collection of the 12th Duke of Hamilton from Hamilton Palace, Scotland; Important Russian Works of Art comprised of over 100 lots of fine and important Russian porcelains, silver, enamels and other objects; Highly Important Silver, including a stunning assemblage of primarily English and French creations from the mid-18th to the early-19th centuries; Important Cosway Bindings, comprised of a magnificent group of approximately 180 Cosway bindings, the finest collection to be sold at auction in nearly 90 years; Interiors: Fine 19th Century Watercolors, presenting a collection of over 100 interior paintings, many of which document the great estates of wealthy patrons and sumptuous palaces of royalty;  European Furniture, Fine & Decorative Arts, led by a large group of 18th-century Meissen porcelain figures of birds, as well as a significant collection of extremely fine and rare ‘tour de force’ turned ivory carvings.

    Cosway binding by Riviere & Sons Concerning the True Portraiture of Mary Queen of Scots by Joshua James Foster. The cover is inset with 13 miniature portraits of Mary Stuart and François II, almost certainly painted by Miss C. B. Currie ($40/60,000). (Click to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $50,000.

    Mr. and Mrs. Safra’s collections offer unparalleled opportunities for connoisseurs worldwide. The full sale, which is estimated in excess of $40 million, will be on exhibition throughout Sotheby’s York Avenue headquarters beginning 14 October.   A two day sale of the Safra Collections at Sotheby’s in 2005 realised  $49 million.
    Born in Beirut to a family that started in banking at the time of the Ottoman Empire Edmond Safra built a business that spanned more than thirty countries across the globe. A victim of arson at his home in Monaco, he died in 1999.  He was an extraordinary philanthropist who supported tens of thousands of students, underwrote medical research, built and restored schools and synagogues, endowed professorships, and contributed to countless humanitarian, religious, educational, and cultural causes worldwide. Since 1999 Lily Safra has chaired the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation. Both personally and through the Foundation, she supports research into neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, at dozens of hospitals and universities worldwide


    Friday, July 8th, 2011

    Letters from Theodore Roosevelt at Mealy's book sale. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,800

    US President Theodore Roosevelt and Irish poet William Butler Yeats are among the personalities to feature at a Mealy’s sale in Dublin on July 19. An archive of Yeats letters and a presidential correspondence  are among outstanding items in the 670 lot auction of the Fred Hanna Collection at the D4 Hotel.
    The Yeats archive comprises 13 letters and cards mostly from 1898 to journalist and former MP Thomas Gill.  T.P. Gill (1858 – 1931), from Co. Tipperary was an Irish Party M.P. 1885 – 1892. He resigned after failing to heal the breach over Parnell. In August 1898 he became editor of the Dublin Daily Express, with a brief to expand its arts coverage. Until he lost the job in Sept. 1899 he had considerable powers of artistic patronage, and so was of great interest to Yeats, and his literary colleagues. In 1900 Gill became Secretary of the Dept. of Agriculture and Technical Instruction in Dublin, another influential post which he held for 20 years.

    The Yeats Archive at Mealy's book sale. (Click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: THIS LOT WAS WITHDRAWN.

    The letters show how, in 1899, Gill was consulted  over a disagreement with Edward Martyn over the theological soundness of ‘The Countess Cathleen’ (a verse drama by Yeats dedicated to Maud Gonne). In a letter of May 22 of that year Yeats suggests that the Express might quote Max Beerbohm’s comments on the play. In a 1900 note Yeats says he thinks George Moore would accept a seat in Parliament, ‘if he had a definite offer of a seat without a contest.’ An unsigned typescript letter to Yeats, probably from Gill, advises him to go ahead with ‘The Countess Cathleen’ and to pay no heed to the theologians.  The correspondence is estimated at 8,000-14,000.
    Lot 495 is a correspondence from Theordore Roosevelt to T.P. Gill, with whom there is apparently a family connection.  It includes a typescript signed letter on White House headed paper from Roosevelt to Gill, Sept. 1903, thanking him for sending the ‘Cucullain Saga.’ ‘I had ordered it myself and have now cancelled the order and have ordered Douglas Hyde’s “A Literary History of Ireland”. There is a presidential Visiting Card inscribed by Roosevelt  ‘With hearty thanks for your congratulations’ addressed to T.P. Gill, Department of Agriculture, Dublin.
    A typed signed letter from Roosevelt (in London) to Gill, 28 May 1910 confirms arrangements for a meeting, ‘It is as you know, the most difficult thing in the world for me to get any time for myself. But come in at 5.30 on Thursday next .. and I will do my best.’  There is banquet programme for Eighth Annual Banquet of New York Society of the Order of the Founders and Patriots of America, April, 29, 1904 and a collection of  Presidential documents and memorabilia.  The estimate for the correspondence is 2,000-3,000.
    The catalogue for the sale is on-line at


    Thursday, July 7th, 2011
    Over 400 lots of European fine and decorative arts from the estate of Dr. Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair, will come under the hammer at Christie’s in London on July 14.  Spanning the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries they are from the Lyons Demesne in Co. Kildare. The sale is expected to bring in more than two million sterling.
    Highlights include an important full length portrait in pastel of Arthur Hill, 2nd Marquess of Downshire (1753-1801) by Hugh Douglas Hamilton, R.H.A., 1736-1801  (£200,000-300,000); a pair of George III giltwood and painted satinwood console tables in the manner of Thomas Chippendale the Younger (£50,000-80,000); a Louis XV Gobelins tapestry, by Claude Audran ( £30,000-50,000) and a white marble sculpture of Love Awakened by Giovanni Battista Lombardi, Rome, circa 1870 (£30,000-50,000).
    Dr. Ryan, who died in 2007, was one of Ireland’s biggest philathropists and supporter of the arts. There was a post about the sale on on April 14.  Here is a further selection of lots on offer:

    One of a pair of Irish George II armchairs c1750 estimated at £20,000-40,000. (Click on image to enlarge). Copyright Christie's Images. UPDATE: THE PAIR MADE £39,650.

    Nathaniel Hone, R.A. (Dublin 1718-1784 London) Portrait of Miss Gardner. (£10,000-15,000). (Click on image to enlarge). Copyright Christie's Images. UPDATE: THIS MADE £17,500

    Thomas Roberts (Waterford 1748-1778 Lisbon) A wooded landscape with a waterfall possibly at Powerscourt. (£40,000-60,000). Click to enlarge. Copyright Christie's Images. UPDATE: THIS MADE £73,250

    William John Leech (1881-1968) A self-portrait, seated in a garden. (£25,000-35,000). Click to enlarge. Copyright Christie's Images. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Adams Blackrock sale in Dublin on July 12

    Thursday, July 7th, 2011
    This is a small selection of items from the sale in Dublin at Adams Blackrock on Tuesday, July 12 at 11 a.m. Just over 400 lots will come under the hammer. The catalogue is  on-line at

    Charles Brady, The Paint Brush, (1,800- 2,000). UPDATE: THIS MADE £1,850.

    This Waterford crystal six branch chandelier is estimated at 1,000-1,500. UPDATE: THIS LOT WAS WITHDRAWN AND IS TO BE OFFERED AGAIN IN SEPTEMBER.

    This 1940's sunburst mirror is estimated at 80-120. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    A George III cream jug (London 1763) estimated at 40-60. UPDATE: THIS MADE 140


    Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

    Francesco Guardi's Venetian masterpiece made £26,697,250. (Click on image to enlarge)

    Francesco Guardi’s monumental masterpiece Venice, a View of the Rialto Bridge, Looking North, from the Fondamenta del Carbon made £26,697,250 at Sotheby’s on July 6.  This was a record as the second highest price paid for any Old Master painting at auction, a record for a Venetian view painting at auction and a record for Guardi.   It was bought by an anonymous bidder in a sale which achieved a total of  £47,640,900.

    Correggio - Madonna and Child with the Infant Saint John the Baptist made £3,625,250. (Click to enlarge)

    There were artist records for seven other paintings.  Hans Schäufelein double-sided, tempera and oil altarpiece panel, The Dormition of the Virgin, realised £2,729,250;  Madonna and child with the infant Saint John the Baptist by Antonio Allegri, better known as Correggio made £3,625,250; John de Critz the Elder oil on panel Portrait of James I made £199,250; Jacob Knyff’s painting Charles II and James, Duke of York, on board H.M.S. Triumph, with three royal yachts off Dover made £169,250; Francesco de Michele Triptych: Central panel: Saint Gregory the Great: left wing: Saint Catherine of Alexandria: right wing: Saint Jerome made £241,250;  Vittore Ghislandi called Fra G algario Portrait of a young man in a green tunic made £325,250 and Anthonie Verstraelen A winter landscape with figures skating on a frozen river beside a village made £481,250.

    Sir Anthony Van Dyck’s Portrait of a Carmelite monk, head and shoulders made £713,250 and A Bearded Man with Hands Raised by Van Dyck made £457,250.  John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral From The Meadows made £657,250.
    A total of 50 of the 73 lots on offer found buyers in a sale that was sold  68.5% by lot and 91.6% by value.

    John Constable’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows made £657,250. (click to enlarge).

    The auction shot with Henry Wyndham selling the Guardi.

    The previous highest price for a Venetian view painting was £18.6 million for Canaletto’s Venice – The Grand Canal from Palazzo Balbi, at Sotheby’s London in July 2005.  The previous auction record for a monumental view painting by Francesco Guardi was  £9,889,937 at Sotheby’s in Monaco in 1989.

    (All images copyright Sotheby’s)  (See posts for June 21, June 19 and February 26.)