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


    Thursday, May 16th, 2019

    Jeff Koons’ Rabbit sculpture sold for $91.1 million at Christie’s in New York last night, a new world record price for a living artist. The steel cast of an inflatable created in 1986 made more than $20 million over the top estimate.

    Jeff Koons (b1955) – Rabbit

    The Post War and Contemporary Art evening sale brought in $538,971,750. There were 56 lots offered and 51 were sold. Koons’ Rabbit and Robert Rauschenberg’s Buffalo II ($88.8 million) were the two top lots of the auction. Spider by Louise Bourgeois sold for $32,055,000 million, a world auction record and the second highest price at auction for a woman artist.

    There were world auction records for Koons’, Rauschenberg, Bourgeois, Frank Stella, Larry Rivers, Jonas Wood and Daniel Buren. Koons previously held the record for a work by a living artist with Balloon Dog (Orange). Last year the honour went to David Hockney Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) which sold for just over $90 million.

    (See post on for March 27, 2019)


    Wednesday, May 15th, 2019

    There was a world record for Monet at Sotheby’s in New York last night when Meules (Haystacks) sold for $110.7 million. This is the first work of Impressionist art to break the $100 million barrier and is 44 times the price achieved when Meules last sold at auction in 1986.

    The scene at the auction room

    A total of 13 works of Impressionism achieved $160 million – nearly half of the auction total of $333.2 million. Another highlight was Gustave Caillebotte’s La Rue Halévy, vue du sixième étage from 1878, which well-exceeded its $8 million high estimate to sell for $13.9 million.

    Helena Newman, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Impressionist & Modern Art, said: “Tonight we saw a great depth of impassioned bidding from around the globe, fueled by works long-cherished in private collections.  Nearly two-thirds of the lots offered tonight had never before appeared at auction, and the market responded enthusiastically – helping us to achieve our highest total since 2015, and our second consecutive evening sale with a sell-through rate over 90%. With the record-breaking Monet leading the charge, the Impressionist and Modern market is as strong as it has ever been in my more than 30 years in this business.”

    (See posts on for April 16 and May 7, 2019)


    Monday, May 13th, 2019

    Photographic works including images of Irish travellers by the pioneering photographer Charles Harry Hewitt (1915-1987) will come up at Chiswick Auctions Photographica sale in London on May 16.

    Irish Travellers, Dublin c1950’s.

    Known as ‘Slim Hewitt’, due to his slender frame, he led the way in reportage photography at The Picture Post and on the BBC’s Tonight programme. His fly on the wall style photography and filming has been described by those that knew him as having “the drive and ability to bring the world and its events before its audience.” Starting out as a war photographer, taking photos of the Normandy landings and the inside of Belsen Prisoner of war camp, ‘Slim’ had a unique ability to retain all nuances of a situation and encapsulate them in his work.


    Monday, May 13th, 2019

    A set of Finn Juhl chairs designed in 1946 for the Copenhagen Cabinetmakers Guild exhibition and which were used as boardroom chairs at the Gowan Group in Ballsbridge come up at de Veres design auction in Dublin on May 19.

    One of a number of pairs of chairs by Finn Juhl  UPDATE: THREE LOTS OF TWO CHAIRS MADE HAMMER PRICES OF 11,000, 11,500 AND 11,500 RESPECTIVELY.

    This is a pop up auction of 180 lots of classic design furniture and lighting, 250 lots of contemporary Irish art and wines from the 2005 Bordeaux vintage. Danish and Italian pieces from the 1950’s, ’60’s and ’70’s are included along with work by Arne Jacobsen, Eileen Gray, Florence Knoll, Willy Rizzo, Cini Boeri and Pierre Paulin with furniture by Bo Concept and Ligne Roset.   There is art by Patrick Scott, Michael Farrell, Neil Shawcross and the balance of The Axa Art collection sold last year by de Veres.    The 93 cases of en primeur wine are to be sold in a timed auction with bidding up to 8 pm on May 19.  The auction at 2 pm on May 19 takes place at 35 Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin. The catalogue is online.

    An Italian triennale floor lamp attributed to Angelo Lelli UPDATE: THIS FAILED TO SELL


    Sunday, May 12th, 2019

    This 1887 work by Paul Gauguin, Chemin sous les palmiers comes up at Sotheby’s evening sale in New York on May 14. It is one of a series completed by Gauguin on his trip to the Caribbean island of Martinique from June to November of 1887.  This was his initial experience as an artist in an island environment.  Enthralled by the tropical landscape and native people Gauguin’s strong desire for a life outside Europe was born in Martinique.  The paintings he created there foreshadowed the works he would later complete in Tahiti. He departed for Polynesia in 1891. This work from the Levy family collection of Dallas is estimated at $6-8 million.


    Saturday, May 11th, 2019

    With just 129 pieces the Masterworks auction at Sbeppards in Durrow on May 16 is short on lots but long on interest.  The selection on offer is wide ranging and estimates vary from 140-180 for a first period Belleek basket to 35,000-45,000 for a signed watercolour head of Samuel Beckett by Louis le Brocquy which has been on loan to the University of Limerick for the last ten years.

    19th century Italian ebony pietra dura and ormolu cabinet on stand

    The sale kicks off with a 12 bottle case of 2006  Chateau Mouton Rothschild estimated at 3,500-4,500. It then ranges through a 19th century French ormolu clock garniture, an early Persian sword, Art Deco bronzes, a 2002 model Steinway boudoir grand piano, a Venetian violin to a Killarney work table. There are some Old Master paintings and a 19th century Italian cabinet on stand with Pietra Dura inserts estimated at 35,000-45,000. There are Meissen parrots, French panels, an 18th century Chippendale pier mirror, a Chinese rosewood screen, a pair of Venetian blackamoor figures and an early Sino-Tibetan bronze buddha.The catalogue cover lot is a Chinese Qing gilt bronze and polychrome censer in the form of a foo dog with an estimate of 15,000-20,000. The catalogue is online.

    Chinese Qing censer in the form of a foo dog UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 95,000


    Thursday, May 9th, 2019

    A girls best friend and more will come under the hammer at the James Adam sale of fine jewellery and watches in Dublin at 6 p.m. on May 14. The two most expensive lots in this auction are single stone diamond rings each estimated at 20,000-30,000. A c2000 cultured pearl and diamond Pushkin cocktail bracelet watch by Chopard is estimated at 20,000-25,000.

    A single stone brilliant cut diamond ring UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 20,000

    Adams jewellery specialist Claire-Laurence Mestrallet invited the fashion editor, stylist and author Annmarie O’Connor to go through the catalogue.  At the top of her wish list was an original 1930’s minaudiere or strapless evening back with an Art Deco vibe.  By Van Cleef and Arpels and with a diamond and ruby lid it is estimated at 15,000-20,000.  Many famous makers are represented in this auction, for which the catalogue is online.

    UPDATE: The sale brought in 810,000 with a sell rate of over 70%. The top lot was a c1955 gold and diamond coffee bean demi-parure by Cartier which made 34,000.

    A diamond and ruby set evening bag by Van Cleef and Arpels UPDATE: THIS MADE 18,000 AT HAMMER


    Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

    Nurses (1953) by Nevill Johnson which comes up at Whyte’s sale of Important Irish Art in Dublin on May 27 is one of his few surviving paintings of the 1952-53 period. In a catalogue note Dickon Hall notes that the artist’s affection for Dublin was that of an outsider, an Englishman who had lived in Belfast for twelve years before moving there in 1946 in response to becoming one of the group of young artists whom Victor Waddington put under contract to his gallery. Hall writes: “This group of nurses relaxing in a garden suggests a specific experience seen and recalled by the artist, but by reducing each figure to their uniform Johnson emphasises the abstract formal arrangements within the composition, as well as creating a dreamlike quality that is reinforced by a muted palette lifted by unexpected pink tones”. Hall adds: “Nurses is a painting that balances satisfying aesthetic qualities with the surreal incongruity that Johnson recalled so nostalgically from his Dublin years and creates an ambiguous and mysterious mood that seems to define the elusive tone of the post-war world”. It is estimated at 10,000-15,000.


    The sale will include works by George Barret, William Leech, Sir John Lavery, William Orpen, George Russell (“AE”), Jack Yeats, Paul Henry, Lilian Lucy Davidson, Frank McKelvey, James Humbert Craig, Laurence Stephen Lowry, Colin Middleton, Louis le Brocquy, Basil Blackshaw, Hughie O’Donoghue and others.


    Tuesday, May 7th, 2019

    With the May art sales in New York fast approaching Christie’s and Sotheby’s are gearing up for an important selling season.  On May 13 Christie’s will offer a dedicated selection of 11 works from Princess Titi von Furstenberg, who died in 2006, in its evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art.The collection of more than 30 artworks ranges from Pablo Picasso to Mark Rothko, Andre Derain and Lucio Fontana.  Further lots will be offered in the day sale on May 14, the Post War and Contemporary Art sale on May 16 and in a Paris sale of African Art next October.  Born in Houston in 1919 Titi von Furstenberg’s father was Robert Lee Blaffer, founder of the company now known as Exxon Mobile.  Her maternal grandfather William Thomas Campbell was among the founders of Texas Oil, now known as Texaco. Amadeo Modigliani’s limestone sculpture Tete carved c1911-12 in the same sale is estimated at $30-40 million. This is one of the 26 pieces that defined his sculptural output and one of the last in private hands. Modigliani’s oil portrait of his muse Lunia Czechowska from the collection of Drue Heinz (1915-2018), the English born wife of Jack Heinz of the food empire, is in the sale as is a 1939 work by Balthus, Therese sur une banquette estimated at $12-18 million.  Therese was just 14 when she posed for this piece, one of ten portraits in which she featured reading or doing nothing but dreaming all painted between 1936 and 1939.One of the finest examples of Monet’s series known as Haystacks will come up at Sotheby’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on May 14.  The series if famous for the way in which the artist repeated the same subject to show the effects of different light and atmosphere at different times of the day, across the seasons and in different weather.  Meules from 1890 is one of only eight from the series of 25 works remaining in private hands. Sotheby’s expected it to sell for more than $55 million.This sale features important works by Gustave Caillebotte, Pierre Bonnard, Pablo Picasso, Francis Picabia and Marc Chagall.The Contemporary Art evening auction on May 16 will be highlighted by Mark Rothko’s Untitled 1960 from the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. This sale is further distinguished by Francis Bacon’s Study for a Head from 1952 and by the same artist’s Study for a Portrait, 1981, the last of his famous portraits of his love and muse George Dyer.

    Amadeo Modigliani – Lunia Czechowska from the collection of Drue Heinz at Christie’s. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $25,245,000

    Francis Bacon – Study for a Portrait 1981 at Sotheby’s. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $14.5 MILLION


    Saturday, May 4th, 2019

    This image is of a c1905 mourning locket and a late 19th century citrine seal. From an Irish family it comes up at Chiswick Auctions jewellery sale in London on May 14.   The sale contains mourning jewellery from the Bligh and Brownlow families of Co. Meath.

    John Bligh, Fourth Earl of Darnley (1767-1831) was an Irish peer and cricketer who took part in 27 first-class cricket matches between 1789 and 1796.  His wife was Elizabeth Brownlow and they had seven children.  Mourning jewellery was popular in Georgian and Victorian times. Georgian jewellery featured skulls, coffins and other symbols of death. This changed in Victorian times to memory pieces often containing hair of the dead person.  The locket and seal here are estimated at £80-120.