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    ROMEO AND JULIET BY YEATS AT BONHAMS

    Friday, February 8th, 2019

    Romeo and Juliet (The Last Act) by Jack Butler Yeats.

    Romeo and Juliet (The Last Act), by Jack Butler Yeats is to be a highlight of Bonhams Modern British and Irish art sale in London on June 12.  Painted in 1927, the much-exhibited work depicts the ending to the play in the Capulet family mausoleum. Waking from a drugged coma, Juliet finds the lifeless body of Romeo, who had committed suicide believing his wife to be dead. Stricken with grief, Juliet takes her own life. Yeats shows the bodies of the star-crossed lovers slumped at the foot of the tomb. It is not known whether the artist imagined the scene, or based it on a production of the play that he had attended.

    Bonhams Director of Modern British and Irish Art Penny Day said, “With Valentine’s Day fast approaching there could not be a better time to announce the sale of Jack Yeat’s magical depiction of the world’s two most famous fictional lovers. The painting wonderfully captures the atmosphere in the theatre as the play reaches its tragic conclusion.”  It is estimated at €90,000-135,000.

    The sale also includes Romeo and Juliet (After Adelaide Claxton) by Walter Sickert estimated at €17,000-23,000.

    ARNOTT’S 1931 BENTLEY AT BONHAMS PARIS AUCTION

    Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

    THE 1931 BENTLEY  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 787,850

    This 1931 Bentley 8-Litre Sports Tourer, which previously belonged to Sir John Alexander Arnott the former chairman of the Irish Times, comes up at Bonhams auction of Les Grandes Marques du Monde at The Grand Palais in Paris on February 7.  It is lot 232 and estimated at 600,000-800,000.

    Arnott’s father, Sir John Arnott, first baronet, was the founder of Arnotts department store chain. He was a major figure in the commercial and political spheres of late-19th century Cork. In 1873 he purchased the Irish Times for £35,000 from the widow of its founder, Major Laurence Knox. John Alexander Arnott, second baronet, became managing director and chairman of the Irish Times in 1900.  He held these positions until his death in 1940. Arnott’s ownership of the 1931 Bentley is thought to date from March 31, 1937, when a continuation logbook was issued for the vehicle. The original owner, James C Clark, was a US cotton millionaire and keen sportsman from New Jersey. Judging from the logbook, the vehicle was unlicensed and hence unused between December 31, 1939 and August 15, 1956 when it was re-licensed by new owner James Robert William Murland in County Down.

    SLEDGE FROM SHACKLETON ANTARTIC EXPEDITION AT BONHAMS

    Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

    The sledge  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £163,718

    A sledge from the first expedition to the Antarctic led by Ernest Shackleton is the top lot in Bonhams Travel and Exploration Sale in London on February 6.  Writing about Shackleton in the current edition of Bonhams Magazine, the writer and campaigner Rosie Boycott recalled his status as a great British hero, “He became famous for making a journey so dangerous that even today, with modern high-tech kit, no one would repeat it. And, because his men loved him and trusted him to a fault, he was able to step from the mountains of South Georgia, not just into legend, but into the ranks of superhero whose name would forever be associated with the highest qualities of leadership, ones that seminars have laboured to teach students ever since.”

    Born in Kilkea, County Kildare in 1874, Ernest Shackleton was a major figure in the history of Antarctic exploration. He was a member of Captain Scott’s Discovery Expedition in 1901-1904, before leading his own British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition in 1907-09. The sledge in the sale was used on the Nimrod expedition by Eric Marshall – one of the four men, with Shackleton, Jameson Adams, and Frank Wild, to undertake the sledge march to the South Pole. Although they had to abandon the attempt, they reached within 100 geographical miles of the Pole – at the time, the furthest south ever travelled.  It is estimated at £60,000-100,000.

    The four men of the Southern Party were accompanied on their journey by four ponies, each pulling an eleven-foot sledge. During the march, the ponies gradually succumbed to the conditions; three had to be humanely killed, and the last fell into a deep crevasse nearly taking the supplies and Frank Wild with it. Two of the four sledges were left where the first two ponies had been put down, as depots for the return journey. The two remaining sledges went further south.

    STRONG IRISH PRESENCE AT BONHAMS SALE

    Thursday, November 8th, 2018

    Mask by Henry Moore will lead Bonhams Modern British and Irish art sale in London on November 14. Estimated at £1-1.7 million it is on the market for the first time in 80 years and has never before been at auction. Only four of the series of 12 masks remain in private hands with others at The Tate, Henry Moore Foundation and Leeds City Gallery.  There is a strong Irish representation in this sale with works by William Scott, Sir John Lavery and F.E. MacWilliam.  The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection:

    Sir John Lavery – Study for Ascot in Rain. UPDATE: THIS MADE £187,500

    Henry Moore – Mask (£1-1.7 million)  UPDATE: THIS MADE £3,248,750

    William Scott – Still Life with Fish (££150,000-250,000)  UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Sir John Lavery – S.S. Ophir (£7,000-10,000)  UPDATE: THIS MADE £21,250

    F E MacWilliam – Reclining Figure (£7,000-10,000) UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    A NEW OWNER FOR BONHAMS

    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.”

    JEWELS GIFTED BY CHESTER BEATTY TO LADY POWERSCOURT AT BONHAMS

    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.

    ENGLISH CLOCK EXHIBITION AT BONHAMS, LONDON

    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.”

    LADY LUCAN’S ESTATE AT BONHAMS IN OCTOBER

    Friday, August 17th, 2018

    Thomas Heapy, A family portrait – presumed to be the wife and children of Richard Bingham. Photo: Bonhams.

    The estate of the late Lady Lucan will lead Bonhams  Private Collections sale in London on October 3.  She was married to John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, who disappeared in 1974, shortly after the attempted murder of his, by then, estranged wife and the murder of the nanny of their children, Sandra Rivett. At the inquest into Rivett?s death, Lucan was identified as her killer, the first member of the House of Lords to be named in court as a murderer since 1760.

    Lord Lucan was never found.  The presumption is that he died. Probate to his estate was granted in 1999 and a death certificate issued in 2016.  Lady Lucan died in 2017.

    Proceeds from the sale will be donated to Shelter, a charity whose objective is to see safe, secure and affordable housing for everyone.

    PORTRAIT OF 20TH EARL OF KILDARE AND HIS WIFE SOLD AT BONHAMS

    Thursday, July 5th, 2018

    James, 20th Earl of Kildare and his wife Emily Mary in the grounds of Carton, by Arthur Devis from the collection of the Duke of Leinster, sold for 262,000 euro at Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale in London on July 4. It had been estimated at 80,000-100,000, and was one of five works from the collection in the sale. They made a combined total of 510,215.

    The painting shows the Earl and his wife seated in the garden of the new family seat at Carton House in Kildare, commissioned by his father in 1739. The Countess is portrayed holding the plans for a bridge.

    Bonhams Representative in Ireland, Kieran O’Boyle, “These five beautiful and important pictures from the collection of the Duke of Leinster created quite the buzz when Bonhams announced their inclusion in today’s Old Master Picture sale. That interest translated into spirited competition among bidders on the telephone and in the room, seeing all five sold, with the wonderful double portrait by Arthur Devis”.

    Portrait of Emily Mary, Duchess of Leinster by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), sold for 92,215.  Portrait of Emilia Olivia, Duchess of Leinster by Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1740-1808), sold for 50,000. A pair of Views of Maynooth Castle by William Ashford P.R.H.A. (1746-1824), sold for 106,000.

    (See post on antiquesandartireland.com for June 17, 2018)

    James, 20th Earl of Kildare and his wife Emily Mary in the grounds of Carton, by Arthur Devis

    Portrait of Emily Mary, Duchess of Leinster by Sir Joshua Reynolds

    A PORTRAIT OF SIR FRANCIS DRAKE AT BONHAMS

    Monday, June 25th, 2018

    This rare portrait of Sir Francis Drake (c1540-1596)  by an unknown artist from the Anglo Dutch School was authenticated by the wart on his nose.  Experts say that genuine portraits include the wart, others do not.  The sea captain, slave trader, naval officer and explorer of the Elizabethan era is shown in expensive half armour as a man of grandeur and social standing.

    It is believed the work dates to the mid 1570’s before his famous triumph as caption and second in command of the British naval defence against the Spanish Armada in 1588.  Regarded as a hero by the English and a pirate by the Spanish he carried out the second circumnavigation of the world. Various locations globally are named after him, including Drake’s Pool in Crosshaven where he is said to have hidden from the pursuing Spanish.  The portrait comes up at Bonhams Old Masters sale in London on July 4 estimated at £300,000-500,000.   UPDATE: THIS MADE £356,750