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  • Archive for December, 2019


    Sunday, December 15th, 2019

    Bill Traylor’s Man on White, Woman on Red / Man with Black Dog (double-sided), from the collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Alice Walker comes up at Christie’s sale of Outsider Art sale in New York on January 17. The gift of a painting by an artist born into slavery was made by Steven Spielberg after the conclusion of filming The Color Purple, a film adaptation of Walker’s novel focused on the lives of African American womenb durin the 1930’s. It is estimated at $200,000 – 400,000.

    “I’ve enjoyed having this extraordinary artwork by Bill Traylor on my wall; but my spirit tells me that it is time for it to find a new home” Walker said.

    Born into slavery in 1853, self-taught artist Bill Traylor only began to make work in 1939, around the age of 86. Having spent his entire working life on plantations and farms, in 1928 he moved to the state capital of Montgomery, where he would begin to draw for the first time. Life in Montgomery proved difficult: although he sought employment, painful rheumatism left Traylor unable to work. With no income except a small public stipend, he became homeless, sleeping in the backroom of a funeral parlor at night, and spending the day camped out on the city’s Monroe Street. Daily life on Monroe Street, and his memories of plantations, inspired Traylor’s art. Working in pencil, tempera or colored pencil on repurposed card and paper, his subjects include people he saw on the street, animals and livestock, and found objects.

    Bill Traylor (1853-1949) . Man on White, Woman on Red / Man with Black Dog (double-sided), 1939-1942


    Saturday, December 14th, 2019

    An early subscriber edition of John James Audobon’s The Birds of America will be offered at a single lot sale at Sotheby’s in New York on December 18.  This remarkable work sought to depict every known species of bird in the United States at actual size.  Regarded as the most beautiful colour plate book ever published it features 435 hand coloured etched plates depicting 1,065 life-size birds representing 489 of the then known birds found in the US.  The monumental four volume double elephant folio at Sotheby’s is an unusually large and brilliantly coloured edition. Dating to 1827-1838  it is  known as the double elephant because of the size of paper that had to be specially made for the publication.   It is estimated at $6-8 million.



    Thursday, December 12th, 2019

    Jewellery, silver, a collection of antique glass, art, furniture and a wide variety of collectibles such as a Qing Dynasty Chinese jade miniature model of an elephant (100-150) will come under the hammer at the At Home sale at James Adam on December 15. The catalogue is online.

    A Qing Dynasty miniature model of an elephant. UPDATE: THIS MADE 100 AT HAMMER


    Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

    A set of signed First Editions by Cormac McCarthy from the collection of his late friend Dr. Philip Murray of Sligo made hammer prices of just under 40,000 at Fonsie Mealy’s rare books and manuscripts auction in Dublin today. There was 29 lots in total. An archive of letters and pre-publication copies by the Southern American novelist of Irish extraction, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and numerous other awards, made 7,000 on the hammer, a first edition of Blood Meridian signed and inscribed by the author made 4,200, a first UK edition together with an uncorrected proof of Outer Dark made 2,600 at hammer as did a signed and inscribed first edition of Suttree.

    The sale realised more than 350,000 on the hammer with 85% of lots finding buyers. The most expensive individual lot sold was The White Jug by Jack B Yeats which made 18,000 at hammer.

    (See post on for December 7, 2019)

    A signed archive complete with a photograph of Dr. Philip Murray and Cormac McCarthy in Sligo.


    Sunday, December 8th, 2019

    Works from an outstanding collector will come up at Christie’s An Exceptional Eye sale in Paris on December 10 and 11. The very private collector grew up in the French coungtryside and his interest in insects and minerals began at a very early age. As an adult, he would go on to collect wonders of the world including butterflies from Indonesia, fossils, meteorites, and an exceptional dinosaur skeleton. Classes in art and culture followed.

    For more than ten years he successfully indulged in the antiquarian profession but his adventurous soul pushed him towards new horizons. This aesthete and scholar was deeply moved by the quality of a marble panel by Léon Indenbaum or a cabinet by Gaston-Etienne Le Bourgeois, both realised for Jacques Doucet in 1913. He was also interested in works by the German expressionists, from August Macke to Egon Schiele, as well as the delicacy of Eileen Gray’s creations.

    Cécile Verdier, President of Christie’s France said: “It is an absolute joy for Christie’s to present this wonderful collection revealing the very private world of this discreet collector. A passionate character with a keen interest in all cultures, he wove very personal threads between the arts, in accordance with his specific tastes and his culture”.

    Jean-Louis Gaillemin, art historian remarked: “The bold presence of a rhinoceros skeleton in the middle of the living room has the effect of shattering the conventional and the customary; this staging, which fosters a surprising and powerful discourse between the objects, reveals the taste and interests of the master of the house”.

    UPDATE: The auction achieved a total of €12,502,438. The top lot was August Macke’s painting Badende Frauen (recto); Pierrot mit Tänzerpaar (verso) which was sold for €2,770,000, exceeding its high estimate.


    Saturday, December 7th, 2019

    An illuminated 1667 Charles II Charter detailing property grants in Cork city, minutes from an 1802 meeting of the Dublin Wide Streets Commissioners, a first edition of Ulysses, Republican documents from 1922-24 and Yeats family memorabilia are among a fascinating array of lots at Fonsie Mealy’s rare book sale at the Talbot Hotel, Stillorgan on December 10. The catalogue – in itself worthy of a long, slow browse because of all the avenues of exploration it opens up – list 842 lots.

    The sale includes the Cormac McCarthy collection of the recently deceased Dr. Philip Murray of Sligo which spans lot 712-740.  Dr. Murray, whose extraordinary collection of first editions made 275,000 at a Fonsie Mealy sale in 2016, maintained a friendship with the Pulitzer Prize winning American novelist, author and screenwriter and the catalogue contains a photo of the pair of them taken in Sligo.

    The catalogue cover is Edward Bunting’s 1840 work The Ancient Music of Ireland arranged for piano forte, there is a fascinating archive of almost 500 Quaker letters in Ireland between 1770 and 1830 and signed first editions by many famous authors. Lot 481 is John T. Gilbert’s 1874-1884 Account of Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland from the earliest specimens to AD 719 in  four volumes. It contains some documents which were destroyed when the Public Records Office was burned down in 1922. The illuminated Charles II Charter was published to satisfy demands of the 49 officers who served in the royalist army in Ireland, remained loyal to the king and were not granted lands by the Cromwellian government.  It lists property in Cork city  held by catholics in 1641, forfeited under Cromwell and now granted to the officers who petitioned. The Civil Survey for Cork City and County, apart from the barony of Muskerry, has not survived so this is a document of considerable interest.The focus of lot 566 is on another period. This is a compilation of Republican serparatist periodicals and leaflets 1922-24 bound in a single large volume.

    From the Yeats family there is a trunk owned by Jack B. Yeats and held in a bank vault containing personal memorabilia of his marriage of more than 50 years  including the shoes worn by Cottie to their wedding in 1894.  Among the other items in the trunk was The White Jug, an oil on canvas by Jack B. Yeats of a colourful garden scene (3,000-5,000). The auction ranges far and wide, from a signed copy of Brendan Behan’s Island to the first and only edition of The Ancient and Present State of Youghal by Thomas Lord, dated 1784 to the heraldic grants to the Delaval family of Seaton Delaval, Northumberland to the Yeats family copy of Hilary Pyle’s catalogue raisonne of the Yeats oil paintings.  

    UPDATE: The Charles II Charter made 2,000; the first edition of Ulysses sold for 12,000; Irish Republican documents made 11,000; Toome by Seamus Heaney, limited to 15 copies, made 11,000; the Cormac McCarthy archive made just under 40,000 on the hammer; The White Jug by Yeats made 18,000 and wedding anniversary memorabilia from Jack and Cottie Yeats made 4,000.

    Minutes from the trailblazing meetings of the Dublin Wide Streets Commissioners . UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 2,000 AT HAMMER


    Thursday, December 5th, 2019

    IRELAND’S national archives, public records lost during a fire at the Four Courts in Dublin as a result of the Civil War in 1922, are to be recreated using virtual reality. Historical, genealogical and administrative records were lost. A new project, Beyond 2022, Ireland’s Virtual Records Treasury, seeks to recreate the lost records. It is led by Trinity College Dublin in partnership with the National Archives of Ireland, the National Archives UK, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

    Dr. Peter Crooks, Director of Beyond 2022, said: “The Four Courts blaze of 1922 was a national tragedy, but thankfully all is not lost. Beyond 2022 combines virtual reality and big data to recover from the losses of 1922 to a greater extent than ever previously imagined. The scale of copies and duplicates we have identified in other archives is astounding. We are already working with over 35 libraries and archives in Ireland, the UK and US. And this is only the beginning.”

    A virtual reality model of the digitally reconstructed Public Record Office of Ireland will be launched in June 2022 to mark the centenary of the fire.



    Thursday, December 5th, 2019

    Red on Red by William Scott was the top lot at the James Adam sale of Important Irish Art in Dublin on December 4. It made a hammer price of 150,000 over an estimates of 150,000-200,000. A second Scott in the sale, Still Life with Pan and Bowl, failed to find a buyer. Other top lots, with hammer prices in brackets, were: Cottages by a lake by Paul Henry (90,000); Cottages by Water by Paul Henry (70,000); Portrait of J.P. Donleavy by Robert Ballagh (30,000); Moonstruck Youth by Gerard Dillon (28,000); Lake View by Paul Henry (26,000); Horses Exercising, early morning by Basil Blackshaw (22,000); Crouching figure with bowed head by Mary Swanzy (18,500); Boats by William John Leech (18,000); Mother and child by Sir John Lavery (15,000); Clifton, Connemara by George Campbell (15,000); Drover II by Basil Blackshaw (14,000); Still Life by Patrick Swift (14,000); Coastline by Donald Teskey (10,000) and Polo Match, St Moritz by Peter Curling (8,000).

    Red on Red by William Scott


    Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

    A second sale dedicated to ‘Star Wars’ collectibles runs at Sotheby’s until December 13. ‘Star Wars Online’ offers around 100 lots from the acclaimed franchise ahead of the highly-anticipated release of the final film in the sequel trilogy, ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’. As well as original posters, stickers and action figures, the auction will include many early, rare and prized collectibles associated with the film series. The 2015 Star Wars sale at Sotheby’s was a sellout.

    Clive Barker – Bring me the head of Darth Vadar 1999 (£6,000-9,000)


    Wednesday, December 4th, 2019

    There was a new auction record for the Siennese painter Giovanni di Paolo at Christie’s Old Masters evening sale in London on December 3. Saint Clare rescuing the shipwrecked made £5.3 million in an auction that brought in £24.2 million and attracted bidders from 22 countries across four continents.

    Clementine Sinclair, head of the sale said:  “The Evening sale achieved the highest ever percentage sold by lot for a London Old Masters sale at 86% and was 94% sold by value, making it one of the most successful auctions in recent years. This is a testament to the strength and depth in the market for material that is fresh and well-priced. The sale was led by the two exceptional predella panels by Giovanni di Paolo, recently restituted to the heirs of Harry Fuld, which set a new auction record for the artist and made a combined total of £8.9 million. The sale also included an important group of still lifes, with examples by Ambrosius Bosschaert, Jan Breughel the Elder, Daniel Seghers and Abraham Mignon, which was 100% sold and set a new artist record for a work by Seghers. There was cross category interest and buying, underlining the success of combining Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture.” 

    Giovanni di Paolo (Siena c. 1399-1482) Saint Clare rescuing the shipwrecked