Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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  • Archive for April, 2019


    Friday, April 19th, 2019

    An example of Modigliani’s defining work as a sculptor comes up at Christie’s in New York in May. The limestone Tete, carved c1911-12, is among the finest examples of the approximately twenty-six carved stones that defined Modigliani’s sculptural output, and one of the last left in private hands. Estimated at $30-40 million it comes up at the New York evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art. It is from a European private collection.

    Amedeo Modigliani,Tête UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $34.3 MILLION


    Friday, April 19th, 2019

    A live shell from 1895 found in a suitcase sent for auction in Ballybrittas, Co. Laois was removed by gardai and bomb disposal experts. It was in one of four suitcases of historical memorabilia. Auctioneer Sean Eacrett noticed the live shell with primer and head still intact. The cases had been bought in a jumble sale more than 35 years ago and had remained in the attic at Marshalltown Cottage, Castledermott, Co. Kildare until last week. The entire contents of the cottage go under the hammer at Ballybrittas on April 27.

    The live shell


    Thursday, April 18th, 2019

    The Irish and International art sale by Morgan O’Driscoll at the RDS on April 29 has been on view both in London and, for the first time, New York. The auctioneer has worked very hard over many years to enhance the international base of collectors of Irish art so it will be of great interest to see if the trip Stateside bears fruit in the way that various viewings in London have added a new dimension to these sales.

    Danish model and photographer Helena Christensen was among those who attended the New York viewing. The painting in the background is Isobel by Daniel O’Neill. UPDATE: THE O’NEILL PORTRAIT SOLD FOR 33,000 AT HAMMER


    Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

    A painting from Claude Monet’s iconic Haystacks series will highight Sotheby’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York on May 14. Meules from 1890 is one of only four works from the series to come to auction this century and one of eight in private hands.  The other 17 examples reside in the distinguished collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Musée d’Orsay, Paris and, perhaps most notably, six in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. It is estimated to sell for more than US$55 million.


    Notre Dame de Paris in flames

    Monday, April 15th, 2019

    As Notre Dame de Paris is in flames this evening it is not possible to say what treasures within have survived the blaze. It is known at this stage that firefighters managed to evacuate some pieces. The Rose Window and other stained glass treasures seem to have survived and the fate of the Pieta, or The Descent from the Cross by Nicolas Coustou, in the choir of the cathedral, is unknown but that part of the floor seems to be intact. The building is an icon of global gothic architecture. The 12th century gothic spire collapsed but the two towers survived. President Macron has vowed that it will be rebuilt.

    The Descent from the Cross by Nicolas Coustou in the choir at Notre Dame with stained glass panels in the background


    Monday, April 15th, 2019

    An Irish Library – the sale at James Adam in Dublin at noon next on April 17 – reflects the sort of weird and wonderful idea of the library in an Irish country house.  This is as repository for all sorts of exotica.  This  interesting sale offers a range of books, furniture, art, taxidermy and militaria. Ten coloured engravings by Giovanni Ottaviani of Raphael’s Loggia, an outstanding pair of celestial and terrestrial globes, a pair of Irish carved side tables, a magnificent George II secretaire and a Killarney davenport are among the prime lots  There is art by Richard Carver, Edwin Hayes and Erskine Nicol and taxidermy includes  antlers, a wild boar, a lion and a bear cub. The catalogue is online.

    A pair of George IV celestial and terrestrial globes by Newton UPDATE: THESE MADE 30,000 AT HAMMER


    Sunday, April 14th, 2019

    With everything from a portrait of Lord Tracton to the Dennis silver tray which recounts in Victorian detail the sterling efforts of a magistrate in Wicklow to repress insubordination along the borders of Wicklow, Carlow and Kildare in 1822 the Fortgranite house contents sale by Fonsie Mealy  next Tuesday offers much to tempt collectors.  Among more than 850 lots are a Qing Dynasty cabinet, war medals from both World Wars, a Boer war letter from Winston Churchill and a Qing Dynasty cabinet.  Fortgranite in Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow was the home of the Dennis family for three centuries.  They were originally Swifts, related to Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick’s, satirist and creator of Gulliver’s Travels, who changed their name to inherit an estate at Tracton in Cork. This inheritance was highlighted on these pages last Saturday through lot 428, letters patent on vellum from King George III granting the title Baron Tracton to James Dennis, son of a timber merchant of Kinsale, who died childless in 1782.The lavishly decorated Dennis silver tray, made in Dublin in 1822, was presented by local bigwigs to Thomas Stratford Dennis:  ” ….  for his conspicuous Zeal and active intrepidity as a Magistrate of their County And for his successful exertions in repressing the spirit of insubordination and contempt for the Laws which prevailed along the borders of the Counties of Wicklow Carlow and Kildare in the year 1822″.  That year marked an ongoing economic slump following the end of the Napoleonic Wars, a disastrous potato crop failure and agrarian unrest.Lot 358 is a tooled gilt binding published in London in 1741 and estimated at 1,000-1,500. By Lewis Riccoboni it is an historical account of the Italian, Spanish, French, English, Dutch, Flemish and German theatres.  The carved hardwood Qing Dynasty cabinet, purchased in Hong Kong, is estimated at 2,000-3,000. A portrait of Esther Johnson in the style of James Latham is estimated at 7,000-10,000.  She was Dean Swift’s Stella and rumoured to have been his wife.

    UPDATE: The sale realised 660,000 on the hammer and was 95% sold. The top lot was an Irish George II hunt table which made 25,000 at hammer.

    A 1741 edition of the history of theatres in Europe UPDATE: THIS MADE 620 AT HAMMER: THE DENNIS SILVER TRAY SOLD FOR 12,000


    Friday, April 12th, 2019

    The Cell Door, Robben Island, by Nelson Mandela comes up at Bonhams in New York on May 2. The wax pastel crayon artwork created in 2002 was one of the few kept by the statesman for his personal collection. Inherited by his daughter Dr. Pumla Makaziwe Mandela it comes up at the Modern and Contemporary African Art sale with an estimate of $60,000-90,000.

    After his official retirement in 1999 the former President of South Africa turned to art as a therapeutic activity that helped him express and reflect on his tumultuous life. In 2002 he created 22 sketches about his 27 year-long incarceration, focusing on images he found symbolically and emotionally powerful. Ten of these original drawings were then reproduced as editions of lithographs for the seriesMy Robben Island (2002) and Reflections of Robben Island (2003). These sets did not include The Cell Door, which was regarded as a deeply personal image and one that he wanted to keep for himself.

    Nelson Mandela, The Cell Door, Robben Island, 2002


    Thursday, April 11th, 2019

    More than 600 books and manuscripts lost during the Second World War were today returned to Bonn University in Germany. The repatriation was facilitated by Sotheby’s. The books were discovered in a Belgian private collection. This is one of the largest single returns of objects lost during the war. Among them are numerous historical works of high cultural and material importance, including medieval and modern manuscripts, medieval documents, historical maps, early 15th-century prints, rare prints of the 16th century and numerous colored bird books. The most valuable bird book is Audobon’s The Birds of America.

    How exactly the books and manuscripts found their way to Belgium is not known. It is possible that they were taken by Belgian soldiers in the years after the war. Curator of Manuscripts and Historic Books at ULB, Dr. Michael Herkenhoff said: Many valuable volumes were stored between 1946 and 1950 in a bunker in Bonn. They may have been stolen during the period of the Belgian occupation in Bonn.”

    Charlotte Miller, Specialist in Books and Manuscripts at Sotheby’s in London explained that in 2017 a large collection of books was offered to Sotheby’s from a private collection in Belgium. Many had their library stamps expunged, bindings removed or title pages destroyed. Sotheby’s set out to discovered the true provenance of the library. The medieval manuscripts were listed on Bonn University’s Inventory of Losses.

    Left: A manuscript of the “Comoediae” of Terenz, written in the 13th century

    Centre: Book of Hours, Use of Rome, in Latin [southern Netherlands (Bruges), c.1460-70

    Right: John James Audubon, The Birds of America from drawings made in the United States, printed in New York between 1840 and 1844 in 7 volumes


    Thursday, April 11th, 2019

    NO less than six jerseys endorsed by French footballer Paul Pogba, the shoes he used during the World Cup’s final in 2018 and an official Champions’ league ball signed by the player will come up at a charity auction at Christie’s Paris on April 29. It is for Les étoiles de la source which promotes integration and reintegration through sport. The newly created association wants to improve the lives of 12 to 25 year olds from disadvantaged neighbourhoods through sport and cultural events.