Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Saturday, June 19th, 2021

    The global search for collectors of rare precious objects marks one way in which the auction world has adapted very quickly to changed circumstances. In 2021 there is nothing particularly unusual about the fact that an Irish firm –James Adam – has already held a Paris preview for a sale of Fine Asian Art due to take place in Dublin on June 29 and 30.The Paris view is not entirely unconnected to the fact that Adams has created its own Asian department and appointed Thibault Duval as its Dublin based head.  M Duval was latterly head of the Asian Art Department at Drouot in Paris.  This appointment marks a recognition of sorts that if major auction houses in Ireland are to survive and prosper in the 21st century they must open out to the new global realities and view Brexit as an opportunity rather than a threat.

    Qing Dynasty russet and white jade group

    A company like Sheppards in Durrow, Co. Laois with a track record of breaking records for Asian objects and then breaking them again has amply demonstrated that if you can produce the goods the buyers will come.

    Adams has some interesting goods to offer in its sale on Tuesday and Wednesday week.  Notable consignments include a collection of rare Chinese antiques from the estate of Carlos Alfredo Tornquist Altgelt (1885-1953), a hound scroll painting inscribed with the signature of Jesuit painter Giuseppe Castiglione, also known as Lang Shining, from the collection of Juan Carlos Katzenstein (1925-2018) who served as Ambassador to the Holy See and a wooden ruyi scepter from  the collection of Nadezhda, widow of the Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov.  There is a famous portrait of Madame Rimsky-Korsakov by Franz Xaver Winterhalter in the collection of the Orsay Museum. In Chinese Buddhism a ruyi can be a ceremonial scepter or a talisman symbolising power and good fortune in Chinese folklore.

    Chinese School scroll by Giuseppe Castiglioni known as Lang Shining (1688-1766

    There are Chinese jades last seen at auction at Drouot in 1925 and a jade horse formerly in the collection of Baron Pierre DeMenasce who contributed to an exhibition at the V & A Museum in 1975. A collection of Chinese Republican Period porcelains and an 18th century Meiping vase will feature among the 550 lots on offer.


    Thursday, June 17th, 2021

    The sale at Sotheby’s of the manuscripts, first editions, letters and bindings that make up the legendary Honresfield Library – assembled with passion by self-made Victorian industrialists William and Alfred Law at the turn of the 20th century – has been postponed. The Honresfield library contains a treasury of English and Scottish literature including the most important Bronte material to come to light in a generation. 

    Working together with the UK charity Friends of the National Library (FNL), Sotheby’s has agreed to postpone the commencement of the auctions to allow for negotiations for the entirety of the library to be acquired by a consortium of institutions for the nation. The FNL has launched an appeal with an additional donation from its own resources and will be working over the next months to fundraise with the public and private philanthropists. Institutions involved include the Bodleian Libraries, the British Library, The National Library of Scotland, Brontë Parsonage Museum, Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, Brotherton Library (University of Leeds), Abbotsford (The Home Of Sir Walter Scott) and Jane Austen’s House, among others.

    (See post on for May 25, 2021)

    Walter Scott manuscript of The Lay of the Last Minstrel


    Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

    This diamond and sapphire cluster ring is lot 245 at O’Reilly’s of Francis St., Dublin sale of fine jewellery, watches and silver which runs online until June 18. It is estimated at 2,000-3,000. The sale of 581 lots is now underway. UPDATE: THIS MADE 2,000


    Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

    This Irish School portrait of Robert Rochfort (1661-1727) features the Great Irish Mace, which represented the authority of the English King in the Irish House of Parliament. The portrait is lot 2453 at Matthews four day online sale from June 19-22. The Great Irish Mace, over five feet in length, had finely chased floral designs with rose of thistle and fleur-de-lis motifs. Matthews attribute the portrait to George Morphy (1655-1715). King James II is believed to have melted down the mace to help pay his war debts.

    Portrait Robert Rochfort (1661-1727).
    Attorney General of Ireland and Speaker in the Irish House of Commons 1692-1703


    Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

    The source code for the World Wide Web from their creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee are to be auctioned by Sotheby’s as an NFT. Unique on the Ethereum blockchain it is composed of four elements; the original time-stamped files containing the source code written by Sir Tim; an animated visualisation of the code; a letter written by Sir Tim reflecting on the code and the process of creating it ; as well as a digital “poster” of the full code created by Sir Tim from the original files. The British computer scientist invented the world wide web in 1989. The original time stamped files will be offered in a standalone auction titled ‘This Changed Everything’. It is the first historical artefact relating to this landmark moment to be sold. The online sale will run from June 23-30 with bidding starting at $1,000. The sale will benefit initiatives that Sir Tim and Lady Berners-Lee support.

    Sir Tim Berners-Lee


    Monday, June 14th, 2021

    A copy of Ulysses presented by James Joyce to H.G. Wells comes up at Bonhams sale of fine books, manuscripts and photographs in London on June 24. From the 9th printing it is inscribed: “To H.G. Wells respectfully James Joyce, 5 November 1928 Paris” .

    Wells was an important early advocate of Joyce, writing a highly favourable review of his first book A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and describing it as “a book to buy and read and lock up, but it is not a book to miss. Its claim to be literature is as good as the claim of the last book of Gulliver’s Travels… No single book has ever shown how different they [English and Irish sensibilities] are, as completely as this most memorable novel” (The New Republic, 10 March 1917). It is estimated at £20,000-30,000.


    Monday, June 14th, 2021

    A selection of antique furniture will come up at Woodwards in Cork on June 19. Among the lots on offer are an unusual inlaid Indian card table in need of some restoration (€600-€800) and a Georgian walnut bachelors chest with a similar estimate. Other lots include a Georgian mahogany bureau, a Victorian tambour front desk, a Louis XV inlaid card table,  an Edwardian envelope  card table and a pair of bookcases by Hobbs and Co. London. There is a Glasgow longcase clock, a Chinese Chippendale style cabinet by Edwards and Roberts, a William IV teapoy, a set of six Chippendale style dining chairs and a pair of Art Deco mirrors.  Among the other lots are a Coalbrookdale garden bench, a cast iron five piece garden suite, Waterford Crystal, silver and collectibles.  The sale is on view from 10 am to 5 pm all this week and the catalogue is online.

    Inlaid Oriental card table 


    Sunday, June 13th, 2021

    This pair of Irish Rococo candlesticks by the Dublin maker Robert Calderwood sold for $25,000 at South Bay Auctions in New York on June 12. The catalogue note points out that: “The workmanship and quality of this pair of candlesticks places them amongst the finest Irish silver produced in their period, fully equal to the great French silver of the same period. The casting and dimensions match the pair of candlesticks, circa 1745, by Robert Calderwood at The National Museum of Ireland”.


    Friday, June 11th, 2021

    This rare advertising mirror for D.W.D. Whiskey sold for a hammer price of 5,000 at day two of Sheppards online sale of vintage advertising and printed ephemera in Durrow, Co. Laois today. The Dublin Whiskey Distillery Co. on Jones Road was one of six distilleries in Dublin. Located on the banks of the River Tolka it was, in 1872, the last of Dublin’s great distilleries to be built. A Persse’s Galway Whiskey mirror made 4,600 and an original double sided Guinness is Good For You enamel advertising sign with toucan made 2,400.


    Friday, June 11th, 2021

    This poster for Ryan’s Daughter, nominated for four Academy Awards in 1970 and shot in Ireland, comes up at the Collector’s Cabinet timed online auction by Mullen’s of Laurel Park in Bray on June 13. Lot 275 is estimated at 200-300. The sale includes historical memorabilia, early maps, rare and antiquarian books, militaria, arms and armour, Irish silver, sporting memorabilia, comics, rock, pop and cinema. The catalogue is online. UPDATE: THIS MADE 280