Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    May 14th, 2023
    This fine Regency mahogany and satinwood bureau, possibly a Cork piece, made a below estimate hammer price of just €650 at the James Adam Library Collection sale

    Who would have guessed that the longer term salvation of the antique furniture market might be in salvage. In a world where fast fashion needs to be reconsidered and sustainability is on the up there is more room than ever before for products that are restored and recycled. An antique piece preserves scarce resources and has a long life cycle. Old furniture was created with hand operated tools, glues and dyes from natural sources using the ultimate green practices.  Contrast this with today where around 90% of furniture comes from countries with not much in the way of regulation about water pollution, air pollution or responsible forest management. In the UK it is estimated that around 1.7 tons of furniture waste, which is not recycled, is generated each year.

    This set of six chairs including two carvers made just €22 at a South Dublin Auctions sale 

    A study by carbon clear compared an antique chest of drawers with a newly made version and concluded that antique furniture is likely to have a carbon footprint 16 times lower than modern furniture.  Many people who buy furniture are completely unaware of this even though the majority of buyers will consider sustainability. There is much competition at auction for the best pieces but the market for ordinary antique furniture has been at rock bottom for years.  It is possible to pick up pieces for next to nothing at many sales. Buyers have been looking the other way for so long that many auctioneers will simply refuse to consider taking old tables, chairs, cupboards, wardrobes, even the beautiful  Georgian linen presses that once graced elegant homes to the market.  Given that the cost of cartage is more than many such pieces will actually make at auction it is not too difficult to see where they are coming from. If the heirs don’t want it – as is so often the case – once treasured objects from house clearances end up in the skip.  In a world of diminishing resources  and massive climate change this is nothing short of madness.

    This Edwardian oak gateleg table sold for just €30 at Sheppards

    Brown furniture is lovely.  It isn’t all new and shiny nor should it be.  There is nothing wrong with  signs of wear and tear on a chair or a table that has already given years of service.  Something that is far gone can be restored or re-purposed imaginatively.  It can be repaired, stained, varnished, painted, stencilled or otherwise upcycled.  Processes like this help the planet.Antique and vintage pieces come from an era when things were made to last and expected to give a lifetime of value.  The abhorrent idea of built in obsolescence, widely practiced now, was unheard of then.  So instead of supporting the sort of greedflation rampant these days you might profitably consider making one small change by opting to buy old rather than new.  The opportunity to do so is available at auctions everywhere.  In the process you will help our earth to survive and almost certainly help your own budget as well.  There is some way to go before salvation of the antique furniture market is achieved and the planet is salvaged. 

    This 19th century Irish pine dresser made a hammer price of €210 at Fonsie Mealy’s sale at Borleagh Manor in April.


    May 13th, 2023
    Michael Collins bible, with him when he died. UPDATE: THIS MADE 12,500 AT HAMMER

    The pocket bible carried by Michael Collins, with him when he died, comes up at Whyte’s Eclectic Collector timed online auction in Dublin today. Collins would have received a copy of this Protestant version of the scriptures when working as a post office clerk in London from 1907-1910. Lot 269 is estimated at €3,000-€5,000.  The sale, which ends from 2 pm, has a wide variety of political, sporting and historic collecibles from ancient Celtic stone heads to a signed Beatles photograph and a Rory Gallagher archive.


    May 13th, 2023

    This diamond dress ring by Castlebar based master jeweller Nigel O’Reilly will come up as lot 177 at Adams fine jewellery and watches online sale on May 16.  With a central rose cut diamond of 3.28 carats and a mount setting with pave diamonds it is estimated at €8,000-€12,000.  O’Reilly’s work has been included at exhibitions in Los Angeles and at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. He is the first Irish high jewellery master to have work featured at Sotheby’s Important Jewels sale in New York and is included in Sotheby’s haute joaillerie collection.  Viewing is underway in Dublin and the catalogue features a number of pieces selected and modelled by Sarah Greene. The Cork actress has just completed filming Sexy Beasts for Paramount Plus, plays in the upcoming Irish thriller In the Land of Saints and Sinners with Liam Neeson, Ciaran Hinds and Kerry Condon and in Terrence Malicks new film The Last Planet. UPDATE: THIS MADE 9,000 AT HAMMER


    May 13th, 2023
    An Empire design centre table. UPDATE: THIS MADE 500 AT HAMMER

    Temptation beckons in a live online sale of ecclesiastical and decorative items from the Franciscan Community in Ireland and some other clients on May 16-17 at 5 pm on each day.  A variety of paintings, Oriental rugs, statues, garden seating, pedestals, desks, candlesticks and antique furniture among 874 lots. Leading the auction is a 19th century oil on canvas titled The Inquisition, an inlaid marble fire surround in the manner of Pietro Bossi and a marble statue of St. Joseph and Child.  All are estimated at €2,000-€4,000.  Collectibles include an early carved wood Penal cross (€800-€1,200), a baroque oak dome top chest (€600-€1,000), an outdoor limestone font with inscription (€500-€1,000) and a finely made model of a church complete with oak furnishings (€400-€800).  There is a Georgian brass dial long case clock, an early Victorian d-end dining table, a pair of Chippendale style wingback armchairs and an Empire centre table with an amboyna and macassar top and ebonised supports among a good selection of furniture. The auction will be conducted by Aidan Foley in co-ordination with Niall Mullen. It is on view at Cook St., Dublin 8 today, tomorrow and Monday and the catalogue is online.

    An inlaid fire surround in the manner of Pietro Bossi UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,900 AT HAMMER


    May 12th, 2023
    Henri Rousseau –  Les Flamants made $43,535,000, a new record © Christie’s Images Limited 2023.

    Masterpieces from the S.I. Newhouse collection and the 20th century evening sale brought in $506,571,600 at Christie’s in New York last night. The evening began with 16 works from the collection of S.I. Newhouse, which achieved a total of $177,792,000, selling 100% by lot, and 105.6% by low estimate. With this sale, the Collection of S.I. Newhouse is now established as the sixth highest collection total of all time, combined with a total of $237,975,000 made during sales in 2018 and 2019. Highlights included Francis Bacon’s 1969 Self-Portrait, which made $34,622,500, and Willem de Kooning’s Orestes, which brought $30,885,000. 

    The 20th Century Evening Sale offered works from a strong group of estates and private collections. The top lot was Henri Rousseau’s, Les Flamants, which made $43,535,000. Les Flamants – a rare example with impeccable provenance – soared past the artists’ previous record of $4,400,000 set in 1993, bringing $43,535,000. Other highlights included, Pablo Picasso’s Nature morte à la fenêtre, which sold for $41,810,000; Ed Ruscha’s Burning Gas Station, which made $22,260,000; Georgia O’Keeffe’s Black Iris VI, which sold for $21,110,000, and David Hockney’s The Gate, which realised $19,385,000.

    Francis Bacon’s 1969 Self-Portrait made $34,622,500 © Christie’s Images Limited 2023.


    May 11th, 2023
    Norah Allison McGuinness HRHA (1901-1980) – The Garden at Rockbrook. UPDATE: THIS MADE 1,800 AT HAMMER

    This gouache on paper by Norah McGuinness comes up as lot 28 at Morgan O’Driscoll’s current online Irish art auction. The online catalogue for this sale – which runs until May 22 – includes work by Sean McSweeney, Nano Reid, Tony O’Malley, Hughie O’Donoghue, Basil Blackshaw, Charles Tyrrell and many others. The McGuinness is estimated at €2,000-3,000.


    May 10th, 2023

    A letter handwritten in 1971 by Lord Mountbatten from Classiebawn Castle on the subject of security comes up as lot 336 at Whyte’s timed online Eclectic Collector sale in Dublin on May 13. It was sent to Garda Superintendent Long. Written on Classiebawn Castle crested notepaper Mountbatten thanks Superintendent Long for ‘coming here to see me about the question of security and for the admirable arrangements you made for my protection’. He mentions enclosing a paperback edition of The Life And Times Of Lord Mountbatten by John Terraine. The book is with this lot, inscribed ‘Pauline Long, October 1971’.

    Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA on 27 August 1979, by a bomb in his boat. The letter is estimated at €800-€1,200. Viewing for the sale gets underway at Whyte’s Galleries at Molesworth St., Dublin today. UPDATE: THIS MADE 750 AT HAMMER


    May 10th, 2023
    PERCY FRENCH (1854 – 1920) – On the road to Falcarragh

    This watercolour by Percy French made a hammer price of €5,000 at the opening day of Sheppards four day sale in Durrow, Co. Laois this week. A set of Royal letters patent from King Charles II dated 1667 made €6,500, a 19th century walnut and marquetry longcase clock made €5,500, a George III automaton striking bracket clock made €4,300, a 19th century Chinese hardwood cabinet on cabinet made €4,200, a pair of 18th century Ottoman flintlock pistols made €2,200, a pair of hide upholstered wingback armchairs made €2,300, an 18th century Irish settee made €2,000, a Killarney cabinet made €1,800, a George III side table made €2,400, a George III inlaid breakfront bookcase made €4,400 and a Chinese archaic bronze bell made €28,000.

    This Chinese archaic bronze bell made €28,000 at hammer.


    May 9th, 2023

    Alpha, a cast and fabricated unique bronze by renowned Irish sculptor Eilis O’Connell made a hammer price of €2,400 at the James Adam timed online Mid-Century Modern sale in Dublin today. It had been estimated at €1,200-1,600. The sculpture was used as the invitation image for the 2015 exhibition Eilis O’Connell: Khôra at Hillsboro Fine Art, Dublin, An armchair by Eileen Gray made €3,400, a set of four rosewood chairs by Nils Otto Muller made €2,600, a 2003 oil on canvas, Transverse by Mark Francis, made €13,000, Interior with Wine Jar by Stephen McKenna made €11,000 and a chaise longue by le Corbusier made €2,400.


    May 8th, 2023
    Corban Walker – UNTITLED VUSD 006, 2005. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    This unique pigment inkjet print by Corban Walker comes up as lot 74 at de Veres contemporary art auction for Pallas Projects which runs until May 11. Walker represented Ireland at the 54th Venice International Art Biennale, 2011. He received the Pollock Krasner Award in 2015. His work is in the collections of Solomon R. Guggenheim  Museum, New York, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Mitsubishi Estate Co. Tokyo and other important collections. The Crawford Art Gallery in Cork presented a survey of his work in 2022.  The fourth Pallas Projects/Studios have run since 2014, will help the cutting-edge arts organisation continue their mission to support grassroots arts initiatives, emerging artists and maintaining artists studios. The sale features work by over 80 established and up and coming Irish artists. The catalogue is online and works are on view at the City Assembly House at South William St. in Dublin.