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  • Archive for April, 2012


    Sunday, April 29th, 2012

    A pair of magnificent cloisonné enamel caparisoned elephants from the Qianlong period (1736-1795), courtesy Christie's Images Ltd., 2012. (Click on image to enlarge).

    Nearly 400 lots of Chinese ceramics and works of art will come under the hammer at Christie’s, Hong Kong on May 30.  Highlights include cloisonné enamels, important ceramics, jades and textiles, archaic bronzes and a large group of Ming huanghuali furniture.  The Mandel Collection of cloisonné enamel works from mostly Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and the Qianlong period (1736-1795) was assembled by American collectors Dr. Sam and Annette Mandel. A pair of unusually large caparisoned elephants from the Qianlong period (1736-1795), estimated at US$518,000-777,000, is reputed to have been in the collections of Sir Winston Churchill, Aristotle Onassis and Maria Callas.

    The Yongzheng (1723-1735) and Qianlong periods (1736-1795) were reigns when Imperial interest in the arts pushed technical innovation and creative design to new heights.  A rare Yongzheng doucai meiping (doucai is a technique of dovetailing colours, meiping is a plum vase with narrow base, wide body and narrow neck) is estimated at US$1,000,000-1,300,000.  It was acquired from Yamanaka & Company, Inc. in 1943 in New York. A rare carved celadon-glazed vase with a Qianlong six-character seal mark has an estimate of US$3,213,000-4,500,000. There is a pair of huanghuali yoke-back armchairs from Ming dynasty (16th/17th century).  They are estimated at US$380,000-650,000.  Made nearly 500 years ago this pair would have been reserved for the most important guests or members of the household.  They are upright.  Lower ranking members sat on stools.

    A large doucai meiping, Yongzheng period courtesy Christie's Images Ltd., 2012. (Click to enlarge).

    A rare carved celadon-glazed vase with a Qianlong six-character seal mark, courtesy Christie's Images Ltd., 2012. (Click to enlarge).

    A pair of Ming Dynasty huanghuali yoke-back armchairs, courtesy Christie's Images Ltd., 2012. (Click to enlarge).


    Friday, April 27th, 2012

    The two day sale at Sheppards in Durrow, Co. Laois on May 1 and 2 offers something for everyone among 1320 lots, with more than 600 on offer on each day. There is everything from a rare Irish George III snuff horn to a Chippendale revolving pyramid bookstand on tripod.  There will be historic interest in a miniature portrait of Dublin born Rev. William Bruce (1757 – 1841) who became president of the Belfast Reading Society.  An opponent of the United Irishmen he formed a Dublin Chamber of Commerce with Napper Tandy and others in 1782. It has been argued that this was the first national political movement which was ‘non-gentry, urban, part-Catholic, part-Dissenter’. Other lots include an Italian School crucifixion attributed to the circle of Pompeo Batoni (1708-1777).  The catalogue is on-line. Here is a small selection:

    18th century Chippendale library table c1760 with revolving tapered pyramid top (5,000-8,000). Click to enlarge. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Oval miniature portrait of Rev. William Bruce (800-1,200). Click to enlarge. UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,650

    18th century gold mounted Irish horn snuff box. (800-1,200). Click to enlarge. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD.

    Circle of Pompeo Batoni 1708-1777, The Crucifixion (3,000-5,000). (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD.


    Friday, April 27th, 2012

    Edvard Munch, The Scream (1895). (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR A WORLD RECORD ART AUCTION PRICE OF $119,922,500.

    IF public interest is anything to go by The Scream by Edvard Munch is about to generate headlines.  It is the most expensively estimated lot in the May art auctions which get underway in New York next week. When Sotheby’s displayed the work in London earlier this month thousands of people queued in the street to see it.  It was a reaction never before witnessed.  There was very tight security (two other versions of the painting have been stolen from Norwegian museums).  The ony one of four versions still in private hands is estimated at $80 million at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale on May 2.

    At Christie’s Yves Klein’s “FC 1” is estimated at $30-40 million, which would be a record for the artist.  Other upcoming highlights include Double Elvis by Andy Warhol at Sotheby’s, Card Players, a Cezanne watercolour at Christie’s,  Figure Writing reflected in a Mirror by Francis Bacon at Sotheby’s,  Orange, Red and Yellow by Mark Rothko and No. 28 1951 by Jackson Pollock at Christie’s.   Altogether there are 15 works valued at over $10 million at Christie’s and 11 at Sotheby’s.

    See posts on for February 21, March 16, March 27 and April 5, 2012.


    Thursday, April 26th, 2012

    Kittie's Toys by Jack B. Yeats. (Click on image to enlarge).

    A set of nine hand coloured block prints by Jack B.Yeats banned in Ireland in 1918 by the British censor was the top lot at a sale entitled Ireland’s Struggle at Mealy’s in Dublin on April 25.  Yeats illustrated Kittie’s Toys, a poem by Dora Sigerson Shorter.  The illustrations were never published.  The censor said there was no objection to the illustrations, but banned publication of the poem, even though it had already been published. Sigerson’s poem is an allegory in the style of a child’s song, about young Kittie [Cathleen Ni Houlihan], who envies her friend Marie’s toy soldiers, Gretchen’s flag, and Johnny’s fleet  –  all things that were stolen from Kittie by her rough neighbour Johnny (Bull).  The nine prints – a cover design, a title-page and seven page designs to appear with the seven verses – were estimated at 5,000-6,000.  They sold for 9.500.


    Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

    A Family by Louis le Brocquy from 1951 at the National Gallery of Ireland.

    Louis le Brocquy, the grand old man of Irish art, died in Dublin today at the age of 95.  Self-taught he was one of a small number of Irish and British artists whose works broke the million pound barrier in his own lifetime. His Travelling Woman with Newspaper sold for  £1,158,500  at Sotheby’s, London, in May 2000.  It was from his Tinkers series, Cubist portraits of Ireland’s travelling community, commenced in 1945.  He painted in oil and watercolour, was a lithographer and tapestry maker.

    A Family” was donated to Ireland’s National Gallery under a tax deal in 2002. This was the first work by a living artist acquired for the gallery’s permanent collection.  It is one of a series of family paintings marking a change in Le Brocquy’s palette from the comparatively colourful work of the 1940s to predominantly greys, black and white- later referred to as his Grey Period. The work was conceived in 1950 in the face of the atomic threat, social upheaval and refugees of World War II and its aftermath.  The painting won the Prealpina Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1956.  Abstract portraits of famous literary figures and artists came later. He painted Samuel Beckett, Federico Garcia Lorca, Picasso and Francis Bacon, author James Joyce, poets W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney, and singer Bono.

    In 1943 he was a founder member of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art.  In 1965 he joined the first board of directors of Kilkenny Design Workshops and served on it for 14 years.  In 1969 he produced a famous series of illustrations for the Irish epic tale The Tain.  He was awarded France’s highest honour, the “Legion d’Honneur”, in 1975. He has been represented for many years by Gimpel Fils London. Born in 1916 he is survived by his wife, the artist Anne Madden, and two sons.


    Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

    DICKENS, Charles. The Personal History of David Copperfield. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1850 courtesy Christie's Images Ltd., 2012. (Click on image to enlarge).

    The letter accompanying the book, courtesy Christie's Images 2012. (Click to enlarge).

    Charles Dickens’s personal copy of David Copperfield will come up at Christie’s in London on June 13.  Dickens (1812-1870) penned the novel in 1850, and it is known to have been his favourite.  It is inscribed to Brookes of Sheffield and was sent to the knife and tool manufacturer in May of 1851.  Dickens had included a character in David Copperfield with the similar name of ‘Brooks of Sheffield’; in a letter dated 25 April 1851 Dickens wrote to the manufacturer telling them that the introduction of the name into the book was pure coincidence. Having received a gift of a case of cutlery from Brooks of Sheffield, Dickens presented them with his own copy of the book to counteract the common superstition that if a knife is given as a gift, the relationship of the giver and recipient will be severed.

    The book is accompanied by an autographed letter from Dickens presenting the copy to Messrs Brookes in which he apologises for the delay in their receiving the gift. Over the past 35 years only two presentation copies of David Copperfield have been seen at auction; in comparison with a copy of the book which has simply been signed by the author, presentation copies are more valuable as the author has gone to the trouble and expense of giving the book to someone.  It is expected to make between £30,000-50,000.


    Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

    Benjamin Franklin's 2nd edition sells for 29,000 in Dublin.

    Benjamin Franklin’s New Experiments and Observations on Electricity sold for 29,000 at Mealy’s rare book sale in Dublin on April 24.  The three part book by one of the founding fathers of the US had been estimated at 3,500-5,000. It was from the library at Barne Park in Co. Tipperary and was part of the Ricardi Moore collection sold at the Berkeley Court Hotel in Dublin.

    Benjamin Franklin made his observations at Philadelphia.  A major figure in the history of physics his many inventions included the lightning rod, bifocals and the Franklin stove. He formed the first public library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania.

    The 1754 second edition parts I and 2, and possibly first edition part 3, was inscribed inside the front cover: ‘ex. Libris ricardi Moore pd. for this Vol. 4-4paid, besides Binding.’  At the same auction A History of Air by Robert Boyle, father of modern chemistry, sold for 6,500. The collection of 880 lots was 75 per cent sold.

    See posts on for April 23, April 21 and April 13.


    Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

    Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky’s View of Constantinople and the Bosphorus sold for £3,233,250. (Click on image to enlarge).

    There was a record for Russian artist Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (1817-1900) at Sotheby’s in London today. His 1856 View of Constantinople and the Bosphorus sold for £3,233,250 to an anonymous buyer on the telephone.  There was spirited bidding from at least five bidders in the saleroom and on the telephone. The Russian masterpiece had been estimated at £1.2 – 1.8 million. Aivazovsky first visited Constantinople in 1845 as part of his duties as official painter to the Russian Admiralty. Completed in 1856, View of Constantinople and the Bosphorus celebrates the beauty and dynamism of a busy port, with the Nusretiye Mosque – an important landmark for navigation of the Bosphorus – to the right of the painting.

    It was the top lot in the Orientalist sale of 33 lots of painting, drawing and sculpture depicting Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa. The sale brought in  £5,586,000.


    Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

    A jadeite bead necklace of unrivalled quality, courtesy Christie's Images Ltd. (Click on image to enlarge).

    A pigeon blood Burma ruby and diamond ring courtesy Christie's Images Ltd. (Click on image to enlarge).

    A JAR oval shaped diamond ring courtesy Christie's Images Ltd. (Click on image to enlarge).

    A dramatic and one-of-a-kind diamond ring from JAR, one of the most sought-after contemporary jewellers in the world, is a highlight at Christie’s sale of Magnificent Jewels in Hong Kong on May 29. Set with three striking diamonds of exceptional quality – an oval-shaped diamond D colour, internally flawless diamond of 10.67 carats at its centre, flanked by two D colour, internally flawless diamonds of 6.07 and 6.04 carats – it marks the exquisite design for which JAR is known (US$ 2,500,000-3,500,000).

    Over 300 diamond, gems and jadeite jewels valued at over $76 million US will come under the hammer. There is a superb 6.04 carat Burmese ruby and diamond ring by Etcetera (US$2,500,000-3,800,000).  The no heat cushion-shaped stone possesses the most desirable ‘pigeon’s blood red’ colour and an extraordinary degree of transparency.  A jadeite bead necklace of unrivalled quality is estimated at 0(US$3,200,000-4,500,000). Evenly and strongly saturated, each of the  jadeite beads featured in this necklace exhibits the optimal combination of colour, translucency and texture. The glass-like translucency bolsters the rarity of these pure beads.

    Last year was a milestone year at Christie’s jewellery department. Global sales rech $600.1 million US, up 41 per cent on 2010. Hong Kong is ranked alongside New York and Geneva as one of the most important centre in the world for the sale of magnificent jewellery according to Vickie Sek, director of the Jewellery and Jadeite department at Christie’s, Asia.

    (See post on for March 30).


    Monday, April 23rd, 2012

    A match ticket to the Bloody Sunday game in 1920 .UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,400

    An historic match ticket to the fateful Bloody Sunday game between Tipperary and Dublin at Croke Park comes up at Mealy’s  rare books sale in Dublin on April 25.  The ticket, which is worn, is a survivor of one of the most significant events to take place during the Irish War of Independence.   On November 21, 1920 British Forces opened fire on an unarmed crowd attending a GAA football match killing 14 civilians.  Earlier that day the IRA mounted an operation to assassinate a team of undercover British agents in Dublin.  Later that evening three Republican prisoners detained in Dublin Castle were killed.  In total 31 people were killed in Dublin on that day.  Mealy’s estimate the ticket at 1,500-2,000. UPDATE: IT SOLD FOR 1,400.

    The venue for the 350 lot sale, which is entitled Ireland’s Struggle, is the Berkeley Court Hotel in Dublin.  It will feature historical documents, broadsides, pamphlets, newspapers, postcards, militaria, photographs and books.

    (See post on for April 13)