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    Saturday, July 2nd, 2022
    The 1851 Great Exhibition carved bog yew armchair by Arthur Jones of Dublin at Butchoff Antiques.awarded a Vetting Committee Highlight for the stand out piece of furniture at the fair.

    Masterpiece, in full swing at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London until July 6, is a place of discovery.  The UK’s premier antiques fair – making a welcome return after a three year gap – offers the finest works of art, design, furniture and jewellery from antiquity to the present day. The fair is remarkable for its depth, breadth and scholarship. Quality is a byword and everything on display has been rigorously vetted by a panel of 180 experts.

     This is an outing not just for the rich, who are catered for royally, but for the culturally curious. It offers much to discover in a non 21st century way.  “Search engines direct us to what we supposedly want or need.  I think Masterpiece does the exact opposite: it encourages people to discover things they weren’t expecting to find”,  Lucie Kitchener, the Masterpiece managing director said. You might not, for example, be expecting to find something by our remarkable Cork based sculptor Eilis O’Connell.  But you will, a carved Portuguese pink marble work entitled Thornmorph, at sculpture specialists Pangolin London  priced at £14,600.

    There was definitely something familiar about a heavily  carved Irish chair at Butchoff Antiques, also of London.  The 1851 Great Exhibition carved bog yew armchair, made by Arthur Jones of Dublin, had featured at a local auction in Ayr last December where it sold for a hammer price of £44,000 over a top estimate of £3,000. There is Irish furniture, as there is nearly always at the world’s leading fairs.  Among a number of Irish pieces displayed at Rory Rogers Ltd. is a wonderful c1780 glass oval mirror with original cobalt blue and opaque glass studs.  This one is enclosed in a carved giltwood frame.

     A pair of antique Irish  mirrors not too dissimilar in style turned up at Lynes and Lynes in Cork last Saturday where they made a hammer price of €4,600.A remarkable ceramic sculpture by Merete Rasmussen, another artist from the Pangolin stable, garnered much attention from the pre-fair publicity. The sinuous yellow sharp edged piece entitled Ouroboros dates to 2019 and is priced at £22,000.  The sculpture series curated by Melanie Vanderbrouck of the V and A considers innovative investigations of form and matter and how other disciplines may inform and enrich sculptural practice.

    The super rich on whom this fair relies are less affected by harsh financial reality than the rest of us. Challenges remain nevertheless.  It will be interesting to see whether Brexit will have an adverse impact on a selling event that is, in fact, global.  Russians are absent and Covid is present.  Possible good news is that Masterpiece is not immune to the pent up demand released everywhere by the ending of lockdown.In the face of all the adversities of 2022 Masterpiece – with 128 exhibitors including 27 from overseas – is a welcoming place that offers a visitor experience that is pretty much unrivalled.  From Roman statues to contemporary jewellery, Andy Warhol to a panelled Georgian Tavern settle, Tutankhamum (the centenary of the discovery of his tomb is being marked with a 21st century virtual display) to Rodin and Matisse, to jewellery, silver and furniture from across the ages this fabulous fair is a place for curators, collectors, the curious and those who want to learn.

     Irish oval mirror in a carved giltwood leaf frame at Rory Rogers Ltd.


    Thursday, June 30th, 2022
    Important Irish George II mahogany silver table at Rory Rogers Ltd. priced at £115,000

    Sales were brisk at the preview day at Masterpiece, the UK’s leading art fair which opens to the public today and runs until July 6.  The fair, which is normally a fixture on the summer calendar in London, is on again after three years and most people seem delighted to be back. Visitors can view and buy the finest works of art, design, furniture, and jewellery – from antiquity to the present day – secure in the knowlege that everything on display has been vetted.

    This is a slightly slimmed down and possibly less international than usual version, with 127 stands as opposed to 150 in 2019.  There are various reasons for this, TEFAF Maastricht – normally on in March –  is ending today adding to a  busy time of year in the international season.  Brexit has added layers of bureaucracy to the work of most dealers. The London market, post Covid and post Brexit, is coming from behind.  London remains a major global location but there is a sense about the fair that feels more local this year.

    Masterpiece is a marvellous fair. Sandwiched between a 60 million year old Triceratops dinosaur skull, two Ferrari’s and luxury boats you will find antiquities, Old Masters, contemporary art, jewellery, a  three volume first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma inscribed by the author to her friend Anna Sharpe (£375,000 at Peter Harrington), jewellery, silver and design of a very high order. Expect a degree of security, no heavier than usual, but on alert after the jewellery heist at Maastricht earlier in the week.


    Wednesday, June 29th, 2022

    THERE were dramatic scenes at TEFAF in Maastricht as four men with a sledgehammer broke into a jewellery display and escaped with an unknown quantity of jewellery. No one was hurt but the fair was closed for an hour in consequence. At least one of the raiders is thought to have been armed with a gun. It was one blot on an otherwise unblemished TEFAF fair, which had reported strong sales. TEFAF is normally held in March but was postponed for three months as lockdowns gradually ended. The theft occurred at the stand of upscale London luxury jewellers Symbolic and Chase of Old Bond St. TEFAF runs until June 30.

    Here is a video of the robbery:



    Monday, June 27th, 2022
    Greek enthroned goddess – Thebes, c.540 – 520 BC Terracotta

    Charles Ede of London is displaying this terracotta of a Greek goddess from Thebes at TEFAF, Mastricht, which continues until June 30. Collectors, museums, and art lovers returned in force to the opening weekend of the first TEFAF Maastricht to take place since 2020. Sales are reported to have been good. There was strong presence from the museum community with over 100 institutions sending representatives to the fair and reports of robust sales to this audience alongside significant acquisitions by private collectors.  Museums in attendance included the Metropolitan Museum of Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago from the US along with the British Museum, Courtauld Institute of Art, and Ashmolean Museum from the UK.  Other major European institutions visiting included the Musée de Louvre, the Rijksmuseum, Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, and the national galleries of Denmark, Berlin, Scotland, and Ireland.


    Friday, June 24th, 2022
    Necklace, 1969. Platinum, white gold, 59 sapphires for about 65.95 carats (Burma, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Thailand, Cambodia), diamonds. Heritage Collection.

    This magnificent 1969 Heritage necklace will be presented by Van Cleef and Arpels at TEFAF Maastricht which runs from June 25-30. The 59 sapphires of various origins and shapes are displayed as an exceptional ensemble of precious stones set in white gold and platinum.

    The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF) returns to Maastricht in signature style, revealing a selection of recent discoveries and masterpieces for the 35th edition. TEFAF Maastricht attracts the world’s leading dealers and is unrivalled in terms of the breadth and depth of the works presented.


    Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022
    ‘Japonisme’ Gilt and Patinated Bronze and Cloisonne Table by Ferdinand Barbedienne – Design attributed to Edouard Lièvre, c1870

    The rare and important table encapsulates the fashion for the ‘le style japonais et chinois’ which swept Paris in the mid-19th century and was inspired by Empress Eugénie’s Musée chinoisat the Château de Fontainebleau and the opening of trade with Japan. This occasioned a revival of the study of the art and culture of the Far East, which itself was greatly advanced by Japan’s participation in the World’s Fairs, or Great Exhibitions of Art and Industry, which for the first time presented for public consumption a dazzling array of Asian artworks. and techniques including cloisonné enamel, marquetry of shell and ivory, carved wood and patinated bronze. Western artists created their own works by adopting and reinterpreting this newfound source of inspiration. The ensuing style, an amalgamation of Eastern and Western influences was coined ‘Japonisme’ and went on to inspire the organic forms of Art Nouveau and Aestheticism.

    Adrian Alan Ltd. of London will present this table at TEFAF. With an extraordinary selection of antiques gathered by 242 leading global dealers The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) – normally held in March – runs at Maastricht  in The Netherlands from June 25-30. Collectors, specialists and curators can experience 7000 years of art history at a fair which offers everything from Greek statues to the best of contemporary art and design.


    Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

    The global scramble for items from the collection of Hubert de Givenchy continued at Christie’s in Paris today. The cachet of owning something from this prestige collection continues to add enormous value. Many estimates were rendered nonesensical. The two polychrome 17th or 18th century busts illustrated here sold for €2,442,000 over a top estimate of €250,000 this morning. Lot 105, the sixth lot of the sale, was not alone in far exceeding the top estimate. A Louis XV Aubusson rug with a top estimate of €60,000 made €214,200; a pair of 20th century metal and porphyry top occasional tables with a top estimate of €12,000 made €69,300, a still life by Georges Braque made €88,200 over a top estimate of €30,000, a Louis XVI beechwood armchair covered with a fabric designed by Braque made €157,000 over a top estimate of €10,000 and a pair of probably 18th century German silver gilt beakers from the Cobblers Guild made €11,340 over a top estimate of €3,000.

    UPDATE: GIVENCHY LIVE AUCTIONS ACHIEVE € 114.4 MILLION. Buying by lot 57% from Europe and Middle East, 12% from Asia and 30% from the Americas

    (See posts on for June 14, June 5, March 10 and February 2, 2022)


    Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

    Frans Pourbus II (1569 – 1622) – Vincenzo Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua (1562 – 1612)

    The Weiss Gallery, London, will bring this arresting 1602 portrait by Frans Pourbos to TEFAF Maasticht which runs from June 25-30. The artist, arguably the most sought-after court portrait painter throughout western Europe during the first decades of the seventeenth century, here depicts his greatest patron, Vincenzo Gonzaga, the Duke of Mantua, in an imperial manner appropriate for a revered European prince. The Duke proudly wears the prestigious Order of the Golden Fleece, which was conferred to him by Philip II of Spain in 1589.

    Under Vincenzo’s reign, the ducal household comprised of more than six hundred people and it was famously extravagant, not least for the art collection amassed by the duke and his forebears. Between 1627 and 1630 a part of the collection was sold to King Charles I – much of these purchases remain key pieces from the British Royal Collection – while the rest was to be scattered following the sacking of the ducal palace in 1630 by imperial troops during a dispute over the Gonzaga succession. At one time the collection consisted of well over 2,000 paintings and more than 20,000 works of art, including bronzes, marbles, medals, coins, armour, ceramics, as well as rare manuscripts and books, making the Gonzaga collection one of the greatest ever amassed.

    Frans Pourbus II was born in Antwerp and naturalised French in 1617. He was the most influential court painter of the late-sixteenth and early- seventeenth centuries.


    Saturday, June 4th, 2022
    Rug on the rocks – Annamore Antiques will bring a selection of Persian rugs to the fair

    A much enlarged Opera Festival antiques and art fair takes place on June 4 and 5 at the community centre in the shadow of Lismore Castle.  Among the members of the Irish Antique Dealers Association who will attend are Marie Curran (jewellery and silver) Dublin, Greene’s Antiques of Drogheda and Treasures Irish Art from Athlone.

    Dealers from right around the country will bring an appetising selection of Irish art, French antique furniture, Persian rugs, high end vintage fashion with a global provenance, jewellery, oil lamps, porcelain, glass, coins, banknotes, boxes, militaria and collectibles including clocks.  There will be small easily carried pieces and even genealogy solutions.  Organiser Robin O’Donnell of Hibernian Antique Fairs who managed to keep fairs going online during lockdown will make another online offering soon;  he plans to sell online his own private collection gathered over the past 35 years in a format similar to the  online fairs.


    Tuesday, May 24th, 2022

    A rare 1970’s ‘Non Stop’ sofa by Ueli Berger, Eleanore Peduzzi-Riva and Hans Ulrich for De Sede, Switzerland made a hammer price of 15,500 at de Veres Art and Design auction in Dublin today. This iconic piece of 20th century design is upholstered in black leather and felt composed of 20 individual pieces that zip together. It can configure into a number of different positions and broken down into smaller sofas if needed. It earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest sofa with an example that boasted more than 400 connected sections. This version has 20 sections and measures 5m in a straight length.