Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
  • About Des
  • Contact
  • Archive for January, 2019


    Thursday, January 10th, 2019

    A silver presentation given to Gustav Wilhelm Wolff (1834-1913), one of the founders of the Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast, comes up at an auction in Surrey next February 27.  Presented in 1911, a year before Titanic set sail from the shipyard, it comes up at Catherine Southon’s sale at Farleigh Court Golf Club at Selsdon in England.  Wolff served as a Belfast Harbour Commissioner and founded Belfast Ropeworks in the early 1870’s. Like Edward Harland he served as a member of parliament for Belfast East from 1892 to 1910. In 1911 he was awarded the freedom of Belfast.

    UPDATE:  The silver casket sold for £9,728 over a top estimate of £3,000.


    Wednesday, January 9th, 2019

    The 65th edition of New York’s winter antiques show, renamed this year as The Winter Show because this is how everyone refers to it, runs at the Park Avenue Armoury from January 18-27.   The range is from ancient art, antiquity through to the classical and the contemporary.  Around 70 leading US and European dealers will attend New York’s longest running antiques fair.  The show reflects the current trend towards cross collecting and in the past two years contemporary design has been allowed in the show.  This can be seen alongside the best examples of period furniture. The focus is on quality, all items are vetted and there is a thrust this year to attract new young collectors.  Here are some special antique furniture examples:

    Apter-Fredericks of London will show this exceptional pair of Chinese export Pembroke tables

    A lift-top chest attributed to Johannes Mayer (1794-1883), Mahantongo Valley, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, dated 1841, to be exhibited by Olde Hope of New Hope, PA. 


    Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

    Janet Mullarney – Lenience (paesaggio di compassione)

    The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is one venue in this country where the focus is on the shock of the new.  At IMMA in 2019 there will be landmark solo exhibitions by Derek Jarman (UK), Doris Salcedo (Columbia), Walker and Walker (Ireland), Kim Gordon  (US) and a show that places Lucian Freud and Jack B. Yeats side by side. Two solo displays by Irish artists Fergus Martin and Janet Mullarney will be presented as part of the IMMA Collection Then and Now series with work from the 1990’s to the present.

    Martin elicits geometric forms that give space to his preoccupations with space, colour, tension and materials through painting, sculpture and photography. The multiplicity of Janet Mullarney’s career will be displayed in a wide ranging body of work which focuses on the importance she places on materials and the meanings they convey in sculpture. An international group exhibition exploring desire in art from the 20th century to the digital age completes a busy series of upcoming events at IMMA.


    Monday, January 7th, 2019
    The 350th anniversary of Rembrandt’s birth falls this year and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will mark it with a series of exhibitions and special events. Celebrations kick off on February 15 when the museum will present for the first time an exhibition of all 22 paintings, 60 drawings and more than 300 of the finest examples of Rembrandt’s prints in its collection. In July the public are invited to watch as the restoration of The Night Watch gets underway in a clear glass chamber designed by French architect Michel Wilmotte. A Rembrandt- Velazquez exhibition later in the year will showcase paintings by the two great masters of the 17th century.
    Rembrandt’s art embraces a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits and self-portraits to landscapes, genre scenes, allegorical and historical scenes, biblical and mythological themes as well as animal studies. His self portraits enable us to come to know him at all stages of his life. He made nearly 100 self portraits including over 40 paintings.  Here are two examples:

    Rembrandt Self Portrait c1628.

    Rembrandt Self Portrait wearing a soft hat (1632-36).


    Sunday, January 6th, 2019

    This painting of HMS Resolute in Search of Sir John Franklin recalls the search for the north west passage and British explorer Sir John Franklin. He had served in the Battle of Trafalgar and afterwards became one of the most famous names in Polar exploration. He set sail for the North Pole and thence into the Northwest passage from the Bering Strait, searching for a route which would connect trade between the Atlantic and Pacific via the Arctic. Franklin’s ships were last seen by a whaler off Baffin Bay in August 1845, and they had enough supplies to last until summer 1848 When painted by Francois Etienne Musin the explorer and his crew aboard HMS Erebus and Terror were understood to be in difficulty in the Canadian Arctic. Their whereabouts remained unknown. Led by the Admiralty and championed energetically by Lady Franklin numerous searches were conducted from Canada. In 1850 a squadron of four vessels commanded by HMS Resolute was dispatched, using dog sleds and even primitive hydrogen balloons with messages attached. Unbeknownst to those at home, Franklin had already died some three years earlier. Franklin’s expedition, the countless searches led to find him, and later the tragic fate that befell the men caught the imagination of the Romantic movement. The wrecks of Franklin’s ships were discovered in 2014 and 2016 off King William Island. As climate change disrupts ice in the Arctic, the North-West passage has today become navigable for small ships. The painting was sold for £100,000 at Sotheby’s in December.


    Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

    JMW Turner (1775-1851) – The Rialto Bridge, Venice

    JMW Turner (1775-1851) – The Doge’s Palace, Venice

    The THE annual January exhibition of Turner watercolours runs at the National Gallery of Ireland from New Year’s Day until the 31st of the month. Turner – The Vaughan Bequest opens alongside an exhibition of prints from the artist’s Liber Studiorum series comprising landscape and seascape exhibitions.

    Inspired by Claude Lorrain’s Liber Veritatis or book of truth – a series of drawings conceived as a record of his landscape paintings to prevent forgery –  Turner’s most ambitious publishing venture was the Liber Studiorum print series.  In contrst to Claude, the Liber Studiorum by Turner was a set of 71 original compositions aimed at elevating the status of landscape art.

    This printing project made Turner’s work accessible to a wider audience and served as an effective advertisement for his work. In 1903, the National Gallery of Ireland was presented with a complete set of Liber Studiorum prints by the Irish-born clergyman Stopford Augustus Brooke (1832-1916).

    In 1900 the National Gallery received a bequest of 31 Turner watercolours and drawings from English collector Henry Vaughan (1809-99).  In his will Vaughan divided his collection between the national galleries of London, Edinburgh and Dublin and stiplulated that the watercolours should be exhibited every year, free of charge, in January when natural light is at its most favourable for delicate watercolours.

    The works arrived in September 1900 in a custom made oak cabinet which is also on display this year.  They were first exhibited in January 1901. The Gallery continues to adhere to the conditions of the bequest and the collection remains in pristine condition.

    Born in 1775, Joseph Mallord William Turner began his career as a topographical artist.  The Vaughan Bequest at the National Gallery of Ireland is a representative collection of Turner’s work on paper. Highly finished works, engraved for various print series, hang side-by-side with evocative sketches from his annual tours of Switzerland and Italy.  The collection tracks Turner’s development as an artist and reveals his enthusiasm for landscape.   Illustrated are two of his Venice watercolours as a complement to the Canaletto exhibition also on now at the National Gallery.