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    Thursday, March 30th, 2017

    Personal letters from Jackie Kennedy made £100,000 at Bonhams sale of  The Contents of Glyn Cywarch – The Property of Lord Harlech in London.  The Kennedy-Harlech Papers  the heartfelt personal letters between Jackie Kennedy and David Ormsby Gore, Lord Harlech, sold in the room to a private buyer.  This was a white glove sale where every one of the 531 lots sold. The sale total was £2,599,038, more than two and a half times the pre-sale estimate.

    The collection included Mrs. Kennedy’s rejection letter to the 5th Baron Harlech, one of JFK’s most intimate confidantes.  He was British Ambassador to the US from 1961 to 1965 and he and JFK had been friends since their student days at the LSE.  The 18 letters reveal that when he asked her to marry him she responded that she saw him ‘like a brother’. They remained friends until his death in 1985. She penned the rejection letter five years after JFK’s death as she sailed on the yacht of Aristotle Onassis, the shipping magnate who became her second husband. Lord Harlech had recently lost his wife Sissy in a car crash and was said to have proposed to Jackie while they were on holiday together in February 1968.

    Other highlights included a newly discovered portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts, court painter to Elizabeth I. It sold for £269,000 against an estimate of £60,000-80,000. Painted in 1597 it portrays Ellen Maurice, a prominent Welsh heiress and Harlech ancestor, whose pearls and jewellery are worth the equivalent of one million pounds in today’s market. Two remarkable Elizabeth I joined oak three-tier buffets, circa 1580-1600, made £140,500 against an estimate of £35,000-45,000. A 1936 Rapier 10Hp Tourer, a rare British sports car, one of only 300 built sold for £31,500.  And Irish artist Daniel Quigley’s portrait of The Godolphin Arabian, one of three Eastern stallions from which all modern racehorses descend, made over five times its estimate, selling for £100,000.  The auction was to raise funds for the restoration of Glyn Cywarch (known as Glyn) which Jasset, 7th Lord Harlech inherited on the death of his father in February 2016.

    (See post on for Febraury 26, 2017)

    The Kennedy-Harlech Papers sold for £100,000.

    Marcus Gheeraerts. This Portrait of Ellen Maurice made £269,000. Her pearls and jewellery would be worth £1 million in today’s market.


    Thursday, March 30th, 2017

    Basil Blackshaw HRHA RUA (1932-2016)
    Vase of Flowers

    There was strong demand for works from the studio of Basil Blackshaw at the James Adam sale of Important Irish Art in Dublin last night.  Nearly all 47 lots from the studio of a much loved artist who died last May attracted spirited bidding and many sold above estimate.  The top lot was his portrait of Clint Eastwood which sold for a hammer price of 22,000 over a top estimate of 15,000. In a catalogue note Eamonn Mallie how the artist loved “edge of town” men and “edge of society” people like travellers, horsey people, doogie men, drinkers and so on. Clint Eastwood played roles in which he was always battling against the odds. A seated nude made 11,000 over a top estimate of 7,000, Vase of Flowers made 9,500 over a top estimate of 4,000, Plane and Car made 8,000 on an estimate of 7,000-10,000 and The Wall made 7,500 at hammer over a top estimate of 5,000.

    The Talent by Jack B. Yeats made 80,000 at hammer,  Clare Island from Achill by Paul Henry made 35,000, The Startled Bird by Norah McGuinness sold for 28,000, The Struggle by Nano Reid made 8,000, La Parisienne by Grace Henry made 5,400, Woman Reading by Roderic O’Conor made 30,000, Girl in a Garden by Patrick Swift made 32,000 and Cu Chulainn by John Behan made 13,000.

    (See posts on for February 23 and March 24, 2017)


    Thursday, March 30th, 2017

    Pablo Picasso, Femme assise, robe bleue UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $45,047,500

    Femme assise, robe bleue by Pablo Picasso will be a highlight at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in New York on May 15.  Painted on Picasso’s birthday on October 25, 1939 it is a searing portrait of Picasso’s lover, Dora Maar. This was just after the beginning of World War II.  Filled with the unique character, distortions and tension that mark Picasso’s greatest portraits of Dora there is at the same time a tender sensuality in the organic, curvaceous forms of the face which provides some insight into their relationship. This picture was formerly owned by G. David Thompson, to whom the great curator and art historian Alfred H. Barr, Jr. referred as, ‘one of the great collectors of the art of our time. It is estimated at $35,000,000-50,000,000.

    Giovanna Bertazzoni, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, remarked: “We are bringing Femme assise, robe bleue to the market at a time when the demand for Picasso’s portraits of one of his greatest subjects, Dora Maar, is at an all-time high. The canvas is a powerful example of Picasso’s creative imagination and the passion which Dora inspired in him.”

    Francis Outred, Chairman and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, EMERI said: “Femme assise, robe bleue is a timeless icon of artist and muse which speaks to collectors across the centuries and continents.  Coming from a major European collection, the picture holds within it an incredible story.  It originally belonged to Picasso’s dealer, Paul Rosenberg but was confiscated in 1940 soon after its creation.  Later in the War it was intended to be transported to Germany but was famously intercepted and captured by members of the French Resistance, an event immortalised, albeit in fictional form, in the 1966 movie The Train, starring Burt Lancaster and Jeanne Moreau. In real life, one of the people who helped to sabotage the National Socialists’ attempt to remove countless artworks from France towards the end of the war was in fact Alexandre Rosenberg. The son of Paul Rosenberg, he had enlisted with the Free French Forces after the invasion of France in 1940.  The painting was subsequently owned by the Pittsburgh steel magnate and legendary collector, George David Thompson, from whose collection many works now grace the walls of museums in the United States and Europe.  We fully expect the romance and power of this painting and its remarkable story to capture the hearts and minds of our global collectors of masterpieces from Old Masters to Contemporary, this May.”


    Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

    ONE of the greatest examples of early Ming porcelain in private hands will lead the Chinese works of art sale at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong on April 5.

    The large bowl is decorated with fishes in a lotus pond and ranks among the finest pieces produced in the reign of Xuande Emperor. The lobed bowl is extremely rare and possibly unique.

    The sales is part of a series of eight Hong Kong spring auction at Sotheby’s. These sales will cover most of the classic fields, from Chinese furniture and early jade carvings to Song dynasty ceramics and Qing dynasty imperial works of art.

    The series of sales is particularly rich in its offerings of Ming porcelain.  Hong Kong spring sales will be held from April 1-5 with more than 3,500 lots estimated at around HK$2.5 billion.

    UPDATE:  It sold to an Asian private collector for US$29.5 million, more than double the expected price.


    Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

    Robert Delaunay
    La femme à l’ombrelle ou La Parisienne, Courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2017

    Art from the Collection of Greta Garbo will come up at Christie’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York on May 15.  Among the collection are prime examples from artists including Jan Alexej Von Jawlensky, Chaim Soutine and Robert Delaunay. In the history of cinema, few individuals remain as enigmatic and iconic as the actress Greta Garbo. “Of all the stars who have ever fired the imaginations of audiences,” film historian Ephraim Katz wrote, “none has quite projected a magnetism and a mystique equal to [hers].”

    Derek Reisfield, Greta Garbo’s great nephew, remarked: “Greta Garbo had a real love of art and paintings, and she was very passionate about certain artists and pictures. She was particularly enamored with these three canvases, which offer a particularly modern representation of women, especially for their time. This was a concept that that really resonated with her. Another factor that drove her collecting tastes was color. She was absolutely entranced by the vibrancy of the Delaunay. It was the central focal point of her living room in New York, and all of the furniture that she chose to surround the canvas played into its incredible colors. In essence, when we talk about Garbo we call her the first ‘modern woman,’ and I think that these three works speak to both her fundamental strength and striking aesthetic.”

    Alexej Von Jawlensky
    Das blasse Mädchen mit Grauen Zöpfen Courtesy CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2017

    Garbo successfully evaded the Hollywood publicity machine. From her earliest years in film to her death in 1990 she granted few interviews,  declined to sign autographs and avoided public functions like the Academy Awards. After retiring from cinema at 35 she transitioned to a life dedicated to fine art, scholarship and friendships. From the 1940’s she began to assemble a collection of paintings, sculpture, works on paper and decorative art. Among her friends were the Barnes Foundation visionary founder Albert Barnes and Alfred Barr, first director of the Museum of Modern Art.

    The evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art will encompass three canvases that exemplify Garbo’s sophisticated taste and proclivity for dazzling color. These works include Robert Delaunay’s La femme à l’ombrelle ou La Parisienne, 1913 ($4-7million), Chaïm Soutine’s Femme à la poupée, 1923-1924 ($3.5-4.5million) and Alexej von Jawlensky’s Das blasse Mädchen mit Grauen Zopfen, 1916 ($1-1.5million). Garbo’s grandniece, Gray Reisfield Horan, recalled her aunt’s profound love for the collection. “What are they talking about?” she would ask visitors about the pictures. “What do they say to each other?”

    In many ways, the collection both reflected and rebutted Garbo’s illustrious career: suffused with undeniable visual power, its boldness of color stood in contrast with the argent mystique of early Hollywood. “Color,” Horan recalled of her aunt’s acquisitions, “was always the essential component…. The works meshed and flowed in a wondrous explosion of enveloping hues…. Nothing was black and white.” Garbo herself, mesmerized by Delaunay’s vibrant La femme à l’ombrelle, would often remark of the canvas, “It makes a dour Swede happy.” If Garbo managed to enchant audiences via movement and gaze, so did the artists in her collection similarly capture the viewer through their pioneering use of brushwork and palette. “Color,” she enthused, “is just the starting point. There is so much more.”


    Monday, March 27th, 2017

    Skibbereen based art auctioneer Morgan O’Driscoll will hold viewings in London on April 3, 4 and 5 for his upcoming Irish and International Art auction at the RDS on April 10.  Mr. O’Driscoll, who conducts a number of online art auctions every year, has found new buyers and an increased awareness of Irish art and artists by holding regular viewing in the British capital for his major sales.   The evening sale at the Minerva Suite of the RDS on April 10 will feature 185 lots, including 27 lots of sculpture. London viewings are at La Galleria at 30 Royal Opera Arcade, Pall Mall and viewings at the RDS get underway at 2 pm on April 7.  Among the highlights is work by Paul Henry,  Frank McKelvey, Nathaniel Hone, Henry Jones Thaddeus, Evie Hone and Louis le Brocquy.  The catalogue is online.  Here is a small selection:

    JOHN BEHAN (B.1938) Wandering Mr Bloom from Ulysses (3,000-5,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 3,000 AT HAMMER

    LOUIS LE BROCQUY (1916-2012) Torso (25,000-35,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADD 24,000 AT HAMMER

    CAREY CLARKE (B.1936) Still Life – Fruit & Flowers (4,000-6,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 4,200 AT HAMMER

    FREDERICK EDWARD MCWILLIAM (1909-1992)The Judo Players (15,000-20,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 13,000 AT HAMMER.

    EVIE HONE (1894-1955) Composition (5,000-7,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 5,000 AT HAMMER


    Sunday, March 26th, 2017

    The Spring online sale of Irish art at Whyte’s next April 3 offers art lovers an opportunity to acquire quality artwork from Ireland’s best-known artists at a more a modest price point. Examples from the McClelland Collection are included in the sale.  Estimates range from 100 to 2,000 across 240 lots.  There is work by  Jack Yeats, William Conor, Estella Solomons, Colin Middleton, Tony O’Malley, John Skelton, James Humbert Craig, Frank McKelvey, Maurice Canning Wilks, Thomas Ryan, Patrick Leonard, Markey Robinson, Basil Blackshaw, and others.  The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection:

    Estella Frances Solomons HRHA (1882-1968) THE ROSSES, COUNTY DONEGAL (400-600) UPDATE: THIS MADE 380 AT HAMMER

    Tony O’Malley HRHA (1913-2003) UNTITLED (STILL LIFE), 1964 (1,000-1,500)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 850 AT HAMMER

    Brian Bourke HRHA (b.1936) POLLING, 1966 (600-800)  UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    William Conor OBE RHA RUA ROI (1881-1968) MILL WORKERS, BELFAST, 1906 (1,000-1,500) UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,050 AT HAMMER

    Patrick Leonard HRHA (1918-2005) SKETCHES [AT THE PUMP] (SET OF THREE) (200-300)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 220 AT HAMMER


    Sunday, March 26th, 2017

    From the necklace worn by Vivien Leigh and cigar case used by Clark Gable in “Gone With the Wind” (1939) to earrings worn by Marilyn Monroe in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953) the sale by Julien’s Auctions of property from Joseff of Hollywood next November is rich in important Hollywood memorabilia from a Golden Age on screen.  And they are on display at the Newbridge Silverware museum of Style Icons from now until May 14.  Marilyn Monroe’s skin tight dress was previously exhibited at the County Kildare museum.

    Legendary stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Vivien Leigh, Judy Garland, Olivia de Havilland and Greta Garbo are among the impressive list of Hollywood’s biggest stars who wore Joseff’s designs. Highlights of the sale include necklaces worn by Bette Davis in “The Virgin Queen” (1955); a brooch worn by Marlene Dietrich in “Shanghai Express” (1932); Loretta Young’s crown and comb from “Suez” (1938); earrings worn by Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like it Hot” (1959); a necklace, earrings and ornaments worn by Greta Garbo in “Camille” (1936); Order chains worn by Katherine Hepburn in “Mary of Scotland” (1936); a necklace worn by Judy Garland in the “Ziegfeld Follies” (1946); a brooch worn by Lana Turner and medallion worn by Vincent Price in “The Three Musketeers” (1948) and a necklace worn by Olivia de Havilland in “My Cousin Rachel” (1952).

    In the 1930’s and ’40’s Joseff supplied nearly 90% of all jewellery worn on screen. He developed an antiqued plating technique specifically designed to soften the glare of the harsh studio lighting and give every piece a veneer of authenticity. Joseff of Hollywood was established in the late 1920’s. After Eugene Joseff’s untimely death in 1948 his wife J.C. managed the business  until her death aged 97 in 2010.  The live and online auctions take place at Julien’s next November 16 and 17.

    (See post on for September 7, 2016)

    A pair of earrings worn by Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blonds.

    Rhett Butler’s one of a kind cigar case from Gone with the Wind.

    A necklace worn by Bette Davis in The Virgin Queen

    The Loretta Young crown from Suez.


    Friday, March 24th, 2017

    The Guennol Stargazer.

    The Guennol Stargazer is the top lot at Christie’s Exceptional sale in New York on April 28.   One of the finest and largest preserved Anatolian marble female idols of Kiliya type it dates from the Chalcolithic Period, c3000-2200 B.C.  It has a distinguished exhibition history and has been on loan at The Metropolitan Museum of Art at various periods from 1966 to 2007. It is from a private New York collection.

    “The Antiquities department is thrilled to be offering the Guennol Stargazer in the Exceptional Sale, an iconic work of art and one universally recognized as the finest Kiliya idol in existence. This extremely rare work, though dating to the 3rd millennium B.C., is widely appreciated across collecting categories, and was a source of inspiration for 20th century masters for its sleek and modern appeal,”  G. Max Bernheimer, International Head of Antiquities remarked.

    Stargazer” is the colloquial title derived from the slightly tilted-back angle at which the large head rests on the thin neck on the nine inch high figure. This creates the whimsical impression of a celestial stare. Only about 15 nearly complete idols survive. Fragmentary examples, particularly heads, abound. Most of the complete examples have been broken across the neck, as the present figure, suggesting that the sculptures were ritually “killed” at the time of burial. It was part of the Guennol collection formed by Alastair Bradley Martin and his wife Edith, the first modern owners.  Guennol is the Welsh word for Martin.  The last marble example of the Kiliya type at auction, The Schuster Stargazer, sold at Christie’s in New York in 2005 for $1.8 million.


    Friday, March 24th, 2017

    Among the 1,000 lots to come under the hammer at two days of sales at Mealy’s in Castlecomer on March 28 and 29 are a number of paintings including portraits and tribal art and a private collection of guns and other militaria, with rare examples not seen on the market for decades.  The catalogue is online.  Here is a small selection:

    (See post on for March 21, 2017)

    ADRIAEN VANDIEST (1655-1704), ‘A Man-O-War Firing a Salute with Figures on the Shore Line (8,000-12,000)   UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Pair of 12-bore double-barrel box lock side-by-side sporting ejector guns, no. 1 & 2 by W.J. Jeffery and Co. (5,000-8,000)  UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    ATTRIBUTED TO JONATHAN RICHARDSON I (1665-1745), ‘Portrait of a Military Officer’ (4,000-6,000) UPDATE: THIS MADE 6,200 AT HAMMER

    ATTRIBUTED TO MARTIN CREGAN (1788-1870), ‘Portrait of a Lady’, by repute Lady Mary Stewart, depicted with a young boy (150-200)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 190 AT HAMMER

    An oil on canvas portrait of a gentleman in the style of Rembrandt (300-500)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 850 AT HAMMER