Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Saturday, March 31st, 2018

    Jackson Pollock’s Number 32, 1949

    Number 32, 1949 by Jackson Pollock comes up at Sotheby’s contemporary art evening auction in New York on May 16.  Never before seen at auction it is estimated at $30-40 million.  The production of the artist’s drip paintings of 1948-9 stands as one of the most radical events in 20th-century art, in which the boundaries of painting were pushed and a new aesthetic established. Number 32, 1949 comes from a critical year for the artist and epitomises the chaotic vibrancy, heroic drama and thrilling vigour that have come to define Pollock’s prodigious legacy.

    Jackson Pollock executed his first drip painting in 1947. Over the next two years he would hone this now instantly recognisable, signature technique, producing the monumental Autumn Rhythm (collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) and Number 1A, 1948 (collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York). Number 32 is one of a small number of more intimate 1949 paintings in which the artist more fully explored the subtleties of the drip technique. It was featured in the second of two shows that year at Betty Parsons Gallery about which Robert M. Coates wrote in the New Yorker: “They seem to me the best painting he has yet done.”

    Number 32 is one of a very limited group of 16 drip paintings Pollock created on paper mounted on masonite or canvas in 1949 and one of only eight that feature the aluminium paint that creates a lustrous shimmer around his elaborate gestural movements. Boasting a fully painted surface with intricate layers of dripped and poured oil the work has one of the most complete and richly covered surfaces of the entire series.


    Thursday, March 29th, 2018

    Flesh And Spirit by Jean-Michel Basquiat

    Flesh And Spirit by Jean-Michel Basquiat is a highlight of Sotheby’s New York Contemporary Art evening auction on May 16. Made up of multi-canvas panels measuring a combined 145 by 145 inches, the 1983 work is one of the largest ever made by the artist. It was acquired from Champions, the legendary exhibition at Tony Shafrazi Gallery in January 1983, for $15,000 by visionary collector Dolores Ormandy Neumann that year and has remained in the collection of the Neumann family since.

    Dolores Ormandy Neumann was an early champion of graffiti artists. In fact, it was her discovery and encouragement of graffiti art that presciently drove the influence and recognition of these emerging artists in downtown New York in the early ’80’s, leading to their embrace by an audience outside of the East Village.

    In 1973, the year following President Nixon’s historic 1972 trip to China, Mrs Ormandy Neumann’s uncle, Eugene Ormandy, led the first American orchestra to perform in China as the trailblazing conductor of the Philadelphia Philharmonic. The tour, which took place seven years after the start of the Cultural Revolution and was attended by the Chinese First Lady Madam Mao in Beijing, is widely heralded the start of artistic exchange between the two countries.


    Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

    Constantin Brancusi – La Jeune fille sophistiquée (Nancy Cunard)

    A masterpiece of 20th century sculpture, Constantin Brancusi’s La Jeune fille sophistiquée (Nancy Cunard), comes up  at Christie’s in New York on May 15.  This unique piece from the collection of Elizabeth Stafford is at auction for the first time.  Christie’s say it is poised to make an auction record for the artist. It was cast in polished bronze in 1932 and acquired  by Mrs. Stafford and her husband Frederick Stafford directly from Brancusi during a visit to his studio in 1955.

    An extraordinarily rare and important work, La Jeune fille sophistiquée is the only existing bronze example of Brancusi’s stylized portrait of the Anglo-American heiress and writer Nancy Cunard. The work retains the artist’s original hand-carved marble base, a factor of immense significance given the importance Brancusi attached to the interaction between materials and the interplay between his sculptural subjects and the pedestals upon which he placed them.

    Conor Jordan, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, New York, remarked: “A daring and exquisite work of art, the Brancusi from The Collection of Elizabeth Stafford represents one of the vanishingly small number of the artist’s bronzes with its original carved base not in a museum collection. Its appearance on the market will be an exciting event for the world’s foremost collectors of Modern art.”


    Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

    Gino De Dominicis (1947-1998) – Untitled. Gold and silver leaf, tempera and pencil on panel. Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd.

    In 2018 Christie’s Italy celebrates its 60th anniversary, since the auction house opened its first ever representative office outside the UK in Rome in 1958. After five years of very successful Milan Modern and Contemporary auctions with average sell-through rates of 93% by lot, Christie’s will offer the 6th edition of this curated sale on April  11 at Palazzo Clerici in Milan.

    Reflecting a growing global appetite for the best of Italian post-war and contemporary art, Christie’s Milan auctions have seen an increase of international participation over the years with registrants coming from 17 countries, including from Europe, Middle East, UK, Asia, North and South America.

    Renato Pennisi, Director and Senior Specialist, Head of Sale, Christie’s Italy, said: “The April 2018 auction will offer a very tailor-made approach to satisfy the needs of our national and growing international collector group. All 57 lots are being sourced privately and many have never or not appeared at auction for decades. This year we have integrated a new section dedicated to the figurative artists, which is been celebrated with the current exhibition Post Zang Tumb Tuuum. Art Life Politics: Italia 1918–1943 at the Fondazione Prada until 28 June. We are again pleased to present such a great variety of 20th century Italian art movements in Milan, as this city continues to be a key location to buy the very best of Italian Art”.

    Saturday, March 24th, 2018

    The Spring sale of Irish art at James Adam in Dublin takes place on March 27. The catalogue, which lists 123 lots, is online.  Here is a small selection:

    (See post on for March 20, 2018)

    Colin Middleton RHA RUA (1910 – 1983) Judy  UPDATE: THIS MADE 26,000 AT HAMMER

    Richard Doyle (1824 – 1883)
    Pied Piper of Hamelin  UPDATE: THIS MADE 10,000 AT HAMMER

    James Arthur O’Connor (1792-1841)
    Two Figures in a Moonlit Landscape  UPDATE: THIS MADE 7,400 AT HAMMER

    Felim Egan (b.1952)
    Blue Motion (1986)
    Triptych  UPDATE: THIS MADE 2,800 AT HAMMER

    Looking towards Achill from the east of Achill Sound by Paul Henry  UPDATE: THIS MADE 47,000 AT HAMMER

    Bird Barking by Hilary Heron (1923-1976)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 7,000 AT HAMMER

    Saturday, March 24th, 2018

    Africa Dances by Ben Enwonwu (£60,000-£90,000). UPDATE:  THIS SOLD FOR £187,500

    Modern and Contemporary African art will come under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London on March 28.  This is the second dedicated sale in what is the newest specialist department at Sotheby’s.  It will include works by 62 artists from 16 countries across Africa.

    The focus is on contemporary art.  Most of these works have not been offered before in an international auction. Last year the inaugural sale in this category drew buyers from 30 countries and more than half the lots sold at figures above the high estimate.

    Hannah O’Leary, head of modern and contemporary art at Sotheby’s said:  “The international spotlight on Modern and Contemporary African art is growing ever stronger as museums, critics and art fairs increasingly look to profile art from the region”.


    Wednesday, March 21st, 2018

    The Farnese Blue

    After three centuries in the same family one of the foremost historic diamonds – The Farnese Blue – will come to market  for the first time in history this spring. Given to Elisabeth Farnese, Queen of Spain (1692-1766), worn on a diadem that formerly belonged to the last Queen of France, Marie-Antoinette (1755-1791), the legendary diamond has subsequently passed down through four of the most important royal families in Europe: Spain, France, Italy and Austria. Witness to 300 years of European history the diamond has travelled across the continent for centuries.  It was kept secretly in a royal casket.  Few knew of its existence. The 6.16-carat pear shaped blue diamond will be offered in Sotheby’s sale of Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels in Geneva on May 15 2018 with an estimate of US$ 3.7 – 5.3 million.

    Blue has often been identified as the colour of the Kings and in the 17 and 18th centuries, blue diamonds were viewed as the ultimate royal gift. Like the famous Hope and Wittelsbach diamonds, the Farnese Blue was certainly found in the famed Golconda mines of India, which was the sole source of diamonds until the discoveries in Brazil in the 1720’s.

    David Bennett, Chairman of Sotheby’s International Jewellery Division and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Switzerland, said: “It is difficult to put into words the excitement of holding between thumb and forefinger a gem discovered centuries ago, knowing it originated in the legendary Golconda diamond mines of India. This stone has witnessed 300 years of European history, and in colour is reminiscent of historic Golconda blue gems such as the Hope diamond.”.



    Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

    Portrait of Maria Susanna Ormsby by Hugh Douglas Hamilton RHA (1734-1808)  UPDATE: THIS MADE 26,000 AT HAMMER

    The Spring Sale of Important Irish Art at James Adam in Dublin on March 27 will offer a range of work from the 18th century to the present day. One of the earliest is a rediscovered portrait by Hugh Douglas Hamilton, arguably this country’s most important portraitist, of Maria Susanna Ormsby, daughter of the MP for Sligo William Ormsby.  This painting re-emerged in the dispersal of the Harlech Collection in Wales a year ago and is now estimated at 25,000-35,000.

    A Paul Henry, Looking Towards Achill from the East of Achill Sound, is estimated at 40,000-60,000. There are two large works by Tony O’Malley and two by John Shinnors from  very different periods.  The mid 20th century Northern Irish School is well represented by artists like Colin Middleton and Dan O’Neill which William Conor’s 1923 work Water Buckets is estimated at 20,000-30,000.  The catalogue is online and features 123 works.


    Monday, March 19th, 2018

    Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) – Portrait of a bearded Venetian nobleman, bust length.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £5,416,400

    A rare portrait by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) will spearhead Sotheby’s Old Masters sale in London on July 4. Unseen on the market for 60 years, this remarkable depiction of a Venetian Nobleman was almost certainly cherished by the artist who kept it until his death in 1640. Acquired by the great Dutch collector Hans Wetzlar in the early 1950’s it has remained in the possession of his descendants ever since.

    Painter, designer, print-maker, sculptor, architect, diplomat, peace-treaty broker, at the helm of the largest studio of his time, Rubens was the first great artist-collector in Northern Europe and the fact that he almost certainly owned the present portrait until his death is testament to its importance.

    George Gordon, Worldwide Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Department, said: “Rubens is known as the “Prince of the painters” and his legacy is far reaching. His timeless modernity and immediacy is evident in this painting which encapsulates several strands of his creative, emotional and intellectual life. With its bravura brushwork which shows no hint of hesitancy, this is a portrait of a man as real to us as he was in the artist’s mind. Almost 400 years after being created, this is a painting that gives the viewer immense pleasure, and one in which we can feel Rubens’ own joy in creating it.”

    Painted in the 1620’s this is one of only a few portraits by the artist to come on the market in recent years. It is estimated in the region of £3 million.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £5,416,400


    Sunday, March 18th, 2018
    All roads lead to Limerick this Bank Holiday weekend for the National Antiques Fair – billed as Ireland’s biggest – at the South Court Hotel on March 18 and 19.  No matter what your area of interest – antique furniture, jewellery, silver, art, Oriental porcelain, collectibles of every sort – there is bound to be more than enough to whet the appetite from the display on offer.
    This flagship fair features nearly 100 antique shops, dealers, art galleries and vintage dealers.  Among them are various members of the Irish Antique Dealers Association.
    There is a large assembly of dealers from Dublin like James Weldon, Danker Antiques, IADA and Matthew Weldon and throughout the country like Treasures Irish Art, Athlone, porecelain dealer Brian Hurley of Kinsale and antique furniture from William Harnett of Newcastlewest to name but a few.  Underlining the importance of collectibles the Hunt Museum maintains a presence at this fair.  There promises to be something for everyone with prices in all ranges.

    Victorian dining table and chairs

    A 19th century Chinese export covered dish