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    Wednesday, February 14th, 2024
    Sir John Lavery (1856-1941)The Hearing of the Appeal of Sir Roger Casement, a Study

    A  never been seen publicly before on-the-spot sketch by Sir John Lavery of The Hearing of the Appeal of Sir Roger Casement in 1916 comes up at Dreweatts Modern and Contemporary art sale in March 13 with an estimate of £15,000-£25,000. It is a study for Lavery’s grand painting of The Court of Criminal Appeal London, 1916 (Government Art Collection), which is an encapsulation of the high drama surrounding the controversial trial of Roger Casement CMG (1864-1916), hung for his participation in the Irish Nationalist revolt in Dublin in 1916. Casement was an Irish-born high-profile diplomat, working for the British Foreign Office, who became well-known for his humanitarian interests (he was nicknamed the ‘father of twentieth-century human rights investigations’.

    There was huge interest in the case, with many high-profile individuals petitioning to save him from the death penalty. It was partly the discovery of what was known as ‘the black diaries’, detailing Casement’s participation in homosexual activities, that are said to have swayed public opinion. It has never been confirmed if the diaries were fabricated by the British government to diffuse the campaign for a reprieve, or whether they were in fact genuine, but they were circulated widely. As homosexuality was against the law at the time these diary entries had an inevitable effect on public opinion.

    The full-scale painted version of The Hearing of the Appeal of Sir Roger Casement was proposed by the presiding judge, Sir Charles Darling 1st Baron Darling, PC (1849-1936). Having commissioned the artist to paint other portraits of his family and having seen the artist’s other publicly exhibited works, he invited him to capture the court proceedings. The finished final painting of the work was produced in Lavery’s studio and completed in 1931. It remained there until the artist’s death in 1941, when he left it to the nation. It hung firstly in the Royal Courts of Justice and in 1950 at the request of Sergeant Sullivan, who had been part of Casement’s defence team, it was lent to King’s Inn, Dublin. 

    Lavery created the study for the painting in situ in court, with Casement looking straight out towards the jury box. Art historian Kenneth McConkey said: “For those two days Lavery, accompanied by his wife Hazel, sat in the witness box recording the scene in the present sketch. During the painful excursion into a legal precedent deriving from a fourteenth century statute on treason, Lavery’s concentration on the scene before him was intense. Although he made efforts to conceal his industry, the production of the present 10 x 14-inch canvas-board in an awkward space was detected by the press, as well as by the prisoner in the dock facing him.”

    It is accompanied by two portraits by Lavery from the family of Sir Charles Darling, as well as two other works from private sources, The Lieutenant John Clive Darling and a portrait of his mother, Lady Darling. Two other paintings are an atmospheric view from Lavery’s house at Tangier and a vivid oil sketch for his celebrated portrait of Mrs Roger Plowden and Humphrey of 1897.


    Sunday, March 26th, 2023

    This c1710 black and gilt japanned dressing mirror by Francis and John Booker comes up at Dreweatts online sale at Newbury in Berkshire on March 29. The printed label on the reverse reads: ‘Frans. & John Booker Efsex Bridge DUBLIN’ and the estimate is £1,200-1,800. Francis and John Booker took over their father John’s business when he died in 1750. The elder John Booker was recorded as a ‘Looking Glass merchant’ when he married early in 1711 or 1712 and his sons were listed in the Dublin trade directories from 1761-1772. The presence of the mid 18th century Francis and John Booker trade label on this japanned dressing mirror of an earlier date could be accounted for by the brothers selling items from their father’s stock from an earlier period.

    The label to the base


    Saturday, February 12th, 2022
    A Victorian brass and ebony tipstaff, circa 1870

    A police truncheon from an era when policing methods were not subject to the same scrutiny as they are today and with an Irish connection comes up at Dreweatts in Newbury, Berkshire in a live online sale on February 16. Lot 548 in the sale is an inscribed tipstaff engraved with the name Sir Peter Tait & Co., Southwark St., London. Sir Peter Tait (1828-1890) was a colourful, flamboyant entrepreneur, who was Mayor of Limerick, where he had a clothing business. He also opened one at 95 Southwark Street, near Blackfriars Bridge in London. In March 1872 he won the contract for truncheons to the Metropolitan Police. In 1875, Tait retired and moved to Thessaloniki in northern Greece, to establish a Turkish cigarette factory. This venture was not a success and he died in poverty at the Hotel De France in Batoum, southern Russia, in December 1890, at the age of 62. The tipstaff here is estimated at £400-600.

    Truncheons were used before official police forces were founded. Those before the 1880s are considered exceptionally rare and are therefore highly prized and sought-after. The majority of the highly decorated pieces were seen in the 18th century and often featured coats of arms, motifs, symbols and emblems connected to their owner and the region that the owner was from. 


    Saturday, August 21st, 2021

    A one off sale of pianos with extraordinary history takes place at Dreweatts in Berkshire on September 23.  Each piano from the collection of David Winston, royal restorer and conservator of pianos to the Queen of England, is a one off with a fascinating backstory. One was bought directly from the iconic liner Mauretania 2, when it was decommissioned in 1965. One was bought in 1946 by concert pianist Madeleine Lioux, wife of the French novelist and politician, Andre Malraux (1901-1976). One features signatures from some of the greatest musicians of the time, including Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941), the pianist and composer who was once Prime Minister of Poland.  David Winston has restored some of the most valuable pianos in the world, including those owned and played by the great classical composers Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt. 

    A Wurlitzer Butterfly Grand. UPDATE: THIS MADE £9,000 AT HAMMER


    Saturday, July 3rd, 2021

    A presentation pair of Armada pattern silver claret jugs are included in a collection of Irish silver at Dreweatts online auction in Newbury, Berkshire on July 7.  Made by John Smyth and Sons of Grafton St. they were presented to Dublin Lord Mayor George Moyers in 1881. The estimate is  £3,000-£5,000. Other Irish pieces in the sale include a George III silver salver, a George II cream jug, a mid 18th century silver bowl and a twin handled silver cup by Robert Calderwood.

    Irish Victorian silver Armada pattern claret jugs by John Smyth, Dublin. UPDATE: THESE MADE £6,000 AT HAMMER


    Thursday, March 18th, 2021

    AN oil on canvas by Colin Middleton, Sundown, Canalridge, No. 2 sold for a hammer price of £13,000 over a top estimate of £5,000 at Dreweatts in Newbury, Berkshire today. Dated January 1960 it was from a private collection of Irish art including in a sale of Modern and Contemporary Art by the English auctioneers. Kitty Wilmer O’Brien’s Boathaven, Old Head, Louisburg, Co. Mayo made £3,700 at hammer over a top estimate of £1,500, a Markey Robinson of Shawlies in the Village made £2,800 over a top estimate of £2,000, Gallery Visitors by Gladys Maccabe made £1,800 over a top estimate of £1,500 and works by Henry Healy and Sean McSweeney also exceeded the top estimates.

    (See posts on for March 13, 2021 and February 16, 2021)

    Colin Middleton (Irish 1910-1983), Sundown: Carnalridge. No. 2


    Saturday, March 13th, 2021

    No less than 24 lots of Irish art will kick off an online sale by Dreweatts of Newbury, Berkshire on March 18.  The auction of Modern and Contemporary Art starts with a private Irish collection from artists ranging from Colin Middleton to Gladys Maccabe to Felim Egan.  Dreweatts say the collection has been passionately assembled over the last 30 years by a private individual and that the art on offer touches on the recurring themes including nostalgia, escapism and a sense of identity.Estimates are from £600-£800 for a charcoal drawing by William Conor to £10,000-£15,000 for two works by Gerard Dillon.  The artists featured are  Gerard Dillon, William Conor, Colin Middleton, Markey Robinson, Gladys Maccabe, Maurice MacGonigal, Maurice Wilks, Frank McKelvery, Kitty Wilmer O’Brien, Henry Healy, Basil Blackshaw, Graham Knuttel, Sean McSweeney, Ciaran Clear, Felim Egan and Martin Finnin.  Dreweatts sold a large work by the Limerick artist John Shinnors for a hammer price of £40,000 last October.

    Untitled (Blue) by Felim Egan (1952-2020). UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD


    Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

    A private collection of Irish art passionately collected over the past 30 years will come up at Dreweatts live online auction in Newbury, Berkshire on March 18. There is art by Gerard Dillon, William Conor, Colin Middleton, Markey Robinson, Gladys Maccabe, Maurice MacGonigal, Maurice Wilks, Frank McKelvey, Kitty Wilmer O’Brien, Henry Healy, Basil Blackshaw, Graham Knuttel, Sean McSweeney, Ciaran Clear and Felim Egan.

    Maurice MacGonigal (Irish 1900-1979)
    Landscape towards Letterfrack (£2,500-£3,500). UPDATE: THIS MADE £2,400 AT HAMMER


    Sunday, December 6th, 2020

    A George III marble and scagliola fire surround, possibly Dublin, in the manner of Pietro Bossi comes up at Dreweatts fine furniture, sculpture and ceramics sale online in Berkshire on December 10. Dating to the last quarter of the 18th century the fireplace showcases refined inlay of scagliola, also known as ‘Bossi work’. The Italian plaster worker Pietro Bossi was active in Ireland during the late 18th century. Though few chimney pieces securely attributed to Bossi survive, he was renowned for the depth and graduation of colour he achieved and his innovative Neoclassical designs. ‘Scagliola’ (Italian for ‘chips’) is a technique that involves manipulating pigmented plaster, modified with animal glue, to resemble pietra dura inlays. This piece is estimated at £600-800 but it is safe to assume it will go higher.

    UPDATE: This sold for £14,000 on the hammer, £17,500 with buyers premium.


    Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

    An Irish School family portrait dating to around 1816 is a highlight at Dreweatts online sale of the British, American and European Folk Art in Newbury, Berkshire on November 24. The portrait of William Winter and his family bears the inscription, ‘Oh pary accept this trifling gift/This token I am far from you/Yet I shall love you still/Though cruel fate has parted me/From my dear friends and loves/Yet may I soon return again/No more from you to roam’.  The portrait of Private William Winter and his family was most probably painted by a professional letter-writer while he was garrisoned in Dublin in February 1816 with the 1st battalion, 48th Regiment of Foot. As the inscription along the lower edge implies he commissioned it as a token of his affection for his family in Gloucestershire. On June 17 that year Winter deserted his regiment and by July 12 had been detained and committed to imprisonment at Chester. The regiment was soon after commissioned to serve in Sydney, New South Wales.

    The Pinkers Collection takes its name from a diminutive 17th century fisherman’s cottage on the Kent coast where it has grown in size over the last twenty years. It includes watercolours and oil paintings from the 17th to the early 20th Century. Many are in their original frames and in remarkably fresh condition. Folk Art has been described as ‘the unselfconscious creativity of academically untrained artists’ (Robert Young, Folk Art, 1999) and it is this quality that gives many of the works an immediacy and playfulness that has chimed with generations of collectors.