Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Sunday, May 24th, 2020

    Covid-19 failed to put a stop to the onward gallop of a fairground carousel at an online auction in Ireland today. The rare late 19th century hand operated carousel in working order with eighteen hand carved and painted horses and two swing boats, complete with hand painted carnival signs, surround and canopy sold for a hammer price of 14,500 at Victor Mee’s online sale. It was day two of the auction of the collection of retired dealer and collector Gerry Derry of Armagh.

    (See post on for May 21, 2020)


    Sunday, May 24th, 2020

    We’ve all become unhappily accustomed to restrictions on our movement.  One lot at Woodwards first ever online only auction in Cork on May 30 demonstrates that lockdown comes in many forms, and there is nothing new about it.  People can be confined to their own property, then forced to flee in most dramatic circumstances, as happened in Cobh long ago.

    Lot 285 at Woodwards is a detailed painting of The Queens Hotel, Queenstown, Ireland (now the Commodore Hotel, Cobh) by Walter Richards. It dates to the first decade of the last century.  Around that time the hotel, which first opened in 1854, was taken over by Otto Humbert, a naturalised British subject of German birth. The noted hotelier had electricity and phones installed and an American style bar on the ground floor. Fast forward to May 1915. Survivors of the Lusitania were brought ashore at Cobh. Some were billeted in The Queen’s Hotel. Feelings about the killing of 1,200 civilians aboard a passenger liner torpedoed by a German U-boat ran very high. Survivors were horrified to discover the proprietor of the hotel was a German.  The fact that he was blameless, that nothing against him was known, counted for nothing.  A mob surrounded the hotel demanding it be burned to the ground.Otto Humbert and his family were forced to hide in the wine cellar for three days until the rioters dispersed. By then he had prudently decided to leave.  He fled from his own hotel and made it to Liverpool.  There he boarded a ship bound for New York, a fact reported by The New York Times on May 30, 1915.  Many of those who died on the Lusitania are buried at Old Church cemetery in Cobh, just five minutes from the hotel.The sinking propelled America into the First World War and Queenstown into global war headlines. The painting depicts a much more tranquil, Edwardian style, harbour front hotel with attractive red and white awnings.  It is estimated at just €400-500.  A few years earlier, in 1912, some of those who set off on the Titanic spent their last night ashore at this historic hotel with its long history of servicing the liner trade.

    Woodwards will offer 338 lots antique furniture, fine art, silver and collectibles in an online auction which has already aroused much interest. 

    The Queen’s Hotel, Queenstown by Walter Richards


    Thursday, May 21st, 2020

    THIS 150 cm tall bronze fountain is the opening lot at an 845 lot auction by Victor Mee of Cloverhill, Co. Cavan on May 23 and 24. On offer is the personal collection of garden and decorative interiors of Gerry Derry of Armagh, who supplied pub fittings and architectural salvage to clients around the globe. The sale is live on Easy Live Auctions. The fountain, in the form of a girl holding a fish, supported by three intertwined fish on plinth, is estimated at 350-700.



    Thursday, May 21st, 2020

    A Charles I Irish provincial silver chalice dating from 1643 sold for £20,000 over a top estimate of £6,000 at Sotheby’s online sale of decorative and fine art in London yesterday. With an inscription reading ‘This Challice was made for Terlagh O Briene and Ellinorie Brieñe of Comoragh the 26th of 8bre [i.e. October] 1643″ it is from the collection of the late Garech Browne at Luggala in Co. Wicklow. Comoragh Castle was in Co. Waterford.

    (See post on for May 11, 2020).


    Monday, May 18th, 2020

    Kurt Cobain’s 1959 Martin D-18E will headline Julien’s Music Icons sale online in Hollywood on June 19-20.  The guitar was played at what would become Nirvana’s most legendary performance in a live taping for MTV Unplugged on November 18, 1993, five months before his death.  Cobain chose this guitar to paint what Rolling Stone called “his last self-portrait”. Nirvana’s acoustic performance that night produced one of the greatest live albums of all time, MTV Unplugged in New York. Cuts from the album, released seven months after Cobain’s death, would go on to become the most celebrated and defining versions of Nirvana’s songs, “About A Girl,” “All Apologies,” “Come As You Are,” and “Dumb,” as well as covers of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World,” The Meat Puppets’ “Lake of Fire,” and a haunting rendition of Lead Belly’s “Black Girl” renamed “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” MTV Unplugged in New York debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard charts and is consistently ranked among the top ten live albums of all time. Cobain’s mastery of this guitar along with Nirvana’s flawless acoustic and vocal performance propelled the MTV Unplugged in New York album to multi-platinum certification and won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 1996. It was the seventh of only 302 D-18Es built by Martin and was customized by Cobain who added a Bartolini pickup to the soundhole. The opening estimate is a cool $1 million.


    Monday, May 18th, 2020

    A fine Cork clock from the collection of the late Garech Browne at Luggala comes up at Sotheby’s Decorative and Fine art online sale which runs to May 20.  The c1780 George III mahogany and Chinoiseries carved fretwork longcase clock by James Aickin is reasonably estimated at just £800-1,200.  Several other lots of Irish interest in this sale include an Irish provincial silver chalice from 1643, also from Luggala.Part of Garech Browne’s cellar is scheduled to come up at Fonsie Mealy’s next online sale at the end of June.

    UPDATE: THIS MADE £1,625


    Saturday, May 16th, 2020

    The onward march of the virtual world in this new era of online auctions, pent up demand and postponed sales cannot be overstated.  Some of the rapid adjustments made in this time of pandemic are temporary, others will prove to be far more permanent.Just a few short months ago at the beginning of the year the idea of conducting a sale with no option to view physically would have been beyond the imaginings of many. Now they are not only commonplace, but working. At a time when traditional viewing is out of the question auctioneers are finding new and imaginative ways to sell.Take Christie’s, currently running a sale called The Collector online until June 1. This 264 lot auction with estimates from £200 to £35,000 is focused on bringing craft and design us in lockdown. To promote the auction of English and European furniture, silver, ceramics, gold boxes and works of art from the 17th to the 19th century, they have created a series of virtual viewing viewing rooms filled with the lots on offer. These virtual vignettes are designed to inspire the inner interior decorator unleashed by all this enforced time at home.  Head of sale Paul Gallois commented:  “During this unprecedented period in our lives, whilst a great many are spending more time than ever at home, interiors have become a major focus of comfort, familiarity and aesthetic expression.”


    Monday, May 11th, 2020

    A Charles I Irish provincial silver chalice dating from 1643 is among the lots at Sotheby’s Decorative and Fine Art online sale which runs until May 20. From the collection of the late Garech Browne at Luggala, Co. Wicklow it is estimated at £4,000-6,000. The inscription reads: ‘This Challice was made for Terlagh O Briene and Ellinorie Brieñe of Comoragh the 26th of 8bre [i.e. October] 1643′. Comoragh Castle was in Co. Waterford.

    The year 1643 found Ireland in turmoil at the beginning of the Confederate Wars (1641-1652). Hostilities had begun in 1641 when a group of Catholic landowners unsuccessfully challenged the English administration in Ireland under Charles I. Their aim had been to gain concessions for Catholics but their defeat led to widespread unrest when English Protestant settlers suffered attacks by the native Irish population. It is believed that Terlagh and Eleanor O’Brien sought safety in Kilconnell, co. Galway, 110 miles north of the disturbances in the vicinity of their native Comeragh.



    Monday, May 11th, 2020

    In Dublin Adams has re-scheduled a number of postponed sales to July and September. The Important Irish Art sale which had been scheduled for March is now to take place on September 9. The most expensively estimated lot in this sale is The Sick Bed by Yeats at 250,000-350,000.

    The Mid-Century Modern sale is now scheduled for July 28. The auction will be held as a live auction with telephone, commission and internet bidding all available, but there will be no bidding in the room. There will be a timed Works on Paper auction and a timed fine wines and spirits sale on July 31. There will be an At Home sale on August 23 and the fine jewellery and watches sale will now take place on September 15.

    Evie Hone HRHA (1894-1955)
    In the Woods at Marley (2,500-3,500) AT ADAMS IRISH ART SALE


    Monday, May 11th, 2020

    Prince’s 1984 custom made blue cloud guitar became part of his iconography after featuring in Purple Rain. It comes up at Julien’s Music Icons sale in Beverly Hills on June 19-20 with an estimate of $100,000-200,000.  As well as Prince the sale will feature memorabilia relating to Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, Jim Morrison, the Rollings Stones, Queen, David Bowie, The Police, Guns N’Roses, Bob Marley, Elton John, Phish, Whitney Houston and many more.

    The original Bob Dylan lyrics for his Blond on Blond album are included in Sotheby’s English Literature, History, Childrens Books and Illustrations sale which runs online until May 12.  They are estimated at £12,000-15,000.

    Prince’s Blue Cloud guitar