Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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  • Archive for April, 2023


    Saturday, April 29th, 2023
    Haze Days by  Yoshitomo Nara at Sotheby’s. THIS WAS UNSOLD

    The explosion of creativity in the art world in the first two decades of the 20th century has not been matched in the 21st. and it is interesting to speculate about why. A century ago the world was newly enriched by Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Abstraction, Suprematism and the rest.  In the global village of today,  development of the shock of the new in art does not seem to have occurred at the hectic pace of technology and other groundbreaking disciplines.  Are artists stupefied by the pace of change in the world all around them? In a world where wonder is taken for granted is visual surprise and delight degraded?

    Geniuses like David Hockney have demonstrated the infinite possibilities of digital art but it is not as yet a significant art market sector.  It looks as if NFT’s have gone the way of cryptocurrency for now. The most innovative market focus is on overlooked women artists, non western art, ethnic, tribal and minority groups but art needs innovation, not political correctness. The impressive selection of Impressionist, Modern, Post-Modern and Contemporary art will come under the hammer at the big New York spring sales in May are mostly of the 20th century. Highly significant art from major collections like Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen,  legendary Condé Nast co owner S.I. Newhouse and Warner Bros. Records executive Mo Ostin, among whose signings were The Kinks, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Joni Mitchell, R.E.M. and Madonna, will boost these sales.

    L’Empire des Lumieres by Rene Magritte from the Mo Ostin collection at Sotheby’s. UPDATE: THIS MADE$42,273,000

    All the big names, from Picasso, Matisse and Magritte to Georgia O’Keeffe, David Hockney, Yayoi Kusama and Jean Michel Basquiat are here along with less well known but seriously doing well relative newcomers like Wayne Thiebaud and Yoshitomo Nara. But the art of today, which both auction houses have been busily promoting, is represented by just 51 lots, 27 at the 21st Century evening sale at Christie’s on May 15 and 24 at the Now evening sale at Sotheby’s on May 18.

    Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama at Christie’s. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $4,890,000

    The Christie’s auction will be headed up by a Basquiat (born in 1960, died in 1986). There is a pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama (born in 1929), a box of ten photographs by Diane Arbus (1923-1971), a take on a Velazquez painting by Jeff Koons (born 1955), Prophet by El Anatsui (born 1944) and Untitled (We will no longer be your favourite disappearing act) by Barbara Kruger (born 1945).  Art in this sale by Cecily Brown, Rashid Johnson, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and other younger artists like Vojtek Kovarik and Louis Fratino (both born in 1993) will definitely reward serious study but seems rooted in the 20th century. A powerful 1998 work by Yoshito Nara titled Haze Days will highlight the Now auction at Sotheby’s. This monumental rendering of a bandaged child – furious, foreboding and wonderfully appealing – embodies the contradictions of our culture and ourselves. The eyes have it and it is no surprise that these angst laden paintings sell for many millions of dollars.  There is arresting art by Simone Leigh, Jonas Wood, Matthew Wong, Julien Nguyen, Mark Grotjahn, Kerry James Marshall, Mark Bradford, Rudolf Stingel and other names that might not yet be so well known.  With this sale Sotheby’s has set out to offer heightened visibility and a relevant art historical context for a new generation of younger artists but it is the artists themselves who need to forge new paths.

    Burning gas station by Ed Ruscha at Christie’s. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $22,260,000


    Wednesday, April 26th, 2023
    Freddy Mercury’s favourite waistcoat

    Stage Costumes, handwritten lyrics, fine and decorative arts, Japanese art, precious objects and a trove of Freddy Mercury’s personal belongings will be sold by Sotheby’s this summer. While Mercury captivated audiences across the globe, it was at his beloved home – Garden Lodge in Kensington, West London – where he fashioned his own private world, assembling a collection that reflected and fired his expansive imagination.

    For some 30 years, Garden Lodge has remained almost entirely as Mercury left it, complete with the many works of art that spoke to him so deeply: from Victorian paintings and striking works on paper by the greatest artists of the 20th century, to the finest examples of the glass maker’s art (a medium he loved beyond measure) and other beautiful objects; and from the exceptional fabrics and fine works he would seek out on trips to Japan, to the smaller, more personal items that were such an important part of his daily life. All complemented by defining objects from his more public life: a number of never-before-seen drafts of the immortal song lyrics, along with some of the riotous costumes that were the hallmark of Mercury’s signature style.

    Freddy Mercury’s Martin D35 acoustic guitar

    This summer, the contents of Garden Lodge, all lovingly cherished and cared for over the last three decades, will be revealed to the public for the first time in a dedicated month-long exhibition at Sotheby’s in London, which will see every inch of the company’s 16,000 square foot gallery space dedicated to celebrating Mercury’s rich and multi-faceted life and passions, culminating in six dedicated sales in September, each one devoted to a different aspect of his life, both public and private.

    Pablo Picasso, Jaqueline au Chapeau Noir (1962

    Mary Austin, one of Mercury’s closest and most trusted friends, has treasured and cared for his home and everything in it for the last thirty years.

    The month-long exhibition at Sotheby’s this summer will see all 1,500 or so items from Garden Lodge displayed in a sequence of specially designed immersive galleries, each one devoted to a different aspect of Mercury’s rich and varied life. The exhibition will open on August 4, and close on what would have been his 77th birthday, September 5. Prior to the exhibition highlights from will tour to New York, London, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong in June.

    The six dedicated auctions which follow will kick off with a live evening sale on September 6 with a cross-section of the most significant items.


    Tuesday, April 25th, 2023
    Louise Bourgeois – Spider UPDATE: THIS MADE $32,804,500

    Spider by Louise Bourgeois from 1996 comes up at Sotheby’s Contemporary evening auction in New York on May 18 with an estimate of $30-$40 million. The most ambitious embodiment of her signature motif her towering Spiders stand among the most iconic sculptures of the twentieth century.  This is one of just four monumental spiders ever to appear at auction and is number one from an edition of six plus in bronze one artists proof in steel.

    Bourgeois imbues the delicate curves and needle-like limbs of her Spiders with memories of her mother, a tapestry weaver. Achieving a lithe grace that belies its towering scale, Spider is emblematic of the deeply personal visual lexicon that defines her artistic practice. One of just 42 known monumental Spiders represented through 11 distinct forms — and over a third of which are in museum collections — the present work emerges from the Instituto Itaú Cultural, having resided in the prestigious museum’s collection in São Paulo for over twenty-five years. It is being sold to benefit the foundation.


    Monday, April 24th, 2023
    HENRI ‘LE DOUANIER’ ROUSSEAU (1844-1910) – Les Flamants. UPDATE: THIS MADE $43,535,000

    Les Flamants by Henri Rousseau is poised to make a new auction record for the artist when it comes up at Christie’s 20th century evening sale in New York on May 15. Estimated at $20,000,000–30,000,000. – far exceeding the current record of $4.4 million set three decades ago at Christie’s in London – Les Flamants is from the estate of Payne Whitney Middleton. It has been in the family since 1949.

    Max Carter, Christie’s Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, said: “A legend among the Parisian avant-garde, Henri Rousseau is perhaps the rarest major artist of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Of the fewer than 240 attributed oils in the definitive catalogues by Dora Vallier and Henry Certigny, the number of privately owned paintings with provenance traced to Rousseau can be counted on two hands. Among them there is only one monumental jungle vision, Les Flamants, which hung for many years in Joan Whitney Payson’s living room opposite Van Gogh’s Irises. In 1954, five years after the family acquired Les Flamants, Rousseau’s The Dream reportedly became the most expensive acquisition in MoMA’s history. At the time, one of Rousseau’s masterpieces appearing on the market was an event. Today it is once-in-a-lifetime.”


    Monday, April 24th, 2023

    Kaare Klint made this unique three seater sofa in 1916. It is a prime example of the earliest days of a movement that would evolve into a golden age of Danish design. Characterised by clean, pure lines and the use of the best materials of the time – burl oak and niger leather – it is among his very early designs.  This sofa has all the attributes that define the work of the Danish architect and furniture designer.  Copenhagen born (in 1888) Kaare Klint is widely regarded as the inspirational father of modern Danish design. The photograph is courtesy of Modernity, Stockholm who will present the sofa at TEFAF New York from May 12-16.


    Sunday, April 23rd, 2023
    Barges on a canal attributed to Dutch artist Jacob Maris UPDATE: THIS MADE 3,000 AT HAMMER

    A work believed to be by one of the most influential Dutch landscape painters of the last quarter of the 19th century will highlight Woodwards special sale of Irish and English silver and paintings in Cork on April 29.  The characteristic oil of sailing barges on a canal attributed to Jacob Maris (1837-1899) has been in the collection of a Cork family for three generations.   Details of its acquisition have been lost.  Maris, with his brothers Willem and Matthijs, belonged to The Hague School of painters and Woodwards reckon this work might sell for around €20,000.

    Prime examples of Irish Provincial silver include a c1780 cream jug by Samuel Reilly, Cork (€1,500-€2,000), a c1748 Limerick tablespoon by George Moore (€500-€600) and a set of five George III tablespoons by Joseph Gibson, Cork c1790 (€500-€600). There is a c1830 Irish silver dish ring by the Dublin maker Edmond Johnson (€1,800-€2,200).  A dish ring by this maker is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Among the other Irish pieces are a sugar basket by Joseph Jackson (€800-€1,200), a George III teapot by Edward Power (€500-€700) and a bright cut soup ladle by Michael Keating (€800-€1,200).


    Saturday, April 22nd, 2023
    Pair of Regency wingback armchairs. UPDATE: THESE MADE 4,800 AT HAMMER

    Cicero wrote that if you have a garden and a library you have everything you need. Many readers will find the words penned by the Roman statesman and philosopher as apposite today as when they were first written more than 2000 years ago. The concept of a sale devoted to furniture and collectibles associated with the libraries of grand houses in Ireland is seductive. Some pleasing and unique  treasures that lie hidden within will emerge at the James Adam library sale next Wednesday April 26. 
    Even if in 2023 many of us choose to do so online we must recognise that in our contemporary world no substitute exists for the quiet, understated comfort and tranquil atmosphere of the library of old.  Rooms like that cannot be realistically recreated in most modern homes but a quiet corner can be set up, a space for contemplation where ideas and actions can be formulated and advanced and the imagination can soar. There is quite literally no limit to the areas of interest that can be pursued in a library. A really good chair is essential.  It is a mystery to me why anybody would manufacture, let alone buy, a chair that is uncomfortable to sit in or difficult to get out of.  Adams has a fine example of a pair of Regency hide covered wingback armchairs. The estimate of €5,000-€7,000 is steep enough but they are pretty much guaranteed to be a comfortable and stylish investment.  Other chairs like a Georgian style wingback armchair together with a Victorian lady’s armchair in olive green leather are, at €600-€800, more affordable. An oak library armchair attributed to Strahan in the 19th century Mannerist style has an estimate of €1,500-2,000 and there is plenty of other examples to choose from.

     A portrait of Henry Boyle by Robert West. UPDATE: THIS MADE 9,500 AT HAMMER

    The auction is strong in fine antique furniture and there is no shortage of stimulating pieces from silverware, books, porcelain, maps, paintings, prints,  and collectibles like a small brass signal cannon or a brass binnacle with compass.  There are wine coolers and cellarettes, canterburys and music stands, benches and metamorphic library steps, a hide covered chesterfield sofa and an early 19th century folio or map stand.A chalk on grisaille portrait of leading Irish politician of his day Henry Boyle (1682-1764)  by Robert West (1710-1770) is estimated at €6,000-€10,000.  The Knight of Glin and Professor Anne Crookshank posited that this is the only known work by West whose Drawing Academy led to the creation of the  Dublin School.  Boyle, whose estates were centred at Castlemartyr, Co. Cork, was Earl of Shannon and Speaker of the Irish House of Commons. A portrait of an unknown young lady by Garret Morphy (1655-1715), one of Ireland’s finest Georgian portraitists, is estimated at €8,000-€10,000.

    A c1780 side table attributed to William Moore UPDATE: THIS MADE 8,000 AT HAMMER

    A collection of 16th and 17th century seal spoons, used to seal letters and important documents and a map of Ireland by Abraham Ortelius was published in 1579 will interest collectors.  A c1780 Irish inlaid side table, attributed to William Moore, is estimated at €10,000-€15,000.  Mirrors, desks, oil lamps, Oriental rugs, Donegal carpets and a collection of African, Australasian, Pacific Islands, Inuit and other ceremonial masks and figures put together by Paddy McEntee S.C. all figure. The most expensively estimated piece out of a total of 444 lots is a set of Great Irish deer antlers and skull (€25,000-€35,000).  Lot 172 is a death mask of Patrick Kavanagh by Seamus Murphy, signed and dated 1967.  The poet and sculptor were contemporaries and first met in Cork in 1943. It is one of only three casts known to exist, with one at the Kavanagh Centre in Co. Monaghan, the other in the Dublin Writen’s Museum.  The estimate is €3,000-€5,000


    Friday, April 21st, 2023


    Calm Seas, Sherkin by Majella O’Neill Collins comes up as lot 34 at Morgan O’Driscolls current off the wall online art auction. It is estimated at 2,000-3,000. The auction is on view in Skibbereen today and again on Monday, April 24, the day of sale. The catalogus is online and bidding starts to close from 6.30 pm.


    Thursday, April 20th, 2023
    Sonja Landweer, 1933-2019 – SEED. UPDATE: THIS MADE 11,000 AT HAMMER

    This unique bronze comes up at de Veres at the studio auction of Sonja Landweer and Barrie Cooke, now open for viewing at de Veres on Kildare St. in Dublin. Lot 34 is estimated at 1,500-2,500. The sale includes works from the studios of the two artists and is comprised of 75 works by Sonja, 30 paintings by Barrie Cooke, as well as pieces collected and items from the studio. The couple established themselves at Jerpoint in Thomastown Co Kilkenny where they fostered a hugely creative community, co-founding the Kilkenny Arts Festival. The timed online auction takes place on April 25 from 6 pm.


    Tuesday, April 18th, 2023
    SEAN SCULLY (B.1945) – Raval Rojo (2004)

    Sean Scully’s Raval Rojo made a hammer price of €580,000 at Morgan O’Driscoll’s Irish and International online art sale this evening. It had been estimated at 400,000-600,000. Among other top hammer prices were Still Life on White with Beans by William Scott (€160,000) and A Western Landscape by Paul Henry (€75,000), George Barret Landscape with Figures and the Ruins of Melrose Abbey, Roxburghshire (€52,000) and Sir William Orpen’s Portrait of Mary, Lady Gerard in a Green Dress made €23,000. The highly successful sale saw top prices achieved for a number of contemporary Irish artists.