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


    Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

    This Maltese School painting by G. d’Esposito depicts “H.M.S. Hibernia,” docked in Valletta Harbour surrounded by rowing boats. It comes up at Fonsie Mealy’s summer sale in Castlecomer on July 23 with an estimate of 2,000-3,000. This is one of a number of works from the collection of Admiral Charles Beresford, second son of the 4th Marquis of Waterford, who had a long and distinguished naval career in which he rescued the Khartoum Expeditionary Force sent to relieve General Gordon. HMS Hibernia was a 110-gun first rate ship of the line, launched in 1804 – the only ship of her draught – and sold for breaking up in 1902. In 1807-08 she led the British escort that carried the Portuguese royal family and court to Brazil just days before the French attacked Lisbon. From 1816 to 1855 she was the flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet; thereafter she was the flagship of the Royal Navy’s base at Malta. Beresford, who died in 1919 and received a ceremonial funeral at St. Paul’s Cathedral, served briefly on her as a midshipman in 1863 while awaiting passage home.



    Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

    No summer antique auction would be complete without a pair of proper cast iron benches.  Woodwards will have a fine Coalbrookdale example at their sale in Cork on July 20. The selection of antiques on offer ranges from a Vienna wall clock to a Regency teapot and a Georgian bachelor’s chest estimated respetively at  600-1,000, 400-800 and 300-500. The auction will feature chairs, mirrors, silver and collectibles. The Coalbrookdale benches are estimated at 1,200-2,000 and a five piece cast iron garden suite is estimated at 800-1,200. 

    Georgian bachelors chest


    Monday, July 15th, 2019

    A glamorous three day Hollywood auction celebrating the luxurious lifestyle and singular career of Elizabeth Taylor will preview in County Kildare in September.  On offer at Julien’s Auctions of Los Angeles is a spectacular collection of iconic fashion, film costumes and accessories by designers Yves St. Laurent, Valentino, Versace, Gucci, Dior and others. Enhancing the sense of retro luxury is an exhibition preview of the collection which is to set sail on a transatlantic voyage from Southhampton to New York on Cunards Queen Mary 2 on October 18. There will be an auction preview at the Museum of Style Icons in Newbridge from September 2 to October 31. A second exhibition is to be held at The Standard Oil Building, Beverly Hills, early in December.  The live and online auction runs from December 6 to December 8. Highlights include Agathon Leonard, a gilt bronze c1901 lamp featuring Loie Fuller, the sensational American dancer at the Folies-Bergre in Paris ($15,000-20,000);  the blue chiffon evening gown designed by Edith Head and worn by Taylor to the 1974 Academy Awards ($4,000-6,000); a group of three silk Persian rugs from Taylor’s Gstaad residence ($4,000-6,000);  a black and white leopardskin print pantsuit design by Mirsa (Marchesa Olga di Gresy) and worn in the 1970 film The Only Game in Town ($3,000-5,000); a New York Yankees jacket from a Vogue photo shoot in Paris in 1974 by photographer Bruce Weber ($2,000-4,000); a silver studded Versace leather biker jacket worn by Taylor for her appearance on the Johnny Carson show ($4,000-6,000);  an Yves St. Laurent poncho and jersey ensemble from the 1965 film The Sandpiper ($2,000-3,000);   a green wool felt cape by Franca, London (Baroness Stael von Holstein) worn to Buckingham Palace for Richard Burton’s investiture ($6,000-8,000);  a Loro Piana brown cashmere wrap worn to the AIDS candlelit march in Washington in 1996 and several sterling table pieces including two Gorham salt and pepper sets with “ET” monograms;  four Cartier napkin rings and an Asprey sterling Kiwi bird bottle stopper.The three time Academy Award winning actress whose epic romances, marriages and jet setting lifestyle were a source of enduring fascination had a discriminating eye. A successful businesswoman she possessed one of the most important private jewellery collections in the world.  In 1963 when she played the title role of Cleopatra she was the first actor to command a million dollars for her performance.  And she was a philanthropist.  Julien’s Auctions produces high profile sales in the film, music, sports and art markets.  The Irish connection is through its co-owner and executive director, Athlone born and reared Martin Nolan, a former Wall Street stockbroker.

     A gilt-bronze lamp featuring Loie Fuller, circa 1901, signed “A. Leonard/ S-cld”.
    A chiffon evening gown designed by Edith Head and worn by Elizabeth Taylor to the 1974 Academy Awards.


    Sunday, July 14th, 2019

    This early mezzotint portrait of Mrs. Elizabeth Aldworth (1695-1775) in full masonic robes comes up at Fonsie Mealy’s summer auction in Castlecomer on July 23.  Born Elizabeth St. Leger and famous in her time as The Lady Freemason she was the first recorded woman to be initiated into Freemasonry.  Daughter of the 1st Viscount Doneraile she witnessed a meeting of the freemasons in her fathers house at Doneraile Court.  Now newly opened to the public after refurbishment by the OPW, Doneraile Court in Co. Cork was also refurbished in the late 18th century and loose bricks in a wall of the room where the masons met enabled the young Elizabeth to see what was going on.  The portrait was published in 1811 by S. Kennedy of Patrick St, Cork and sold by Bro. R. Spencer, Masonic Booksellers, London. It is in a Hogarth type frame with a printed “Biographical Memoir of The Hon. Mrs. Aldworth of Newmarket, Co. Cork” framed on the back.  Mrs. Aldworth was buried in the old St. Fin Barres Cathredal in Cork and there is a plaque near her remains in the present cathedral.  The print is estimated at 300-500.



    Friday, July 12th, 2019

    Parc des Princes, a monumental masterpiece by Nicolas de Staël comes up at Christie’s in Paris on October 17 during FIAC (the International Contemporary Art Fair) with an estimate of 18-25 million. The work has remained in the family of Nicolas de Staël since his passing in 1955, and constitutes a key element in the history of post-war art.

    Completed in 1952 the painting is the zenith of a series of soccer players which the artist completed after attending a France Sweden match with his wife in March of that year in the renowned Parisian stadium.

    Parc des Princes by Nicolas de Staël


    Friday, July 12th, 2019

    The Moon and Beyond, Meteorites from the Stifler Collection is open for bidding at an online sale at Christie’s until July 25. Estimates range from $700 to $350,000. The sale is led by a natural sculpture from outer space – the outstanding aesthetic iron Gibeon Meteorite ($250,000 – 350,000) is draped in a variegated gunmetal-hued patina with ochre accents. Like most iron meteorites, Gibeon meteorites were formed 4.5 billion years ago within the molten core of an asteroid whose shattered remains are part of the asteroid belt.

    The Stifler Collection boasts the six largest lunar meteorites on Earth. The vast majority of the collection is being donated to the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum; offered in this auction are duplicates and cuttings taken from specimens being enhanced for display. Proceeds will be donated to the Museum, a land trust created by Stifler & McFadden and other charities supported by the Stifler family.


    Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

    The Beatles’ original management contract with Brian Epstein was sold at Sotheby’s London today for £275,000. Signed by the band on 24 January 1962 the old piece of paper marked the beginning of the transformation of The Beatles into a band that would conquer the world.

    Manager Brian Epstein’s signature is conspicuously absent from this contract. He chose not to sign it, meaning that, whilst this contract bound Epstein to the Beatles, it did not bind The Beatles to Epstein. He explained: “It was because even though I knew I would keep the contract in every clause, I had not 100 per cent faith in myself to help the Beatles adequately. In other words, I wanted to free the Beatles of their obligations if I felt they would be better off.”

    A a collection of material relating to The Fab Four’s legendary performances in Hamburg sold for a combined £66,625. The city had become instrumental in the development of the British rock and roll scene by chance, thanks to a Liverpool club owner who ended up exporting English rock and roll bands to German bars. The Beatles had been going there since 1960, and performed at the Star-Club, the city’s leading rock venue managed by Horst Fascher. Two performance contracts for The Beatles at The Star-Club sold for £35,000 and £18,750 respectively. A collection of photographs and further materials relating to the Star Club sold for £11,875, many multiples of the estimate of £2,000-3,000.



    Sunday, July 7th, 2019

     The 50th anniversary of mans first landing on the moon on July 20, 1969 falls this month.  Christie’s is marking the occasion with One Giant Leap, an auction celebrating space exploration 50 years after Apollo 11.   The highlight of the sale, which takes place in New York on July 18, is the Apollo 11 Lunar Module Timeline Book  used by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to navigate the lunar module Eagle onto the surface of the moon.  It includes traces of moon dust and almost 150 handwritten annotations including Lunar Module Eagle’s coordinates on the lunar surface within moments of landing, marking the first writing by a human being on an extraterrestrial body.  This writing is illustrated in the image here.  The book is estimated at $7-9 million.  The sale will include nearly 200 artefacts from NASA missions of the Sixties and Seventies including the Gemini and Apollo programmes.


    Thursday, July 4th, 2019

    The controversial Egyptian brown quartzite head of Tutankamen as the God Amen sold at Christie’s London this evening for £4,746,250. The Egyptian government foreign ministry claimed that it was probably stolen from an Egyptian temple during the 1970’s. Christies said they had not received any evidence from the Egyptian authorities about a problem and that they would not auction an object about which there were legitimate concerns. They published a chronology of the owners for the past 50 years.

    Christie’s stated: “This was a rare, beautiful and important work. We recognise that historic objects can raise complex discussions about the past; yet our role today is to work to continue to provide a transparent, legitimate marketplace upholding the highest standards for the transfer of objects. There is an honourable market for ancient art and we believe it is in the public interest that works come out into the open with the opportunity for them to be researched, as well as seen and enjoyed by global audiences.”

    The present lot was acquired from Heinz Herzer, a Munich-based dealer in 1985. Prior to this, Joseph Messina, an Austrian dealer, acquired it in 1973-74 from Prinz Wilhelm von Thurn und Taxis who reputedly had it in his collection by the 1960s.

    The brown quartzite piece is 11 inches high.


    Thursday, July 4th, 2019

    En route between shows in London and New York a 25 year retrospective of Cork born London based photographer David Magee opens at the Lavit Gallery today.  Magee, whose fine art photography is in international collections,  studied at the Crawford and the Glasgow School of Art and Design. The exhibition “Outside” presents 32 limited edition photographs utilising the elements he is most at home with, earth, water and air.  “In my photographs there is no real sense of time or specific place” Magee said. “The location is totally secondary to the feeling. The feeling is everything. I aim to portray not just what exists, but what is not obvious; that imperceptible element that stirs emotion and a sense of contemplation”.  Shown here is his remarkable photograph Kilbrittain I.  The exhibition runs until July 20.