Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Monday, September 10th, 2018

    The Enemy Within – The Spanish Flu in Ireland 1918-19, a new exhibition on the Spanish Flu that swept across Ireland 100 years ago, opens tomorrow at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Turlough Park, Castlebar, Co. Mayo. The Spanish Flu claimed 23,000 lives and infected some 800,000 people in Ireland over a 12-month period from 1918 to 1919. No group, location or aspect of life was spared. However, the epidemic remains an almost forgotten event in 20th-century Irish history.

    Globally the influenza pandemic infected 500 million people and was one of the deadliest natural disasters un human history.

    The exhibition will explore the folk medicines and rudimentary cures used by the public to combat the illness.  It is to be opened by Professor Ingrid Hook, former Head of the School of Pharmacy at Trinity College and a current member of the Board of the National Museum of Ireland.

    Noel Campbell, curator with the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life stated: “The Spanish Flu has been eclipsed in our collective memory by the political events of that decade and the loss of life during the Great War in particular. It remains an understudied event in history despite claiming more lives worldwide than the Great War. The National Museum of Ireland has developed a programme of remembrance and research which will be informative, engaging and also challenging as we attempt to understand the Spanish Flu’s true significance and probe why this epidemic has been almost forgotten in our study and understanding of 20th-century Irish history.”


    Wednesday, September 5th, 2018

    Epiris today announces that Epiris Fund II, advised by Epiris LLP, has agreed the acquisition of Bonhams, the global auction house, from private shareholders. This is Fund II’s fourth investment. Financial terms are not being disclosed.

    Founded in 1793, Bonhams is one of the world’s largest and most renowned auctioneers of fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewellery. The business holds more than 250 sales a year at its flagship salerooms, which include London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong. In 2017, Bonhams sold more than 50,000 lots, generating over £450 million of hammer sales.

    The company is led by CEO Matthew Girling and CFO Jonathan Fairhurst who will be joined by Bruno Vinciguerra as Executive Chairman. Bruno served for eight years as COO at Sotheby’s, and before that held senior roles at Bain, Dell and Disney.

    Matthew Girling, CEO of Bonhams, said: “We are delighted to have found a buyer that recognises the potential offered by this business and its employees. Bonhams is one of the world’s oldest auctioneers – and one of the most ambitious. During the past 20 years we have pursued a growth strategy that has turned the company into a truly global organisation. The value of Bonhams rests with its people, their skills, their extraordinary expertise and their strong networks across the world. Epiris has a demonstrable and successful track record in investment in growing brands and we believe that together we can continue to expand the business whilst still offering the highest possible level of service wherever we operate.”

    Bruno Vinciguerra, incoming Executive Chairman of Bonhams, said: “Bonhams is a business with great potential and a strong track record. I greatly look forward to working with the team to help deliver the next stage of growth.”

    Alex Fortescue, Managing Partner of Epiris, said: “We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of Bonhams, which is Epiris Fund II’s fourth investment. We have taken a selective approach since the fund was raised, and have been assembling a portfolio of exciting investments, each of which fits our transformative strategy. Investment activity levels remain high and we look forward to adding further to the portfolio at the appropriate time.”

    Owen Wilson, Partner at Epiris, said: “Bonhams is a global business operating in a market with long-term structural growth and high barriers to entry. It is a platform with extensive scope for transformation through investment. We are delighted to be working with Bruno, Matthew and the rest of the team to implement our shared vision.”

    Robert Brooks, shareholder and Chairman of Bonhams, said: “We have always had the intention one day to pass on the business to a new owner who shares our long-term vision for Bonhams. We would like to express our gratitude to Matthew Girling and the team, who have helped us transform the business into a truly global platform. I am immensely proud of what we have achieved at Bonhams and look forward to seeing the business continue to thrive under its new owners.”


    Tuesday, September 4th, 2018
    These before and after pictures show the drawing room at Marchmont House in Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders – winners of this years Historic Houses/Sotheby’s restoration award.
    In what is clearly a labour of love the house has been converted by owners Marchmont Farms Ltd.  from a nursing home into a sumptuous family home available for lettings and functions.  Fire doors and green emergency exit signs were thrown out and replaced with an art collection, Georgian mirrors and paintings appropriate to a Palladian house built around 1750.  The five year restoration of one of the finest interiors in Scotland set out to create a splendid but comfortable home with 21st century comforts and preserved historically significant features such as the magnificent plasterwork by Thomas Clayton.  Marchmont is located about 40 miles south from Edinburgh.

    The drawing room after restoration

    The drawing room before restoration.


    Monday, September 3rd, 2018

    Lady Powerscourt c1930.

    Jewellery gifted to Lady Powerscourt from Sir Chester Beatty from his personal collection will come up at Bonhams in London on September 26.  The two pieces were gifted in the 1950’s and date to the 1920’s.  They represent the Art Deco vogue for jewels in “exotic” taste.  The first – an Art Deco hardstone seal, gem-set and enamel jewel, is French in origin, dated circa 1925.  This was originally a shoulder ornament and then converted to a bracelet.  It is composed of five chalcedony seals of various colours, each engraved with a Qur’anic script and framed by black enamel. These are connected by black enamel and rose-cut diamond links with emerald and ruby bead highlights. It has a pre-sale estimate of £40,000-60,000.

    The second is an Art Deco neohrite, onyx and diamond pendant by Cartier and is estimated at £20,000-30,000.  The rectangular nephrite plaque is carved with numerous motifs that signify blessings and abundant joy. Its reverse is engraved with Chinese characters literally meaning ‘blessings come from blessings’.  It is suspended from an articulated circular plaque decorated with undulating lines of single-cut diamonds and calibré-cut onyx, mounted in platinum.

    Kieran O’Boyle, Head of Bonhams Ireland, said: “We are honoured to bring these two pieces of jewellery to auction for the first time.  Both pieces offer a glimpse into the history of Chester Beatty and his priceless art collection.”

    An avid collector who travelled extensively throughout his life, he built an impressive and diverse collection of works of art and masterpieces from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa and employed a full-time librarian and several academic advisors to appraise items he wished to purchase.

    Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968) – Ireland’s first honorary citizen – philanthropist and one of the most significant art collectors of the 20th Century, was also one of the world’s leading mining engineers, known as the “King of Copper”. After leaving his native New York in 1912 he lived in London for many years and was an important benefactor of the British Museum.  He retired to Ireland in 1950 and in 1953 went on to set up a purpose-built library in Shrewsbury Road, Dublin, initially for research, but then open to the public.  Upon his death in 1968, his priceless collection was bequeathed to a trust for the benefit of the people of Ireland.  He was granted a State funeral and was buried at Glasnevin Cemetry in Dublin.  Today, situated in the grounds of historic Dublin Castle, the Chester Beatty Library is the pre-eminent Irish institution promoting the appreciation and understanding of world cultures and contains some of the finest treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world.

    In  1952, he met Lady Powerscourt* and the two quickly struck up a friendship.  Beatty held the highest respect for Lady Powerscourt’s knowledge, judgement and understanding of his collection, which she would ultimately help him catalogue. Sheila Wingfield, Lady Powerscourt (1906-1992), was a poet and a writer. Wealthy and beautiful, she was largely self-taught and fought various obstacles during her lifetime to gain recognition for her work, despite admiration from contemporary writers such as W.B Yeats, Sir John Betjeman and T.S Eliot. Her best-known work, considered her masterpiece, is her 2000-line poem, Beat Drum, Beat Heart (1946), written about World War II.

    An Art Deco Nephrite, Onyx and Diamond Pendant by Cartier

    An Art Deco Hardstone Seal, Gem-Set and Enamel Jewel

    Sir Alfred Chester Beatty c1911.


    Thursday, August 30th, 2018

    Hook Lighthouse

    The world’s oldest original operational lighthouse will join the National Culture Night celebrations in Ireland on Friday, September 21. The 846-year-old Hook Lighthouse in Co. Wexford will offer free guided tours of the medieval tower at 6 pm, 7 pm and 8 pm.   Places on these tours must be booked in advance on

    There will be a 45-minute tour of the medieval tower with insights and stories of times gone by with some help from a number of historical characters along the way. Having climbed the well worn 115 steps of the tower visitors will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the South East coast of Ireland from the balcony at the top of the lighthouse at the entrance to Waterford harbour.  Hook Lighthouse, which with the nearby village of Crooke in Co. Waterford  is said to have given rise to the expression “by hook or by crook” , was built by William Marshal, the Earl of Pembroke, who built Tintern Abbey and Kilkenny Castle.


    Wednesday, August 29th, 2018

    An exhibition of early English clocks at runs at Bonhams, New Bond Street, London from September 3-14.  The main objective is to ignite a new public interest in exquisite clocks. Drawn from two private clock collectors it will also feature third party loans, including contributions from the Science Museum, the Clockmakers’ Company and the Collection of the 5th Lord Harris from Belmont House. The specimens on display are very rarely in the public eye and many are being displayed together almost certainly for the first time.
    Curator Richard Garnier explained: “In researching the exhibition – that displays the early development of the pendulum clock – I’ve discovered that, in England, clock case design and materials pre-dated cabinetmaking of the period. Clocks were the pinnacle of English fashion and featured expensive woods such as ebony and kingwood, leading the way in cabinet making. It seems that the common wisdom – that clock cases followed developments in the furniture trade – is wrong. It was in fact furniture that seems to have been influenced by clocks, as these new mechanical timepieces were the ultimate in designer technology and became leaders in the development of cabinetmaking.”


    Monday, August 13th, 2018
    A special one off auction of rare and collectible fashion items from premier luxury vintage dealers What Goes Around Comes Around is to be held at Christie’s, New York on September 18. It will feature one of a kind items and vintage pieces from designers like Hermes and Chanel.
    The live auction is timed to immediately follow New York Fashion Week and is expected to attract considerable international participation.
    Highlights from the sale include a Hermes Rouge Impérial Porosus Crocodile Lisse Kelly Sellier Bag, Philippe Barland x Chanel Limited Edition Blue Carbon Surfboard, Hermès Vert Celadon Alligator Lisse Kelly Sellier Bag, Hermès Yannick Manier 30’s Bag, MONSTER x Chanel Black Quilted Adjustable Headphones and a customized Rolling Stones Leather Jacket hand-painted by Charlotte Watts (Charlie Watts’s granddaughter) for the 2016 Rolling Stones exhibition launch. Pictured is a selection from the sale.


    Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

    Sir Edward Barry’s wine observations

    The earliest major work in English on the wines of the ancients, and the first book in English that discusses modern wines is among the current offerings from London specialist booksellers Peter Harrington.  It was written in the 18th century by Dublin based Professor Edward Barry.

    A doctor by training Edward Barry served as physician-general to the forces in Ireland, and professor of physic in the University of Dublin 1745-61.  Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1732 he became a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in 1740 and its president in 1749.  He entered the Irish House of Commons in 1744, representing Charleville in Co. Cork until 1760.

    The first and only edition of Sir Edward Barry’s Observations, historical, critical and medical on the Wines of the Ancients 1775 is priced at £2,250.


    Tuesday, July 31st, 2018

    Precious artefacts recovered from Titanic on the seabed are to be returned to Belfast. A group of museums and film maker James Cameron have teamed up to buy the entire Titanic Artefacts Collection.  Last year Premier Exhibitions, the US firm with rights to salvage items from the Titanic wreck, filed for bankruptcy.  Now The Royal Museums Greenwich, National Museums Northern Ireland, Titanic Belfast and Titanic Foundation plan to buy the Titanic Artefacts Collection and its 5,500 pieces and bring them home to Belfast where the ship was built.  The collection includes a piece of the hull and sets of china from the ship.  The plan is backed by The National Geographic Society and Dr Robert Ballard, the oceanographer who discovered the wreck.  It is understood the bid is in the region of £14.5 million.

    The ship sank after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 people.  The last port of call was Queenstown, now Cobh, in Cork Harbour.

    A section of the hull recovered from the seabed



    Sunday, July 29th, 2018

    A sketch by Christian Dior for model Oxford, Spring/Summer 1947 collection.

    Excitement is building already about the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever to be staged in the UK on the House of Dior.  Spanning the years from 1947 to the present day it opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London next February.

    Christian Dior:  Designer of Dreams will trace the history and impact of one of the most influential couturiers of the 20th century and the six artistic directors who succeeded him.  The show will present more than 500 objects and over 200 rare haute couture garments.

    In 1947 Dior changed the face of fashion with his New Look which redefined the female silhouette and re-invigorated the post war Parisian fashion industry.