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    Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

    Rare images from Sir Ernest Shackleton’s doomed Antartic Expedition come up at Bonhams Travel and Exploration sale in London on February 26. The Antarctic explorer, born in Kilkea Co. Kildare, led three British expeditions to the Antarctic. His Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917 is remembered for one of the great feats of human daring and valour. Attempting to sail across the Weddell Sea, the expedition ship Endurance became trapped in pack ice, eventually disintegrating in October 1915. The dramatic escape of the crew is the stuff of legend. The expedition’s official photographer, Australian Frank Hurley, captured life on board the stricken vessel and the ship’s final hours.  A newly discovered presentation album of Hurley’s Photographs of Scenes and Incidents in Connection with the Happenings to the Weddell Sea Party  consigned by a private owner in the UK is estimated at £30,000-40,000.

    Frank Hurley joined the Shackleton expedition as the official photographer in 1914, having gained experience with Douglas Mawson’s 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition. The decision to abandon Endurance presented Hurley with an unenviable task. With a long march ahead into an uncertain future, weight was at a premium and he was forced to destroy 400 plates to lessen the load.

    Bonhams Head of Books, Manuscripts and Photographs, Matthew Haley said: “The fate of Endurance and the crew’s astonishing and tortuous journey back against all the odds is rightly seen as a testament to the human spirit under extreme pressure.  Hurley’s images convey the terrible situation in which the men found themselves, and have come to define  the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration as it drew to a close.” 


    Frank Hurley – Endurance in her death throes


    Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

    A newly discovered letter from Constance Markievicz is one of the highlights of Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London on March 11. It is in reply to Eva Cumming, a hitherto unknown cousin in Australia, who had written to introduce herself after seeing Markievicz’s name in the Australian press.  Although Cumming’s letter is now lost, it must have expressed sympathy for the Republican cause because Markievicz writes that she is pleased, “to find that I have a cousin who is sympathetic & feels the same intense love for our country that I do”.

    The undated letter seems to be been written around September 25-26 1920. In it she refers to two attacks on September 23 by the newly formed ‘Black and Tans’ – auxiliary policemen in the Royal Irish Constabulary noted for their indiscriminate brutality.  Markievicz was on the run from the British authorities at the time.  She had played a significant role in the Easter Rising of 1916 and escaped the firing squad only because she was a woman. She spent the rest of her life dedicated to the Irish Republican cause, and in 1918 became the first woman ever to be elected to the UK Parliament although like all Sinn Fein MPs then and since she did not take up her seat.  It is estimated at £4,000-6,000.


    Thursday, November 21st, 2019

    A small private Irish collection to be sold at Bonhams fine wine sale in London on November 28 comes with an interesting history. The 23 bottles, with a combined upper estimate of £40,000, are the remains of an entire drinks cellar purchased in a private sale in 1955 for £500 – equivalent in buying power to £12,500 today. From the 1945 vintage there are bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild, Latour, Margaux, Haut Brion and Cheval Blanc as well as a case of Château Latour 1948 (£6,000-8,000) and five bottles of Cheval Blanc 1948 (£4,000-5,000). Most of these wines are all that remain from a cellar purchased by the vendor’s father from his cousin, based on a valuation by Berry Bros. & Rudd, who had originally suppled many of them.

    The auction will be led by wines from a Paris cellar, with an emphasis on Burgundies from top Domaines, Coche-Dury and Jacky Truchot.

    UPDATE: Irish cellar sold for a total of £78,400 including buyer’s premium

    A case of Chateau Latour 1948


    Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

    Bacchus by Rowan Gillespie made an above estimate £45,000 at Bonhams Modern British and Irish art sale in London today. Conceived in 1984 and cast in 1985 the top estimate for the 51″ tall polished bronze piece was £25,000. It was a good day for Irish art at Bonhams. Still Life with Fish by William Scott sold for £81,000, Bog Pool by Paul Henry made £63,000, Achill Cottage, Lough Corrib and Turf Stacks with Mountains both by Paul Henry sold for £35,000 and £19,000.

    Two Forms by William Scott made £16,000; Ardglass by Colin Middleton made £15,000 and The Smooth Red Rock by Daniel O’Neill made £10,000.

    Rowan Gillespie – Bacchus


    Saturday, November 16th, 2019

    A gold Cork freedom box comes up at Bonhams Important Design sale in London on November 27.  The oval George III box inscribed with the arms of Cork surrounded by foliage and bright cut engravings was made by William Reynolds circa 1780.  There is a further gold freedom box by Reynolds, whose premises was at North Main Street in Cork, at the National Maritime Museum in London.  Bonhams estimate this one at £20,000-30,000.



    Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

    Paul Henry, whose painting Bog Pool is to be offered at Bonhams Modern British and Irish Art in London on November 20, sometimes took a dim view of the world.  In a letter to the work’s owner he wrote ‘Personally I have often thought what is the good of painting little pictures of beautiful things when the world seems so full of ugly thoughts and deeds.” He did, however, concede: “but if these little pictures have brought any beauty and sweetness into some people’s lives their existence has been justified.”

    Bog Pool, estimated at £60,000-80,000 has remained in the same private collection for more than 100 years since its acquisition from the artist in around 1917. The family supported Paul Henry in his early career and a collection of six letters from Paul Henry to them with more observations on his work is included with this work.

    Among the other Irish highlights in the auction are Still Life with Fish, by William Scott (£70,000-100,000). Bacchus by Rowan Gillespie (£15,000-25,000), Nude by Basil Blackshaw (£10,000-15,000), The Smooth Red Rock, by Daniel O’Neill (£8,000-12,000) and Summer Storm by William Crozier (£7,000-10,000).

    Paul Henry R.H.A. (Irish, 1876-1958) Bog Pool. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £62,520


    Saturday, October 26th, 2019

    A marble portrait bust of Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, 1st Baron Ashford, by John Henry Foley comes up at Bonhams in London on November 27.  A grandson of Arthur Guinness he was responsible for making the Guinness brand a household name in Ireland and overseas during the 19th century. In 1855 Guinness became the wealthiest man in Ireland and was elected the first Lord Mayor of Dublin under the reformed corporation.  John Henry Foley RA, RHA (1818-1874) depicted Guinness in the classical robes of a Roman dignitary symbolising his wealth and standing  Foley is best known for his heroic and monumental statues, including that of Daniel O’Connell on O’Connell Street, Oliver Goldsmith and Edmund Burke on the grounds of Trinity College, and Henry Grattan on College Green, Dublin.  Sculpted in 1867 the bust is estimated at £20,000-30,000.



    Monday, October 7th, 2019

    Bonhams will offer this large and impressive Waterford 18 light  waterfall and bag chandelier at their home and interiors sale in Knightsbridge, London on October 8.  The faceted scrolling branches are arranged in two tiers of 12 large and six smaller arms supporting scalloped drip pans. It is described as bespoke, of recent manufacture and the property of a gentleman purchased for his Irish country residence.  This one has a 200 cm drop and a diameter of 110 cms. Similar smaller chandeliers were supplied by Waterford for the K Club at Straffan, Co. Kildare.  This one is estimated at £20,000-30,000. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD


    Thursday, September 19th, 2019

    A full length portrait of María Luisa Maldonado y Salabert, Marquesa de Torneros, daughter of the Count of Villagonzalo by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida comes up at Bonhams in London on September 26. An exhibiton of Sorolla’s works runs at the National Gallery of Ireland until November 3. Letters from Sorolla to his wife Clotilde reveal that the present lot was a direct commission from the Count of Villagonzalo, who was himself a major art collector, and a close friend of the artist. The work, which comes up at a sale of 19th century European, Victorian and British Impressionist Art, is estimated at £180,000-250,000.

    Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (Spanish, 1863-1923)

    Portrait of María Luisa Maldonado y Salabert, Marquesa de Torneros. UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD


    Thursday, September 5th, 2019

    A painting of an Irish wolfhound credited with saving the life of the 4th Earl of Antrim, features in Bonhams sale of the Christopher Hodsoll Collection in London on October 1. Portrait of a noble hound by an artist from the circle of the British painter John Wootton is estimated at £30,000-50,000.

    While out hunting, Randal MacDonnell, 4th Earl Antrim fell from his horse. According to tradition, the hound raced back to the castle, raised the alarm and led the rescue party to the stricken nobleman.

    Other items in the sale with Irish connections include: An Irish George II mahogany drop-leaf dining table, with lion-mask carved legs, acanthus-leaf spandrels and paw feet (£15,000-20,000); an Irish late 19th century mahogany side table by James Hicks of Dublin (£6,000-8,000) and a large Irish late regency mahogany circular dining table by Mack, Williams and Gibton (£2,000-4,000).