Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
    China is now the second largest art and antiques auction market according to a report by economist Clare McAndrew for The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF).  According to her calculations auction sales in China rose to nearly 6 billion Euros to account for 23 percent of the global market in 2010.
    The USA maintained its lead with 34 per cent, but the UK slipped into third place with 22 percent, down five percent since 2006.
    Meanwhile Bonhams is mounting a campaign to uncover hidden, lost, or unrecognised Chinese or Japanese works of art, bronzes, jades, sculpture, ceramics, pictures or screens in private collections in Northern Ireland. Bonhams specialists Ian Glennie and Katherine Wright will visit the North on the week beginning April 4. A number of Chinese artefacts found in Northern Ireland have already made high prices at Bonhams. A jade hat finial made over £12,000 and a pair of cloisonné vases from the same collection made over £6,000. Anyone interested is asked to get in touch with Bonhams.


    Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
    Furniture, porcelain, glass, silver, paintings and drawings which encompass the long and varied history of the Dutch Royal family are about to come under the hammer in Amsterdam.  Sotheby’s will conduct the four day sale of around 1,600 lots from the estate of the late Queen Juliana of The Netherlands at the RAI Theatre, Europaplein 14, Amsterdam from March 14-17.
    The sale is taking place at the instructions of the Executors on behalf of the  Queen’s daughters, Her Majesty the Queen and Their Royal Highnesses Princess Irene, Princess Margriet and Princess Christina, who have stipulated that the proceeds go to four charities. Many of the lots are from the Palace Soestdijk where Queen Juliana lived throughout her married life, while other items come from the attics of other Royal Palaces, with many drawings and prints previously held in the Royal Archive.
    Only a small number of the pieces were acquired by Queen Juliana and her spouse Prince Bernhard, and by far the greater share was accumulated over the last 150 years from Kings Willem I, II and III, Queen Emma and Queen Wilhelmina. Many of the works still bear inventory marks and  labels to show their origins in the seven Royal Palaces and Royal Residences throughout the Netherlands.


    Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

    Henri Matisse’s Back IV (Nu de Dos, 4eme état), a monumental bronze from the most celebrated and ambitious sculptural series of the artist’s career, will lead the Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in New York on November 3. Matisse’s Back series of four life-sized relief sculptures is featured in major museums collections around the world, including the Tate Gallery in London, MOMA in New York, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.

    The upcoming sale marks the first time that any of these colossal bronzes has appeared at auction.  Christie’s expects Back IV, the final, definitive statement in this sequence of progressively abstracted female figures, to fetch $25,000,000-35,000,000.  Of the twelve bronze casts that were made of this culminating relief, the work to be offered is one of only two examples remaining in private hands. As the most starkly refined and highly architectural of the Back reliefs, Back IV divides the female form into three nearly symmetrical zones, with the woman’s head, hair and spine fused into a startlingly stripped-down columnar figure at center of the work.


    Monday, October 4th, 2010

    The rare emerald cut pink diamond. (click on image to enlarge)

    An exceptionally rare 24.78 carat fancy intense pink diamond of the purest hue is to be sold at Sotheby’s in Geneva on November 16.  The market for coloured diamonds is extremely strong and they are the most sought after gemstones in the world’s auction rooms today.

    This emerald cut stone carries a type IIa classification which comprises less than 2% of all of the world’ diamonds.   Though graded VVS2 quality the Gemological Institute of America say the stone may be internally flawless after repolishing.  It was purchased directly from Mr. Harry Winston 60 years ago and has not been on the open market since.

    David Bennett, Sotheby’s International Jewellery department chairman, Europe and the Middle East, said: “This stone is one of the most desirable diamonds I have ever seen. What makes it so immensely rare is the combination of its exceptional colour and purity with the classic emerald-cut”. It is estimated at $27-38 million Swiss Francs. about 20-25 million euro.
    UPDATE:  IT MADE 45,442,5000 Swiss Francs, or 33.7 million euro


    Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

    A look at the Adams Country House Collections Sale at Slane by

    Here are some prices achieved by some of the pieces featured on the film. The slope front bureau made 340, the Irish armchair made 520,  the inlaid chest behind the armchair made 11,500, the talboy made 3,500, the William Moore pier table made 20,000, the Killarney work table made 4,800,  the Japanned cabinet on its carved giltwood stand made 8,400, the Old Bridge bureau made 18,000, the Irish double sided tea table made 8,500 and the wine cistern made 55,000.  The Spode dessert service sold for 1,200,  the Ziegler carpet sold for 17,000, the hunt table made 5,500 and the Irish sideboard made 8,200.


    Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

    Fabulous antique Irish furniture is a feature of the Country House Collections sale by James Adam at Slane Castle in Co. Meath on October 5. There are 796 lots on offer and the catalogue is online at (See earlier post for September 21 on


    An Irish flat-carved giltwood mirror, c.1760, the high shouldered scrolled broken pediment filled with a ho-ho bird, the deep apron with a shell, is estimated at 8,000-12,000. (click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: IT MADE 9,000

    This pair of George I Irish mahogany side chairs, c.1720, each with shell carved top rail above a vase-shaped splat, and drop in seat covered in floral damask, standing on shell capped cabriole supports, with claw and ball feet will be offered by James Adam at Slane. They are estimated at 25,000-35,000. (click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: THE pair sold for 28,000

    A sycamore, satinwood, harewood, boxwood and ebony line inlaid D-shaped pier table, attributed to William Moore of Dublin, c.1780, the fan inlaid rosewood banded top centred with a burr walnut panel, and with ribbon tied laurel border, the frieze with ribbon tied swags of harebells, on canted square tapering legs with hare bell pendants, headed by oval burr walnut panels, and with lower raised banding is estimated at 20,000-25,000. (click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: IT made 20,000


    Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

    A memory of W.B. Yeats walking in Dublin by Patrick Collins, dated 1969, was the top lot at de Veres. It made 29,000.

    ANYBODY buying Irish art right now is getting very good value for money according to John de Vere White.  de Vere’s art auctions brought in around 480,000 with their 220 lot Irish art sale on September 28.  Just under 60 per cent of works on offer sold by lot, over 90 per cent sold by value. This means that all the most expensively estimated works found buyers.

    The top lot was a Patrick Collins oil from 1969, A memory of W.B. Yeats walking in Dublin, which made a hammer price of 29,000.  A portrait by Dan O’Neill entitled Louise made 18,000 and a work by Donald Teskey made 6,000.  All these paintings would have sold for far more money than this two years ago.  Kestrel by Edward McGuire sold for 17,500 and Michael Cullen’s Mother and Child Sleeping made 8,700. A bronze by F.E. McWilliam, Standing Couple, made 10,200 as did Markey Robinson’s Amsterdam.

    In a Cork art sale that brought in 275,000 including fees, where 64 per cent of lots on offer found buyers, the top works failed to sell.  Nonethless auctioneer Morgan O’Driscoll was happy with the results of his Irish Art sale in Cork on September 27.  The market took the view that the top lots, two horse paintings by Peter Curling, were over estimated at 50,000-60,000 each. (See post for September 19). Around 30,000 would have been more realistic in the current climate.  In the event each one was bid up to 24,000 before being withdrawn.

    This work by Liam Belton RHA (b.1947) 'Chimu Vessel with Seven Eggs' made 9,600 at the Morgan O'Driscoll art sale in Cork on September 27.

    Buyers were out in force and around 30 internet bidders were a new feature in this sale.  Prices for Markey Robinson. Graham Knuttel, Arthur Maderson and Kenneth Webb held up very well.  The main Gerard Dillon work, entitled Landscape Artist and estimated at 20,000-30,000, was withdrawn at 18,000 but an oil and collage by Dillon entitled Hiding in Masks and estimated at 4,000-6,000, sold for 3,200.  Similarly a Colin Middleton landscape, Meadows, Killough, Co. Down dated June 1952 was bid up to 32,000 against an estimate of 40,000-50,000, and was withdrawn.
    A set of limited edition artist proof prints by Pauline Bewick, The Midnight Court Series, made 1,900 over an estimate of 1,500-2,000 and there was no shortage of sales for works estimated at under 1,000. The top lot sold was entitled Roscoff, a large impressionistic landscape of the port in Brittany by Arthur Maderson. It made 12,000.


    Monday, September 27th, 2010

    The Meissen MacElligot thimble to be sold at Bonhams. (click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: THE THIMBLE FAILED TO SELL.

    A tiny porcelain thimble decorated with the coat of arms of an Irish aristocrat, the only recorded armorial thimble created at the Meissen factory, is a feature at the concluding part of the sale of The Hoffmeister Collection of Meissen Porcelain at Bonhams in London on November 24.  Worth far, far more than its weight in gold the thimble is decorated with the coat of the arms of the MacElligot family.  Many members of this well known Kerry family served in the armies of the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. This example was created with two matching snuff boxes and would have been given as a token of love.

    Bonhams are selling the thimble together with one of the oval snuff-box covers. It was commissioned by Peter Julius Caesar, Freiherr (Baron) von MacElligot and Baron of Trughenamy, County Kerry (1715-81), probably as a gift for his first wife.
    Many members of the Irish nobility and their descendents left Ireland after the Treaty of Limerick in 1691 and joined Continental armies. MacElligot is thought to be a descendent of Colonel Roger MacElligot, who joined the Irish Brigade in France in 1697.
    The Hoffmeisters assembled the greatest collection in the world of highly important Meissen armorial porcelain, and, in the 300th anniversary year of the founding of the Meissen factory – Europe’s first porcelain factory – the sale is set to rouse much excitement amongst collectors.  The collection has been on show at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg for the past ten years.
    The most expensive item in the Hoffmeister collection is a teapot from1713-14, decorated with the coat of arms of Sophie of Hanover, mother of King George I of England, (estimate £200,000-300,000).  The tiny thimble carries an estimate of £20,000-30,000.
    UPDATE:   The Hoffmeister Collection of Meissen Porcelain Part III  at Bonhams, New Bond Street made £790,560, selling 81% by lot and 71% by value. This brought the total for the three sales of finest Meissen to £2,988,120.


    Sunday, September 19th, 2010
    THE  45TH Irish Antique Dealers Fair – an important annual showcase for the Irish trade – takes place at the RDS in Ballsbridge, Dublin from September 24 to September 26 with preview on Thursday, September 23 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
    There will be over 40 dealers in attendance with a new layout in the  Main Hall.  Some of them, well known over years in the Irish antique business, no longer operate from shops so the fair is an unrivalled opportunity to see what they have on offer in a new layout is designed for easier access. Opening times are from noon to 9 p.m. on Friday, September 23, noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 25 and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on September 26.
    The video below gives a flavour of the fair.


    Sunday, September 19th, 2010

    Equestrian paintings by  Tipperary based artist Peter Curling are among the top lots at the Morgan O’Driscoll art auction at the Radisson Hotel at Little Island, Cork on Monday September 27 at 6.30 p.m.
    The catalogue lists 275 lots including works by John Shinnors, Liam
    Belton, Louis le Brocquy, Cecil Maguire, Basil Blackshaw, Kenneth
    Webb, Gerard Dillon, Markey Robinson, Colin Middleton, Frank McKelvey and Hector McDonnell.
    A watercolour by Louis le Brocquy from 1948 entitled Scene
    near Lucan is estimated at 12,00-15,000.  A set of eleven limited
    edition prints by Pauline Bewick, The Midnight Court series, is
    estimated at 1,500-2,000 and Colin Middleton’s landscape, Meadows,
    Killough, Co. Down is estimated at 40,000-50,000. Moonlight by Kenneth
    Webb is estimated at 15,000-25,000 and a mixed media work by Gerard
    Dillon, Landscape Artist is estimated at 20,000-30,000.

    More than 200 works of Irish art will come under the hammer at the De

    Veres sale at the D4 Berkley Hotel on Tuesday September 28 at 6


    Most of the work on offer is completely fresh to the market and

    estimates are competitive.  The sale includes major pieces by Patrick

    Collins, Camille Souter, John Shinnors, Letitia Hamilton, Edward

    McGuire and Daniel O’Neill.

    There is a strong offering of sculpture  including pieces by Conor

    Fallon, Rowan Gillespie, John Behan and Patrick O’Reilly.

    A particular highlight of the sale is a collection of paintings by

    Markey Robinson from two different Dublin private collections.

    Included among these is an Amsterdam street scene, a world away from

    the usual subject matter of this artist.  The gouache of Amsterdam above is estimated at 7,000-10,000