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    Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

    AS this strange, unsettling year draws to a close auction houses are looking back with relief and forward with optimism. Twelve months ago when 2020 dawned there was little inkling of the pandemic that has since engulfed the globe causing at least 1.8 million deaths and 82 million cases so far. In the art and antiques market online sales and private sales did much to alleviate the pressure caused by the lack of live sales nationally and internationally. Preliminary figures from Christie’s suggest that sales were down 25% to $4.4 billion. Demand remained strong and online sales (up 262% in 2020) and digital innovation are seen as major drivers of future growth. Private sales achieved a record total projected at $1.3 billion. No less than 36% of all buyers were new to Christie’s and 32% of new online only buyers were millennials (23-38 years old).

    CEO Guillaume Cerutti commented: “In 2020, the global pandemic deeply impacted the art market, as it did for almost all industries. We are now looking forward to 2021 with optimism, for two major reasons: global demand for art and objects remains strong with an impressive influx of new clients, especially millennials; and Christie’s has introduced digital innovations that significantly strengthened our business model, providing clients with greater flexibility to transact with us through our live auction, online-only, and private sales platforms.”

    In Ireland lockdowns caused four months of closure in 2020 and a new lockdown for the month of January 2021 has just been announced. At James Adam they reckon that business overall was about two thirds of what would normally have occurred in sectors like Irish Art and jewellery. The level of sales, 16 in categories like vintage wine and spirits, period and mid century furniture, jewellery, watches, art and decorative arts and the Country House Collections sale at Townley Hall, helped to make up some of the shortfall. James O’Halloran reports that sell through rates at Adams were higher in every category with some auctions recording 90% plus. There is a readiness to drive on from this in 2021.

    The Kildare House giltwood chairs made 18,000 at James Adam


    Sunday, December 6th, 2020

    Mille Tetes is the title of this Aubusson tapestry by Louis le Brocquy at the James Adam online sale of Important Irish art on December 9. According to a catalogue note by Niamh Corcoran Mille Tetes (1,000 Heads) is a distinctive example of both Le Brocquy’s sustained interest in representing the human head and the visual effect of inverting colour and tone. Signed and dated 1973 this is number 1 of an edition of 9. It is estimated at 50,000-80,000.

    Louis le Brocquy HRHA (1916-2012)
    Mille Tetes B, No.1929. UPDATE: THIS MADE 54,000 AT HAMMER


    Sunday, November 29th, 2020

    Irish collectors are faced with a dizzying array of online choices in a whole series of end of year sales in the run up to Christmas.  Historically rare archival items, collectibles, antique furniture, Irish glass, porcelain, jewellery, silver and art will all come under the hammer. And there will be a series of major art sales in Dublin from December 7. The Woodwards online sale in Cork on December 5 offers a good selection of antique furniture, rugs, collectibles and art.  There is a set of eight Cork 11-bar chairs (€2,500-4,000); a GCeorgian secretaire (€1,000-€1,500); an Edwardian drawingroom suite (€1,000-€1,500) and a pair of Waterford Crystal chandeliers (€800-1,500).
    At Sixmilebridge in Co. Clare Aidan Foley has a four day online sale with more than 2,000 lots starting on December 5 with a large collection of books, records and CD’s.  This will be followed by auctions of antique furniture, mirrors, Persian rugs and art on the following three days.  One of the prime lots is a large Killarney davenport with an estimate of €6,000-€8,000. The Collectors Cabinet sale by Mullens of Laurel Park, postponed from October, takes place on December 5.  More than 500 lots of all sorts of everything from books and cinema posters to a facsimile of the Book of Kells, Irish Republican memorabilia and a collection of nearly 4,000 football programmes including the famous Irish v Germany games in 1936 when the Tricolour was published alongside the flag of Nazi Germany are due to come under the hammer.

    In Dublin James Adam is running a timed online only At Home sale until December 2.  There is silver, jewellery and watches, antique furniture, old Irish glass, art and collectibles with nearly 600 lots to chose from. More than 900 lots will come under the hammer online at a two day Christmas auction by Sean Eacrett of Ballybrittas, Co. Laois on December 5 and 6. The sale contents from an antique shop and a stamp collection.

    A pair of Waterford Crystal chandeliers at Woodwards. UPDATE: THESE MADE 2,400 AT HAMMER


    Thursday, November 19th, 2020

    Millions of euro work of Irish art is due to come under the hammer at four pre-Christmas sales by Morgan O’Driscoll (November 23); Whyte’s (December 7); de Veres (December 8) and James Adam (December 9). More than 560 lots will come under the hammer at these sales. It is a mark of the improving condition of the Irish art market that no less than nine of them have estimates in excess of 100,000. Predictably the front runners are Jack B. Yeats, William Orpen, Walter Osborne, Paul Henry and William Scott. These stellar artists notwithstanding the upcoming sales offer an appetising selection by a wide variety of artists across all price points. The number of works with high estimates recalls an oft quoted phrase of modernising Irish Taoiseach Sean Lemass in the 1960’s – “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Irish art values are once again on the up and not before time.

    William Scott CBE RA, (1913-1989 STILL LIFE WITH FRYING PAN (1946) (200,000-300,000) at de Veres UPDATE: THIS MADE 200,000 AT HAMMER


    Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

    This Lalique opalescent Laurier vase sold for 750 at the James Adam Country House Collections timed online auction on October 12. The sale continues today.


    Friday, November 1st, 2019

    This pink ground Famille Rose tea tray is among the top lots at the James Adam sale of Asian Fine Art, Oriental sculpture and ceramics in Dublin on November 5. The tray, with Jiaqing mark, dates to 1796-1820. The central reserve has an Imperial poem relating to tea preparation and date corresponding to 1797. It is estimated at 20,000-30,000.

    UPDATE: The tray was unsold, a Qianlong Imperial Seal made 32,000 at hammer.


    Friday, October 11th, 2019

    Hard on the heels of their Country House Collections auction at Townley Hall on October 15 the Dublin firm of James Adam will offer what is described as the most important single owner auction of Irish art in Dublin on October 23. On offer is around 200 lots of paintings, prints and sculpture from the collection of Antoinette and Pat Murphy. The total estimate for the sale is over one million euro. It is a collection of breadth and variety ranging from works by Nathaniel Hone, Paul Henry and Jack B. Yeats to contemporary work by Barrie Cooke, Basil Blackshaw and Camille Souter. The catalogue is online.

    William Scott – Two Pears (25,000-35,000) UPDATE: THIS MADE 61,000 AT HAMMER


    Saturday, September 21st, 2019

    ACCORDING  to James O’Halloran, managing director at James Adam in Dublin, the old reliables of Irish art perform best in the current market. The sale of Important Irish Art at Adams at 6 pm on September 25 contains a selection by some of Ireland’s best loved artists of the last 150 years.O’Halloran says that collectors of contemporary Irish art are well informed nowadays and only want the best that they can afford.  In auctioneering terms this means fresh to market works by artists with a proven track record. In a small market this makes it very difficult for newcomers to break in. Sadly this has proved to be something of a brake on the auction development of emerging artists, whose work in Ireland is mostly  promoted by galleries.On the Skibbereen Light Railway by Yeats is the auction highlight at Adams.  Estimated at 150,000-200,000 the work, which explores the interaction between people on the long gone west Cork railway, was once owned by Leo Smith, founder of The Dawson Gallery, and at a later stage by the modernist architect Michael Scott.  The auction features work by stalwarts like Sir John Lavery and Paul Henry.  A classic west of Ireland landscape by Henry was purchased by Wilhelm Mueller, a member of the German Legation in Ireland in 1940 when the Second World War was raging.  The family was granted permission to stay in Ireland after the war and did not return to their home country until the 1950’s.  It has remained in their possession until now and is estimated at 60,000-80,000. The catalogue cover lot is Fighting Tinkers by Gerard Dillon (30,000-50,000). The Shelbourne Hotel has consigned a number of lots including Tony O’Malley’s Orpheus Autumn which dates from 1984 (15,000-20,000).



    Thursday, June 13th, 2019

    Paul Henry’s Cottages in a Landscape was the top lot at the James Adam sale of Important Irish Art in Dublin last night. It made a hammer price of 115,000. Other top hammer prices included Sean Keating’s Homeward Bound (76,000), Louis le Brocquy’s Aubusson wool tapestry Cuchulainn VIII 1999 (70,000), Gerald Leslie Brockhurst’s Portrait of Florence Forsyth (50,000), South of France Landscape by Mary Swanzy (32,000), A Lament for Art O’Leary, a set of six illustrations from 1940 by Jack Butler Yeats (19,000) and Girl in Stripy Jumper by Basil Blackshaw (18,000).

    Paul Henry RHA (1877-1958) Cottages in a Landscape (1930-1940)

    Top prices for Irish art at Bonhams in London yesterday included Looking at the Moon by Rowan Gillespie (£56,313); Londonderry  by L.S. Lowry (£37,562); River scene, Londonderry  by L.S. Lowry (£30,062) and November Evening, Bangor Pier  by Colin Middleton (£22,562).


    Monday, June 10th, 2019

    Rich pickings await collectors at two sales of Irish art in Dublin and one in London this week.  The evening sale of art and sculpture at de Veres on June 11 offers three tapestries by le Brocquy including Allegory from 1950 (60,000-90,000). This series rarely appears at auction.  There is as well a fine watercolour from his Tinkers series (40,000-60,000).The auction features work by artists like Patrick Scott, Mainie Jellett, Hughie O’Donoghue, Tony O’Malley, Robert Ballagh, Stephen McKenna and Sean McSweeney.A feature of this auction is the sculpture section, on view in the garden of The Merrion Hotel.  The first piece on view is a massive bronze GI Bear by Patrick O’Reilly standing outside the hotel on Merrion Street (80,000-120,000).

    Tinker Picking Whitethorn, a watercolour by Louis le Brocquy at de Veres  UPDATE: THIS MADE 42,000 AT HAMMER

    Interest in the work of Mary Swanzy has hugely increased in latter years, helped no doubt by her major exhibition currently at the Crawford in Cork previously on show at IMMA.  Her South of France Landscape dating from around 1915 is lot 38 at the James Adam evening sale of Important Irish Art in Dublin on June 1. It is estimated at 20,000-30,000.Low Water, Spring Tide, Clifden by Jack. B, Yeats dates to 1906 and is his first oil painting, created when he was moving on from watercolour. It is estimated at 40,000-60,000 at Adams.  The sale offers a number of fine 18th and 19th century landscapes by artists including William Sadler, John Henry Campbell, Frederick Brocas and William Ashford.  Lot 62 is a  monumental bronze by Edward Delaney featured in an RTE still photograph of the poet Patrick Kavanagh in 1962.  Titled Cathedral it is estimated at 15,000-20,000.  There are abstract works by Cecil King, William Scott, Felim Egan and Michael Farrell, A Connemara Landscape by Paul Henry and a 1920’s portrait by the English painter Gerald Leslie Brockhurst of Florence Forsythe. Adams point out that a portrait of film star Merle Oberon by Brockhurst sold last year for $290,000.  Adams has a more modest estimate of 20,000-40,000 on their example.The Irish selection on offer at Bonhams Modern British and Irish art sale in London on June 12 is headed by Yeats’ Romeo and Juliet.  There are two Irish sketches by L.S. Lowry as well as works by Louis le Brocquy, Colin Middleton, Rowan Gillespie, William Scott, Sean Scully and Sir John Lavery.

    South of France Landscape by Mary Swanzy at James Adam UPDATE: THIS MADE 32,000 AT HAMMER