Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Saturday, November 18th, 2023
    Edwin Mercer will display this Victorian lady’s vanity box at the Limerick fair this weekend.

    In the run up to Christmas the antique and art season is beginning to really hot up. Limerick racecourse is the venue for the National Antiques, Art and Vintage fair today and tomorrow. Outstanding Irish art will come under the hammer at de Veres in Dublin next Tuesday and Sotheby’s expects around €2 million worth of Irish art to change hands at evening and day sales in London on Tuesday and Wednesday.
    The calendar for the next few weeks is brimful of interest and offers a huge array of choice to eager collectors across all price levels and genres. Limerick Racecourse has proven to be an ideal venue for Hibernian Antique Fairs.  There is easy access and lots of space for antique shops, art galleries and vintage dealers.  An across the board selection this weekend includes a Victorian vanity box complete with travel accessories, bottles and even hat pins. Along with a covetable selection of antique furniture including a c1790 Irish double sided library table with hairy paw feet and Irish art there are selections of clocks and watches, militaria, jewellery, porcelain and silver.

    Rugby Sculpture (2007) by Barry Flanagan at de Veres. UPDATE: THIS MADE 40,000

    Art by Paul Henry, Walter Osborne, Gerard Dillon, Tony O’Malley, Norah McGuinness, William Scott, John Shinnors and Barry Flanagan will feature strongly at de Veres on Tuesday evening.  Bidding on this timed online sale which draws to a close from 6 pm on November 21 is already open.  It is on view at Kildare St. in Dublin for the next four days.

    Bathers, Naylor’s Cove, Bray by Harry Kernoff at Sotheby’s in London. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    The evening and day sales at Sotheby’s in London on November 21 and 22 are part of British and Irish art week, a series of events celebrating the art of Ireland and Britain from the 19th to the 21st centuries.  A total of 54 lots of Irish art will feature with the evening sale headed by two works from Sir John Lavery and two by Jack B Yeats.  The Lavery’s have emerged from the collection of the artists family.  Another evening highlight is a significant early carving by F.E. McWilliam titled Woodhenge.  The estimate for the piece is €229,220-€343,830. Meantime Bonhams first sale on the island of Ireland is now open for bidding online.  The Irish Sale: Vision and Voice will offer art by Paul Henry, Donald Teskey, Sir William Orpen, Maeve McCarthy, Margaret Clarke, Frank McKelvey, Wiliam Leech and Jack B Yeats along with an annotated typescript of Finnegans Wake by James Joyce and  handwritten lyrics of Your Song Saved My Life by Bono.  The auction will be on view at the City Assembly House in Dublin from November 24-28, when the sale will be held.

    Woodhenge by F.E. McWilliam at Sotheby’s. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD


    Tuesday, November 7th, 2023
    Paul Henry – Killary Bay, Connemara, painted 1927-35. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £140,100

    Killary Bay, Connemara by Paul Henry comes up at Bonham’s first sale on the island of Ireland running online from November 17-28. The estimate is €120,000-€180,000. Highlights from The Irish Sale: Vision & Voice will be on view at City Assembly House, Dublin from November 24-28. There will be over 30 works from Irish News Collection, formed over 40 years by the late Jim Fitzpatrick. Among them are Sir William Orpen’s Portrait of Kit (his daughter) painted in 1912 when she was just 6 and works by Margaret Clarke, Harry Kernoff, William Conor, Frank McKelvey, John Behan and Maeve McCarthy. Michael Farrell, John Butler Yeats and William Leech from the collection of Mary Hobart will also feature. The annotated typescript from Finnegans Wake come up with an estimate of €40,000-€60,000.


    Sunday, August 13th, 2023
     Handwritten manuscript working  lyrics to We are the Champions. UPDATE: THESE SOLD FOR £317,500

    Freddie Mercury’s baby grand, the matched wedding rings of Bogie and  Bacall, a first edition of The Great Gatsby from the collection of Charlie Watts and Sir Roger Moore’s Lamborghini skis are among an extraordinary collection of celebrity stuff soon to come up at blockbuster sales in London and Hollywood. Collectibles like these are big business.  With fans everywhere and global auction access online the business is growing exponentially.

    A c1905 Art Nouveau glass vase lamp from the collection of Freddie Mercury. UPDATE: THIS MADE £22,860

    Right now every inch of Sotheby’s 16,000  gallery space at New Bond St. in London is given over to a free exhibition of the world of Freddie Mercury in advance of three auctions on September 6, 7 and 8.  Online Mercury sales already underway will run to September 11, 12 and 13.  On offer are costumes, hand written lyrics, drawings, furniture, decorative and fine art that were part of his life at his London home, Garden Lodge in Kensington.The centre piece of the exhibition is his treasured Yamaha G2 Baby Grand.  More than a decade of hits, from Bohemian Rhapsody to Barcelona, were composed on this treasured piano.  Always kept in pristine condition it is estimated at £2 million – £3 million.  There are handwritten working lyrics for Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t Stop Me Now and Somebody to Love, costumes relating to promotional videos including a two piece stage outfit comprising catsuit and bolero of ivory satin with winged wrists and lower legs inspired by the God Mercury.

     Henri Matisse – Masque Blanc sur Fond Noir from the collection of Freddie Mercury. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £30,480

    Freddie Mercury was a discriminating collector who loved going to auctions.  In 1980 he acquired Garden Lodge, a Georgian style brick villa, and set about creating a home that was both grand and intimate, richly furnished and entirely of his own making. The auction will include art by Matisse, James Tissot, Picasso and Utagawa Hiroshige, Victorian paintings and works on paper, the finest examples of the glass makers art, exceptional fabrics and fine works collected on trips to Japan.  All are on view at Sotheby’s in an exhibition that will close on September 5, the day that would have been Freddie Mercury’s 77th birthday.

    The matching 14 carat gold wedding rings exchanged by Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in May 1945 at Julien’s. UPDATE: THESE SOLD FOR $190,500

    Iconic objects from some of Hollywood’s greatest legends will come up at a sale by Turner Classic Movies and Julien’s Auctions on September 6, 7 and 8.  There is everything from dresses worn by Princess Diana and Audrey Hepburn to a slave costume worn by Princess Leia in Star Wars, Captain Kirk’s Star Fleet command jacket and the 1945 wedding rings of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. James Bond, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Back to the Future and Batman will all feature in a sale celebrating 100 years of Warner Brothers.

    A library of First Edition classics and landmarks from the world of jazz will come up at Christie’s sale of the collection of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts (1941-2021).  The sale is led by a first edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby inscribed by the author to the original Gatsby of the story. There are iconic works of detective fiction by Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle alongside the best of English and American literature of the 20th century. Charlie Watts: Gentleman, Collector, Rolling Stone will take place in London on September 28.  An online sale will run from September 15-29.  Meantime Bonhams will offer 180 lots from the personal collection of Bond actor and UNICEF ambassador Sir Roger Moore (1927-2017) in London on October 4.  This marks the 50th anniversary year of his first appearance as 007.  There is Bond memorabilia like dinner suits and jackets, collectibles like a Hollywood Walk of Fame plaque and personal items like silk ties and cravats along with a pair of his Lamborghini skis.


    Wednesday, July 5th, 2023

    A rare two-day marine chronometer from Ernest Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition, from July 1907 to September 1909 comes up at Bonhams in London on July 13. The chronometer, now mounted in a mahogany mantel case, was first purchased by the Admiralty in 1899 and was one of several chronometers used on the ship, the Nimrod, as part of Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole. The team, led by Shackleton, came to within 97 miles of the magnetic pole, before being forced to turn back due to bad weather. A description of the expedition, written by Shackleton, notes that Jameson Boyd Adams, a Royal Naval Reserve Commander and the first to volunteer for the expedition, “every morning, directly after breakfast, wound up the chronometers and chronometer watches.”

    James Stratton, Bonhams Director of Clocks commented, “This very special chronometer has had a rich and impressive service. Not only was it part of Shackleton’s extraordinary Antarctic expedition, it also travelled the world with the Royal Navy and was on HMS M19 in the First World War.” The estimate is £3,000 – 5,000.


    Monday, March 20th, 2023

    Annotated typescripts from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, mainly from Paris in 1936-37, will come up at Bonhams sale of fine books and manuscripts in Knightsbridge on March 29. Among them are sections of the third chapter of the second book, typed in black ink with Joyce’s autograph ink additions and two genealogies of “Finn” on two separate sheets. There are further revisions and corrections in the hand of either Joyce or more likely one or more of his amanuenses working on his instructions, in two parts. The lot, with 42 leaves in total, is estimated at £45,000-55,000. The sale also includes a series of six signed letters by Roger Casement to  to Max W. Karstensen of the Münchener Zeitung, 6 November 1915 to 6 March 1916, with supporting material. This lot is estimated at £4,000-6,000. UPDATE: The Casement letters made £4,845, the annotated Joyce typescripts were unsold.


    Tuesday, January 24th, 2023
    Irish George I secretaire cabinet. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £22,950

    An important Irish George I walnut and featherbanded, sycamore, cedar and marquetry ‘architectural’ secretaire cabinet c1725, possibly by John Kirkhoffer, comes up at Bonhams in London next month. It is among the highlights at The Connoiseur’s Library sale in Knightsbridge on February 7 and 8 and estimated at £20,000-£30,000. This is one of a group of four similar walnut and marquetry secretaire cabinets, dated circa 1720, which all appear in the 2007 seminal work on Irish furniture by Desmond Fitzgerald, Knight of Glin and James Peill. The authors re-affirm that such walnut cabinets are of Irish origin.

    John Kirkhoffer was probably the son of a German Palatine called Franz Ludwig, who arrived in Ireland as a refugee in 1709 after escaping the Rhineland-Palatinate area. The Kirkhoffer family of Protestant immigrants made it to the counties of Kerry and Limerick before ultimately settling in Dublin. There is some confusion as to the exact identity of this particular John Kirkhoffer. One was recorded as leasing premises for cabinet making in 1736, others are documented as cabinet makers active in Dublin in the 18th century.


    Monday, December 19th, 2022
    Two Female Nudes, a 1979 watercolour, ink and pencil drawing by John Behan

    This watercolour, ink and pencil drawing of Two Female Nudes by the Irish sculptor John Behan sold for £828.75 at Bonhams in London. From the collection of the late design guru Sir Terence Conran the work came up at the sale of the contents of Barton Court, his country house in Berkshire. Conran died in 2020.


    Tuesday, September 20th, 2022
    William Osborne, R.H.A (1823-1901) – Sarah Conolly, mounted side saddle on a chestnut hunter in a landscape  UPDATE: EACH OF THE PORTRAITS MADE £22,950

    An outstanding and rare pair of equestrian portraits of Thomas and Sarah Connolly of Castletown House by William Osborne are among the highlights of the Elliot Collection at Bonhams next December 6 in The Old Rectory, Chilton Foliat Sale. There are few grander country houses in Ireland than Castletown House and few grander families than the Conollys who in one guise or another occupied the magnificent Palladian mansion for more than 240 years. Built in 1722 for William Conolly, speaker of the Irish House of Commons, the house was, by the mid-19th century, occupied by Tom Conolly, described as ‘the eccentric MP for Donegal’, who lived there with his wife Sarah. He who commissioned these equestrian portraits.

    “These portraits will certainly be the most important equine works by Osborne to appear on the market since they were acquired in 1992. I expect them to generate a great deal of interest – both from collectors of important Irish paintings as well as equestrian art,” Charlie Thomas of Bonhams said. The owners of the Old Rectory felt a warm affinity with Ireland. The memorable dining room was inspired by the important Print Room at Castletown House, and they commissioned murals for their bathrooms from the renowed Irish mural artist and decorative painter Michael Dillon. The portraits are each estimated at £20,000-30,000.


    Tuesday, June 7th, 2022
    Psyche or the Legend of Love by Mary Tighe. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £7,012.50

    This is James Barry’s inscribed copy of Mary Tighe’s Psyche of the Legend of Love. The author’s presentation copy of the 1805 private edition is  inscribed for the painter James Barry. Irish romantic poet Mary Tighe (1772-1810) never lived to experience the esteem she enjoys today. She wrote one work only, Psyche or the Legend of Love, which was released in 1805 in a private edition of fifty copies for family and friends. This copy comes up at Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London on June 22 with an estimate of £4,000-6,000.

    Matthew Haley, Bonhams Head of Books and Manuscripts, said: “Mary Tighe was a seminal figure in Irish and indeed British Romanticism. She had many influential admirers during her short life including Thomas Moore, Joseph Cooper Walker and the Ladies of Llangollen but chronic ill health restricted her output to Psyche or the Legend of Love. Earlier this year Bonhams sold a notebook manuscript of her poems, so it is a particular pleasure to be offering this sumptuously-bound copy of the printed work.”


    Friday, May 27th, 2022

    The obstacles faced by James Joyce (1882-1941) in publishing his landmark modernist novel Ulysses would have tested the ingenuity of the hero of the Ancient World after whom the book is named. Judged too risqué to pass the draconian British obscenity laws, the novel was eventually published 100 years ago this year in Paris by Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company, in an edition of 1,000. The original plan to publish on February 2 (Joyce’s 40th birthday) was thwarted by technical issues over the colour of the cover – the writer specified the blue of the Greek flag – and so only two copies were produced that day. To compound the problems, Beach seems to have forgotten to order the extra copies for the press. There should have been 40 press copies but in the event only 13 were produced – unbound and on very poor-quality paper. One of them with a fascinating history of its own is to be sold at Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London on June 22.  It is estimated at £30,000-50,000.

    Bonhams Head of Books and Manuscripts, Matthew Haley, said: “The history of this press copy is as dramatic as the publication of Ulysses itself. It had been sent for review to Jack Squire, editor of the London Mercury. No fan of the Modernists, (the feeling was mutual, Virginia Woolf calling him ‘more repulsive than words can express’), Squire took one look at the novel and ordered his secretary to burn it. But the book was bulky, the stove small and she soon gave up. Some years later this copy, by then incomplete, was found in a cupboard by Squire’s assistant editor, Alan Pryce-Jones, who, defying a further order to consign it to the flames, smuggled it to safety.”