Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Thursday, April 11th, 2019

    THE Irish Library sale at James Adam in Dublin on April 17 contains some remarkable pieces of Irish furniture and numerous collectible items. There is a collection of militaria relating to the Duke of Albany’s 72nd Highland Regiment , art by Richard Carver and Edwin Hayes and a collection of taxidermy. The catalogue is online.

    A PAIR OF IRISH CARVED MAHOGANY SIDE TABLES, with breccia marble tops (30,000-50,000)


    Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

    Contents from Fortgranite at Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow – home of the Dennis family for three centuries – will be offered by Fonsie Mealy on April 16. The family, originally named Swift, is related to Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, author, satirist and creator of Gulliver’s Travels. They changed their name for inheritance purposes. Among 850 lots is a portrait of Esther Johnson in the style of James Latham estimated at 7,000-10,000.  Dean Swift’s Stella she is rumoured to have been his wife.

    Other lots include a Boer War letter from Winston Churchill addressed to “Captain M.J.C. Dennis, K Section ‘Pompous’, 2 nd Cav. Bde, South African Field Army”, dated 4 March 1901, signed “Winston S. Churchill” and written on House of Commons notepaper. Captain Dennis took exception to Churchill’s assertion that the Boers had made more effective use of their Maxim guns than the British gunners. This is Churchill’s carefully-worded reply, in which he does not recede from his opinion.

    Late 18th century/early 19th century Irish School portrait of Esther Johnson (Stella) UPDATE: THIS MADE 6,000 AT HAMMER


    Sunday, April 7th, 2019

    An official copy of the final draft of the Good Friday Agreement was the top lot at Whyte’s Eclectic Collector sale in Dublin on April 6. It made a hammer price of 28,000. Printed at Stormont it contains autograph signatures of forty-four participants including Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern, Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, George Mitchell, David Ervine, Brid Rogers, Billy Hutchinson, Seamus Mallon et al. This rare example of this historic document with amendments annotated runs to 67 pages. It had been estimated at 5,000-7,000.

    This highly successful sale grossed 480,000 with 87% of lots on offer sold. (See post on for April 1, 2019)



    Saturday, April 6th, 2019

    THE letters containing the royal grant of the title Baron Tracton from George III in 1781 will feature at Fonsie Mealy’s contents sale at Fortgranite, Baltinglass, Co. Wicklow on April 16.  On vellum and decorated with arms, emblems and a portrait of the king they were addressed to James Dennis of Tracton Abbey in Co. Cork. The son of a timber merchant from Kinsae James Dennis was a barrister who became chief baron of the Irish Exchequer in 1777.  He was MP for Rathcormack and Youghal.  Raised to the peerage in 1781 he died childless the following year and his title died with him. He left his estates to his two nephews: those in Kerry to the Rev. Meade-Swift-Dennis, and Tracton Abbey in Co. Cork and Temple Hill House in Co. Dublin to John Swift-Dennis.  The letters are estimated at 1,500-2,000.

    Letters patent from George III with the royal grant of Baron Tracton UPDATE: THIS MADE 3,200 AT HAMMER


    Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

    A pair of Irish Elk or Giant Deer antlers from the collection of the late Sir Sidney Nolan comes up at Bonhams sporting sale in Edinburgh on May 1. The megalocerus giganteus antlers come with 18 points, skull and some restorations. They are 88 inches wide and estimated at £26,000-30,000.

    Bonhams list the provenance as the collection of the late Sir Sidney and Lady Nolan at The Rodd. Antlers have long been a feature of Irish and Scottish baronial banqueting halls. Now extinct the Irish elk is one of the largest deers that ever roamed the earth. It lived during the Pleistocene Period of the Great Ice Age (starting 2.6 million years ago and ending 11,700 years ago).

    The Irish Elk antlers at Bonhams


    Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

    FOR the first time auctioneer Morgan O’Driscoll will hold New York viewings on April 2 and 3 for his Irish and International Art sale at the RDS on April 29. The venue is O’Sullivan’s Antiques at 51 East 10th St.

    There will be viewings in London on April 15, 16 and 17 and the sale will be on view in Skibbereen from April 20-22 before the Dublin viewings which begin on April 26. There are 161 lots in the auction.

    Spring Tide Schull (1919) by Jack Butler Yeats (50,000-70,000)


    Monday, April 1st, 2019

    A 1953 All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship winners medal, a 20 pence piece from 1985 20 valued at 5,000-6,000, an archive of 25 lots from Mount Cashell and a rocket launcher from the Northern Ireland conflict are among the rich selection on offer at Whyte’s Eclectic Collector sale in Dublin on April 6.Defending champions Cork, captained by Christy Ring, retained their All-Ireland crown in 1953 with a 3-3 to 0-8 win over Galway.  A nine carat gold medal from that final is estimated at 4,000-6,000.The sale of the RPG-7 rocket launcher is not without controversy.  The catalogue says it was used by the Provisional IRA during the Troubles. Bulgarian made it was decommissioned in Birmingham in 2013 and is being sold with two inert rocket propelled grenades, an inert booster rocket and accessories.  From a Republican collector the lot is estimated at 4,000-6,000.

    More constitutional politics is represented in the sale in lots like a 1966 Presidential Election Fine Gael Poster for defeated candidate Tom O’Higgins and 1973 and 1989 general election posters. The old 20 pence coin is what is known as a trial piece issued in advance of production to various companies to facilitate the calibration of vending machines and coin operated devices.  Less than 50 of the 500 issued by the Central Bank were not returned and about 10 examples have been recorded to date in private hands.  This makes the 20 pence piece one of the rarest of modern Irish coins, even rarer than the 1943 florin.  An old Lady Lavery £20 wartime bank note from 1943 is estimated at 5,000-6,000. The Mount Cashell Archive consists of 18 lots ranging from the 1692-1711 records of the town of Clonmel to the diaries of Stephen Moore, 3rd Earl of Mount Cashell (1792-1883)  Tipperary estate map including tenants names to an 1893-1943 photograph album of the Coshmore and Coshbride hounds, Ballynatray, Co. Waterford and photograph albums of the Moore, More Smyth and Holroyd Smyth families. A Victorian Royal County of Limerick militia officer’s shako (military hat)  with white metal plate is estimated at 1,500-2,000. The sale includes historical documents and artefacts, militaria, coins, banknotes, rare books, early maps, antiques and curios, rock and pop collectibies and advertising and sporting memorabilia among more than 600 lots.

    UPDATE: The rocket launcher sold for a hammer price of 10,000, the diaries of Stephen Moore (1792-1883), 3rd Earl of Mount Cashell made 8,000, an Easter Rising and War if Indeoendence medal awarded to Herbert Conroy made 6,200, a Howth mauser rifle and converted bayonet made 10,500, the rare trial 20 pence piece made 5,400, a 1682 gold five guineas sold for 6,600, a Lady Lavery war code £20 note made 10,500, an 1871 Howth Mauser rifle and converted gras bayonet made 10,500 and the 1953 All Ireland winners Cork medal made 6,500.

    A Limerick shako or military hat UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 1,800 AT HAMMER
    1953 All Ireland senior hurling medal UPDATE: THIS MADE 6,500 AT HAMMER


    Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

    A Fabergé tiara wedding gift from Frederick Francis IV, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1882-1945) to his bride Princess Alexandra of Hanover and Cumberland (1882-1963) comes up at Christie’s sale of Magnificent Jewels in Geneva on May 15. The 1904 tiara is of symbolic design with forget-me-not flowers tied with ribbon bows, signifying true and eternal love, pierced by arrows representing cupid. Composed of nine graduated pear-shaped aquamarines, old, cushion and rose-cut diamonds, the historic tiara has a pre-sale estimate of US$ 230,000-340,000.

    The Faberge Tiara

    The Grand Duke’s mother, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia, was a keen Fabergé collector, and encouraged him to order his wedding present at the atelier Fabergé in St Petersburg. At the time of their 1904 marriage Frederick was 22 and Alexandra, 21. Archives show correspondence between the Grand Ducal Cabinet of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and Eugène Fabergé, revealing deliberations on a commission of an important jewel. One of the letters dated 10 May discussed the possibilities that could be offered: ‘a diamond tiara’ for 10’000 roubles or ‘an aquamarine and diamond tiara’ for 7’500 roubles, and that only using aquamarines as gemstones was not possible. Another letter referred to drawings with designs Fabergé proposed for the top section of the tiara, sent to the Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna for her son’s approval. However, these drawings went missing. Fabergé expressed concerns that he held no copies himself and did not know which design appealed to the Grand Duke.

    Two weeks before the marriage Fabergé wrote to the Grand Ducal Cabinet that he was yet to receive any instructions to proceed. For a second time he asked for the return of the drawings as he could not advance his work without them. A subsequent letter referred to a completion for the wedding on 7 June, as requested by the Grand Duke by which Fabergé declared that it was impossible to execute the commission in such a short time. On the day of the wedding the Princess wore the traditional Hanoverian nuptial crown commissioned in 1761 for the wedding of King George III of England and Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The Fabergé tiara, her own special wedding gift from the Grand Duke, followed later.


    Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

    Art by Cezanne, Warhol and Koons will feature among eleven works from the collection of S.I. Newhouse at Christie’s in New York in May. They will come up at the evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on May 13 and Post War and Contemporary Art on May 15. Representing Newhouse’s globally renowned taste and unfailing instinct for quality and historical significance, these works together trace key developments in the evolution of modern art, from the exceptional compositional inventiveness of Cézanne’s Bouilloire et fruits, 1888-1890 (estimate in the region of $40 million) to the quintessential image from Andy Warhol’s incomparable Death and Disaster Series, Little Electric Chair, 1964-1965 (estimate: $6-8 million). No work is more emblematic of Newhouse’s intuition for the revolutionary and sublime than Jeff Koons’ 1986 sculpture, Rabbit (estimate: $50-70 million). The group of 11 works is expected to exceed $130 million throughout 20th Century Week.

    Jeff Koons (b1955) – Rabbit

    Tobias Meyer, advisor to the Newhouse Family said:“Si Newhouse was one of the most important collectors of the 20th century and well into the 21st. He personified the rare combination of a great intuitive eye and equally great intellectual curiosity. He read voraciously about the artists he admired, and nothing could stop him once he decided to acquire a work of art that measured up to his exacting standards. Learning from Si was a privilege, and now helping his family is the highest honor of my career. It is a real pleasure to work with these amazing paintings and sculptures.”

    PAUL CÉZANNE (1839-1906) Bouilloire et fruits

    ANDY WARHOL (1928-1987) Little Electric Chair


    Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

    The evening sale of Important Irish Art at James Adam in Dublin on March 27 offers a broad selection of 166 lots. The earliest painting in the auction is a 1760 landscape by George Barret senior and there is a good selection of mid-20th century art and sculpture. The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection:

    See posts on for March 16 and March 22, 2019.

    George Barret senior – Landscape with figures UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD
    Patrick O’Reilly (b.1957) Two Cows as Milk Cartons (2008) UPDATE: THIS MADE 2,200 AT HAMMER