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    Tuesday, September 20th, 2022
    William Osborne, R.H.A (1823-1901) – Sarah Conolly, mounted side saddle on a chestnut hunter in a landscape 

    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.”


    Thursday, May 19th, 2022
    The Train through the Woods by Jack Butler Yeats. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    A painting by Jack B Yeats once in the collection of actor Peter O’Toole comes up at Bonhams sale of Modern British and Irish Art in London on June 22. Painted in 1925 The Train through the Woods is estimated at £40,000-60,000. There is art in the sale by Hughie O’Donoghue and Sir John Lavery.


    Tuesday, April 26th, 2022
    Sonja Landweer (1933 – 2019) – Lidded pot, 1976. UPDATE: THIS MADE £892.50

    This lidded pot by Sonja Landweer comes up as lot 64 at Bonhams Design sale in London on April 28. It is estimated at £800-£1,200. The sale also includes a vase by Sonja Landweer. The Amsterdam born artist came to Ireland to teach ceramics at the Kilkenny Design Workshops. Her work came to the attention of Irish gallerist David Hendricks, and she held many successful solo exhibitions of her unique ceramics in his Dublin gallery from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Along with Barrie Cooke she founded the Kilkenny Arts Festival (formerly the Kilkenny Arts Week) and hosted many Irish and international writers, poets, and artists, including Seamus Heaney. In 1995 when accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature, Heaney read his poem To a Dutch Potter in Ireland, inspired by his friendship with Sonja. Her work is held in many public collections including the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, the Princessehof Ceramics Museum in Leeuwarden, the Hildesheim Städtisches Museum in Germany, the Museum of Decorative Arts in Copenhagen, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin and the Ulster Museum, Belfast. She was awarded the prix artistique at the Biennale Internationale de Ceramique d’Art at Vallauris, France in 1974 and an honorary award from the National College of Art & Design in Dublin in 1992 


    Saturday, March 26th, 2022

    This Chinese Export lacquered work box and writing stand has provenance by repute to the Drogheda born Irish actress Eliza O’Neill, Lady Wrixon-Becher (1791-1872). Regarded as the foremost tragic actress on the London stage and  worthy successor to Sarah Siddons she earned a reputation for meanness, possibly because she had a large family to support. Thackery included this trait  in his portrait of Irish actress Emily Costigan in his novel Pendennis.  At the height of her fame she returned to Ireland in 1819 and concluded her career. Eliza married Sir William Wrixon-Becher (1780-1850), improving landlord, MP for Mallow and an amateur actor.  Mother of three sons and two daughters she spent the greater part of her retirement at her family home at Ballygiblin, Co. Cork.  The workbox comes up at Bonhams Home and Interiors sale in Knightsbridge on March 29-30 with an estimate of £600-£800 (€714-€953). UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD


    Friday, March 18th, 2022
    George III Irish provincial silver marrow scoop – Thomas John Burke, Limerick, 1784 – 1800. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £573.75

    A rare Limerick silver marrow scoop comes up at Bonhams Home and Interiors sale in London on March 29-30. Made by Thomas Burke it is estimated at £800-£1,000. The sale features a number of items of Irish silver from the Peter Ticher collection which includes a pair of George II Irish cast silver candlesticks by Matthew Walker, Dublin, 1730–1731. Estimates range from £100-£4,000. Highlights include An 18th century Irish silver cream jug with no maker’s mark, only crowned harp and Hibernia, circa 1750 (£500-£600); a collection of Irish silver bright-engraved flatware, varying makers (£400-£600) and eleven Irish provincial silver teaspoons by Carden Terry & Jane Williams, Cork, stamped with maker’s mark CT over IW, and stamped Sterling, circa 1810 (£300-£400).


    Wednesday, March 16th, 2022
    William Bartlett: Returning from the Fair. UPDATE: THIS MADE £35,250

    In the 19th century, life for tenanted farmers on the islands off the west coast of Ireland was tough. Their small holdings were barely sufficient to support livestock, and they faced the additional challenge of transporting back home the animals they had bought at fairs on the mainland. Since their boats were too small to accommodate the cattle, the farmers and their wives had no option but to tow the beasts across the treacherous sounds. The drama of this perilous journey is depicted in William Bartlett’s Returning from the Fair at Bonhams 19th Century Paintings sale in London on  March 30. It is estimated at £20,000-30,000.

    William Bartlett (1858 -1932) was only 20 when in 1878 he first became captivated by the west of Ireland during a summer visit made with the American painter, Howard Helmick. It was not until 1886, however, after many years of artistic training – mostly in Paris where he absorbed the innovative naturalism of Jules Bastien-Lepage – that he returned to the area. The Connemara light and the hardships experienced by the people inspired some of Bartlett most powerful works and proved a life-long inspiration. In a note on Returning from the Fair, painted in 1888, he wrote, ‘To the periodical Markets, held on the mainland, the inhabitants of the outlying islands are often obliged (owing to the smallness of the boats) to tow their cattle after them.’


    Friday, February 11th, 2022
    Iohannes Haughton (probably John Houghton, Irish, fl. 1741-1775): A mid 18th century sculpted white marble bust of Jonathan Swift. UPDATE: THIS MADE £10,500 AT HAMMER – £13,375 WITH PREMIUM

    This sculpted portrait of Jonathan Swift by John Houghton comes up as lot 185 at Bonhams Connoisseur’s library sale at Knightsbridge in London on February 15. There is an interesting provenance to the piece by repute displayed at the Swift ancestral home, Swiftsheath, Kilkenny, Ireland. It came from Robert Swift Esq. (d. 1842), great great grandson of Jonathan Swift’s uncle Godwin Swift, 1627-1695 who raised the writer when his own father died prematurely, and was presented in 1847 to Godwin Swift Esq., cousin of Robert Swift. It passed by descent to
    Godwin Swift Esq., grandfather of the present owner and author of a handwritten family record (one of a several) compiled between 1928 and 1940, whereby the bust is mentioned. It is estimated at £5,000-8,000.


    Thursday, February 3rd, 2022
    George Chinnery – A Tanka boat dwelling with Tanka boatwomen and pigs, Macau, 

    The peripatetic life of the 19th century Irish painter George Chinnery (1774-1852) took him from the Tipperary of his birth to London, then to Serampore in West Bengal via Madras, Calcutta and Dacca. Fleeing his creditors, he arrived in Macau in 1825 and made the island his home until his death in 1852. He became fascinated by the artistic possibilities of Macau’s shoreline and the local tradespeople going about their everyday lives. One of his paintings on this theme, A Tanka boat dwelling with Tanka boatwomen and pigs, Macau highlights Bonhams Travel and Exploration sale in Knightsbridge on March 2. It is estimated at £15,000-20,000.

    Rhyanon Demery, Bonhams senior picture specialist, said: “A Tanka boat dwelling with Tanka boatwomen and pigs, Macau vividly depicts members of the Tanka people – a distinct and ancient ethnic group who lived along the shore of Macau. Often viewed as outcasts by the Chinese authorities Tankas lived on junks, tank being the Cantonese word for boat and ka the word for family. Today they are more usually known as Boat People and, although many have now built lives on dry land, they preserve the unique culture that so captivated George Chinnery nearly 200 years ago.”