Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Monday, April 22nd, 2024


    This Killarney work table comes up on the first of four days of sales at Sheppards in Durrow on April 30 and May 1, 2 and 3. The octagonal chequered and shamrock inlaid shaped top opens to a fitted interior, above an ogee moulded and inlaid frieze. The 19th century table is raised on a baluster stem with octagonal platform base terminating on scroll feet and is estimated at €5,000-€8,000. Lot 327 is estimated to come up early in the afternoon of April 30. Viewing in Durrow gets underway on April 27 and the catalogue is online.


    Saturday, April 20th, 2024

    An 1857 work on Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa by David Livingstone – 14 years before Dr. Livingstone by found by Henry Morton Stanley near what was then Lake Tanganyika in present day Tanzania.

    A complete set of Moore’s Dublin Edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica totalling 19 volumes illustrated with nearly 400 copper plates features at Fonsie Mealy’s timed online Spring Rare Book and Collector’s auction which runs until April 24.  James Moore’s 1791-97 reprint of the third edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica was technically legal because British copyright protections did not apply in Ireland until after the Act of Union in 1800. Unlike Britannica volumes, all dated 1797,  Moore’s title pages were dated the year they were printed, from 1788 to 1797.  The unusual result of this is that the pirated Irish version has an earlier date than the original.  The estimate on what was the largest and most expensive publication to appear in Ireland at the time is €700-€1,000.

    On offer is a selection of English and Irish first editions, signed and limited copies, periodicals and books on history, travel and science along with pamphlets, maps and ephemera.  Included is the residue of the library of the late Dr. Philip Murray of Sligo.

    More than 700 lots will come under the hammer with everything from a signed first edition of Cities of the Plain by Cormac McCarthy complete with a two cassette audio book read by Brad Pitt (€800-€1,000) to a 1959 poster for an excursion to Youghal by train from Cork (€300-€400), a 1929 book on champion boxer Jack Dempsey signed by Rocky Marciano (€400-€600) and Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa by Dr. David Livingstone.

    A poster  for a 1959 excursion to Youghal

    A collection of programmes from Manchester United home games from 1949-69 (€300-€400), a 1912 first edition of Life in the West of Ireland with coloured illustrations by Jack B Yeats (€550-€750), a framed emigrants testimonial to ships surgeon J J Tighe from passengers of the Rangitiki after a 13 week voyage to New Zealand in 1876 (€250-€350), an 1809 printing of The Works of James Barry, Historical Painter by Edward Fryer (€200-€300) and a set of five signed first editions by Lawrence Durrell including two inscribed to Dr. Philip Murray (€250-€320) demonstrate the depth and breadth of this sale.

    You could travel in 3rd class in comfort with CIE according to the poster advertising an excursion to Youghal from Cork on Sunday, September 6 1959. It announced that a non stop special train would leave Cork at 10.45 am and return at 11.55 pm.  The return third class fair was seven shillings and six pence. Freighted with memories this poster is estimated at €300-€400.

    Elsewhere in the online catalogue is an illuminated address to Thomas Brisbane Warren, Dean of Cork (€120-€170), a large collection of more than 1,100 postcards (€300-€400) and a bound set of  six varied acts of King George III owned by John Hely Hutchinson, 2nd Earl of Donoughmore relating to matters like paving the streets of Cork and improving the butter trade,.  Hely-Hutchinson represented Cork city in the Irish House of Commons and the set is estimated at €250-€350.  Lot 580 is an 1815 Smith’s History of Cork and other books of local interest estimated at €200-€300.

    The sale is on view in Castlecomer on April 22 and 23 and the catalogue is online.

    A narrative on Jack Dempsey signed by Rocky Marciano 


    Friday, April 19th, 2024

    Nevill Johnson – Europe 1945

    There is more than a sense of history repeating itself in this 1945 work by Nevill Johnson at Sotheby’s Irish Sale in Paris from April 25-May 2. The work was included in Johnson’s solo exhibition with Waddington in April 1950 and reflects his response to the inhumanity and destruction of war. The road sign acts as a signifier of the human figure, and also represents a modern civilisation that seems to have vanished, a road sign standing where no roads remain. A post-atomic cloud floats above a desert of stones, with hills in the distance; the skeletal, lizard-like form in the foreground is likely to be derived from a piece of the driftwood that Johnson collected. It comes up as lot 23 at Sotheby’s with an estimate of €7,000-€10,000. There is work by Roderic O’Conor, Louis le Brocquy, Colin Middleton, Patrick Scott, F E McWilliam, John Behan, Rowan Gillespie and others. The catalogue is online.


    Friday, April 19th, 2024

    A Federal mahogany sofa with typically Irish rope twist legs

    The Irish furniture connections between émigré cabinet makers working in Philadelphia, such as Joseph Barry and Henry Connelly, is particularly apparent in this Federal mahogany sofa which comes up as lot 100 at the James Adam Library Collection sale in Dublin on May 1. It is estimated at €3,000-€5,000. Amongst the highlights of the sale is the collection of over 80 lots of furniture, clocks, porcelain, glass and decorative effects from ‘Dawesfield’, an iconic Pennsylvania farmhouse built by Abraham Dawes c1728. The property is on the US National Register of Historic Places because the house served as General George Washington’s headquarters after the Battle of Germantown from October 20 to November 2, 1777 during the revolutionary wars. This collection, never previously on the market, has come down by descent through the generations of the female line, and has been in Ireland for the last three decades or so.

    It includes a Chippendale corner cabinet, lot 106 (€2,000/3,000), a Federal dining table, lot 126 (€700/1,000), a set of eight dining chairs,lot 125 (€1,500/2,500) and a Chippendale four poster bed c1775, lot 130 (€3,000/5,000). An unusual oak Schrank (a wardrobe of traditional southern German design), lot 129 (€6,000/10,000) is likely to have been used by George Washington during his stay in Dawesfield in 1777. Also from Dawesfield is a collection of books from the library of Dr Thomas James who was married to Hannah Morris, a descendant of Abraham Dawes.

    A Federal dining table from Dawesfield.


    Thursday, April 18th, 2024


    An exhibition of over 30 works by acclaimed Irish artist Robert Ballagh opens today at The Gorry Gallery in Dublin. Featuring paintings in oil on canvas, as well as prints, sketches, and other mixed media, this unique and principled show displays Ballagh’s views on Ireland, the world, and the fragility of life itself. Now aged 80 the catalogue includes Ballagh’s personal comments on each of his pictures. The exhibition runs until May 3 and can be viewed online.


    Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

    Graham Sutherland – Surviving study for a portrait of Churchill commissioned by Parliament

    One of the best surviving portraits of Winston Churchill by Graham Sutherland – an 80th birthday present commissioned by parliament – comes up at Sotheby’s in London on June 6. The Houses
    of Parliament commissioned the portrait thus setting up a new chapter in Churchill’s life story which ended with the painting being burned in an episode immortalised in popular culture by The Crown. On offer is an intimate painted study created in preparation for the final work.
    Winston Churchill was one of the most reproduced characters, described by curators of the National Portrait Gallery in London as “the most famous face of the 20th century”. The legacy that he left rests in no small part on the extraordinary care he took to cultivate his public image: from the ‘V for Victory’ to his cigars and bowler hats. Over the course of his life, he was painted by William Orpen, John Singer Sargent, Walter Sickert, William Nicholson and Oswald Birley, among others.
    Churchill was extraordinarily concerned by how he was represented, and often gave withering
    assessments to those who dared portray him. The portrait painted by Graham Sutherland in 1954
    proved to be the most objectionable. Sutherland was at the very forefront of modern British art at the time, eclipsing Francis Bacon with whom he shared a gallery. It was Churchill’s intention to be painted in his Garter robes but Sutherland insisted that he was to be painted in the clothes which Parliament and the public knew him. Sutherland did ultimately produce a painting of him in his garter robes, now in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton. Churchill was keen to inspect the portrait as the project went along, but Sutherland insisted that he
    mustn’t. It was Clementine who first viewed the work at Sutherland’s studio once it was complete, and
    she was so pleased with it that she cried tears of joy and took a photograph home with her. Sadly, this
    celebration was short lived. On seeing the work, Churchill wrote to his personal doctor Lord Moran describing the work as “filthy and malignant”, followed by a letter to Sutherland and his wife that it was not suitable as a presentation from the Houses of Parliament and so he did not want to be part of the ceremony. In the end, Churchill attended the ceremony but uncharitably derided the work as a
    “striking example of Modern art”, to a peal of laughter from the audience. The press were in the large part unforgiving, the Telegraph and the Daily Express calling for the work
    to be thrown away or even burnt. The Spectator went against the pack and described the work as “by
    far the best record of the Prime Minister which we shall bequeath to posterity”. However, this vision
    was not to be realised. Within two years, such was the rancour with which the painting was viewed at Chartwell, that Churchill’s loyal secretary Grace Hamblin employed her brother to take it away and burn it (a move that received Clementine’s approval, who despite her original enthusiasm had gradually turned against it too, feeling betrayed).


    Tuesday, April 16th, 2024

    William John Huggins (British 1781-1845) – Madagascar. UPDATE: THIS MADE 3,700 AT HAMMER

    This c1837 portrat of the Madagascar with the white cliffs of Dover in the background recalls a sea mystery. Built in 1837 it disappeared on a voyage from Melbourne in Australia and was one of the great maritime mysteries of the 19th century. The 1837 oil on canvas is estimated at €4,000-€6,000 when it comes up at the Lynes and Lynes sale in Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork on April 20. After leaving Melbourne on August 12, 1853 with around 110 passengers, a crew of 40 and a cargo of wool, rice and two tonnes of Gold Rush gold the Blackwall Frigate Madagascar was never seen again. The sale of 478 lots will include lots from the estate of Roma Peare (nee Knox) of Kinsale and Tipperary as well as residual lots from Cuskinny House, Cobh and from individual clients of this auction house. There is  a good selection of furniture, silver, paintings and collectibles including an old dolls house with farmhouse and accessories (€40-€60).

    A dolls house, farmhouse and accessories  UPDATE: THIS MADE 100 AT HAMMER


    Monday, April 15th, 2024

    A 19th century French oak pantry cupboard

    For those hell bent on upscaling an interior and adding a touch of real individuality the sort of lots that can set the imagination soaring can be found in plenty at Victor Mee’s decorative interiors sale on April 24 and 25.

    Among an eclectic selection of items are an early 19th century French oak pantry cupboard (€1,500-€3,000), a pair of Ralph Lauren brass wall sconces (€600-€1,200), a 19th century French copper bath (€600-€1,200), a life sized stuffed brown bear (€4,000-€8,000) and a Grecian urn (€450-€850).

    Or how about a now rare early 20th century bronze luggage and coat rack complete with mirror  (€200-€400). These were a familiar sight on all trains once so this one should jog memories.

    The Grand Tour plaster cast Grecian urn on pedestal might stimulate an irresistible urge to try to compose like the Romantic poet John Keats.  His famous Ode to a Grecian Urn concludes with the words: 

    “Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all 

    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know”.

    A 19th century life size taxidermy brown bear 


    Monday, April 15th, 2024

    A 19th century painted pine settle bed. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    There is scope for a unique and special Irish look at the Vernacular auction James Adam on April 16 at 11 am.  On offer is a selection of settle beds, pine dressers, kitchen and farmhouse tables, cauldrons, deer antlers, dowry chests, rush lights, a folk model diorama of a three masted barque, hedge and sugan chairs, food cupboards, meal bins, chests and turf buckets, all more than reminiscent of the way we lived in Ireland long ago.

    The term vernacular covers a multitude and this auction of 254 lots offers an interesting and collectible selection of art with work by, among others, James Dixon, Frank McKelvey, Markey Robinson, Ellen Connolly, Maurice Wilks and Charles Henry Cook. A c1800 Kilkenny black marble fireplace (€5,000-€8,000), silver dish or potatoe rings, Celtic Revival silver bowls and even a replica of the Ardagh Chalice enhance the Irish feel of this specialist sale. Among a selection of settle beds is a 19th century painted pine version with a moulded top (€800-€1,200) and a 19th century settle used as a prop in the film The Banshees of Inisherin.


    Friday, April 12th, 2024
    John Luke – The Lock at Edenderry, 1935. Collection Crawford Art Gallery, Cork.

    In what is the largest ever loan from a national cultural institution in Ireland the Crawford Gallery in Cork has loaned 14 artworks to Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland. They are part of a collection of 33 new works of Irish art on display at the State Drawing Room at Hillsborough Castle until January 2027. Crawford paintings include  landscapes by painters Paul and Grace Henry, Moonlight Ballyholme by Belfast-born Colin Middleton and The Locks at Edenderry by Belfast artist John Luke.

    David Orr, Castle and Collections Manager at Hillsborough Castle and Gardens said: “The Drawing Room at Hillsborough Castle is a haven of Irish art, a celebration of our magnificent land and seascapes right through to incredible royal portraits by Irish artists. We are hugely proud of this new collection, and excited to work with a significant range of lenders, including our largest ever from the Republic of Ireland from Crawford Art Gallery in Cork.”

    Additional lenders include NI Civil Service, Down County Museum, Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum, Co-Operation Ireland, Northern Ireland Office and King Charles III of the UK. Historic Royal Palaces is also delighted to announce the acquisition of a Thomas Lawrence portrait of Lord Marcus Hill and 51 miniature portraits of the Hill and Sandys families – known as the Ombersley Miniatures – generously gifted by the Sandys Trust.