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    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.


    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 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


    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


    Sunday, June 17th, 2018

    Arthur Devis (1712-1787) – James, Ist Duke of Leinster and his wife Emily  UPDATE: THIS MADE £262,000

    This 1753 painting by Arthur Devis (1712-1787) shows James, Ist Duke of Leinster and his wife Emily seated in the grounds of Carton – a garden said to have become the model on which all later gardens in Ireland were styled.  Emily, who played an important role in the development of the house and estate, holds designs for a new bridge.  She created the Chinese Room and the shell cottage on the estate,  The grounds were re-designed in the naturalistic style of Capability Brown, incorporating an informal park, artificial lake and island, a kitchen garden and hothouses.

    Emily Lennox married James FitzGerald, 20th Earl of Kildare  and the future 1st Duke of Leinster at Richmond House, the London residence of her parents.  Those parents, the Duke and Duchess of Richmond, opposed the match at first, preferring an English man.  The wedding was magnificent but it was rumoured, incorrectly, that her parents had not given her a shilling. In fact she got £10,000, the same as her two younger sisters.  The marriage was a happy one and they had 19 children.  The work, from the collection of the current Duke of Leinster, comes up at Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale in London on July 4 estimated at £80,000-120,000.


    Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

    A pair of views of Maynooth Castle, by William Ashford P.R.H.A. (1746-1824)  comes up at Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale in London on July 4.  These fresh to market works are from the collection of the Duke and Duchess of Leinster.   Painted in the Anglo-Irish Romantic tradition, they were commissioned by William FitzGerald, 2nd Duke of Leinster.

    Ashford, in a remarkably short space of time, had advanced from being a flower painter to becoming one of the most accomplished and sought-after view painters in Ireland.  He  was elected as the first President of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1823, the year before his death. Depicting the ruins of the former FitzGerald family seat, the ‘Views of Maynooth Castle’ are signed ‘W. Ashford’ and dated 1779 and 1780. In the Carton inventory of 1885 they were listed as hanging in the passage by the principle staircase of the residence. The paintings are estimated at £80,000 – 120,000.

    WILLIAM ASHFORD P.R.H.A. (Birmingham 1746-1824 Dublin) Views of Maynooth Castle, a pair

    WILLIAM ASHFORD P.R.H.A. (Birmingham 1746-1824 Dublin) Views of Maynooth Castle, a pair



    Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

    Jack B. Yeats – Donnelly’s Hollow.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 391,475

    Donnelly’s Hollow by Jack B. Yeats will lead Bonhams Modern British and Irish art sale in London on June 13.   The painting depicts the natural amphitheatre at the Curragh in County Kildare where, in 1815, the Irish boxer Dan Donnelly defeated the English champion, George Cooper. The victory assumed lasting political significance in Ireland as a symbol of resistance to the British occupation, and a commemorative monument was erected at the site.

    Donnelly was famous for the extent of his reach – he had unusually long arms – and for the ferocity of his punch which was delivered with bare knuckles (boxing gloves only became compulsory in 1867). He was, however, as wild out of the ring as in it. His prodigal lifestyle finally caught up with him, and he died penniless in 1820 at the age of 32. For many years, his right arm was displayed in a pub in Kilcullen.

    Boxing was a passion for the sports-mad Yeats, and Donnelly’s Hollow is one in a series of paintings that revisit in maturity the obsessions of the artist’s youth. The scene shows a group of visitors paying homage at the monument, and features Yeats himself standing on the hill looking down on it, meditatively. It is estimated at £300,000-500,000 (€340,000-570,000).


    Monday, March 5th, 2018

    Irish silver box by William Clarke, Cork c1730

    An 18th century Irish Provincial silver box comes up at Bonhams Home and Interiors sale in London on March 7.

    The c1730 box by William Clarke, Cork has a hinged cover chased with rococo decoration with butterflies on the base.  It is estimated at £1,000-1,500.

    On March 21 Bonhams will offer garden notes and a library catalogue for Burton Park, near Churchtown, Mallow, Co. Cork. It will come up as part of a fine books and manuscripts sale and comprises an account of seeds and plants in the garden and runs from April 1683 to February 1683-4.  The estimate is £1,000-1,500.


    Thursday, November 9th, 2017

    Maria Cregan’s manuscript.

    An autograph letter journal by Maria Cregan, with an eyewitness account of the Easter Rising, comes up at Bonhams in London on November 15. Her day to day account opens as follows:  I went with Carrie Slacke and her son Randal to Sugarloaf Mountain for the Easter holiday… At Harcourt Street the first thing I noticed was a wrecked motor car opposite the station and rather many people about but also that there were no trams. I walked towards Stephen’s Green and asked had there been an accident and was told there had been a rising of Sinn Feiners. They had taken the College of Surgeons and the Green, had dug trenches in the green, barricaded the streets with all kinds of vehicles &c and had run up the Republican Flag on the College of Surgeons (this last I could see myself from the corner of Cuffe Street). I asked a man who was standing with a bicycle if I could get through, but he said it was too dangerous and even as he spoke a volley rang out…”

    There are entries made for each day from Tuesday April 25 to Friday May 6, 1916.  The ten pages on thin office style paper, signed and dated Maria J. Cregan, May 6, 1916 carry an estimate of £700-900.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £1,875


    Monday, May 15th, 2017

    A typed Order of Surrender from the 1916 Rising signed by Patrick Pearse comes up at Bonhams  in London on June 14.  One of the most significant documents in Irish 20th century history it ended the abortive attempt to overthrow British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish State.  After six days of bitter fighting Pearse offered the surrender to prevent further bloodshed.

    Ronan McGreevy editor of Centenary – Ireland Remembers 1916 to be published this autumn explained the significance of the order: “The terse document expresses Pearse’s belief that he would certainly be executed, but that all the others would be spared. Instead the British executed 15 leaders, including Pearse, and imprisoned thousands. This brutal military fiat turned Irish public opinion against British rule in Ireland exactly as the rebels had hoped”.

    A small number of copies were made, signed by Pearse and distributed to rebel positions in Dublin and the outlying countryside by Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell, who had acted as go between during the surrender negotiations, and members of the Capuchin community. It is not known exactly how many typed copies were produced, but it is thought to be in single figures. Two surviving copies are held by the National Library of Ireland. Another, signed by Pearse and countersigned by James Connolly, is held at the Imperial War Museum, London. In addition, there are known to be three hand written drafts. It is estimated at £80,000-100,000.


    Saturday, April 1st, 2017

    18th century silver mug by Mark Fallon  UPDATE: THIS MADE £15,000

    A rare 18th century silver mug by Mark Fallon, Galway c1730 which was on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 1974 to 2003 comes up at Bonham’s in London on April 5.

    One of only three known secular pieces made by Mark Fallon the mug is straight sided with a double scroll handle and engraved with two crests. The Jacobite Galway, which supported the Catholic King James II, was besieged and captured during the Williamite Wars in Ireland from 1688-91.

    Trade and industry suffered as oppressive laws led to the departure of many families. Because of this Galway silver is rare and most surviving pieces were designed for religious use.  The c1730 mug by Mark Fallon is estimated at £12,000-15,000.