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    Wednesday, February 14th, 2024
    Sir John Lavery (1856-1941)The Hearing of the Appeal of Sir Roger Casement, a Study. UPDATE: THIS MADE 124,000 AT HAMMER

    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.


    Monday, March 20th, 2023

    Annotated typescripts from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, mainly from Paris in 1936-37, will come up at Bonhams sale of fine books and manuscripts in Knightsbridge on March 29. Among them are sections of the third chapter of the second book, typed in black ink with Joyce’s autograph ink additions and two genealogies of “Finn” on two separate sheets. There are further revisions and corrections in the hand of either Joyce or more likely one or more of his amanuenses working on his instructions, in two parts. The lot, with 42 leaves in total, is estimated at £45,000-55,000. The sale also includes a series of six signed letters by Roger Casement to  to Max W. Karstensen of the Münchener Zeitung, 6 November 1915 to 6 March 1916, with supporting material. This lot is estimated at £4,000-6,000. UPDATE: The Casement letters made £4,845, the annotated Joyce typescripts were unsold.


    Thursday, May 26th, 2022

    This poetry book signed and inscribed by the Irish patriot Roger Casement on the eve of his execution is at €7,000-10,000 the most expensively estimated lot at Mullen’s Collector’s Cabinet live and online auction on May 28. Lot 104, a Lyrical Chronicle of Ireland published by Burns & Oates, London, c.1900 was gifted by Casement to his confessor in Pentonville Prison. Inscribed by Casement in English and Irish it reads: ” For Father Murnane”, above four stanzas of a poem by Casement, signed with initials ‘R.C.’ and “2 August 1916 – in Pentonville”. Roger Casement was hanged at Pentonville Prison at dawn on 3 August 1916.

    There are 537 lots of history, militaria and collectibles including sporting memorabilia and toys in the auction. Lot 1 is the upper section of the skull of a Great Irish Elk on a custom made stand.


    Sunday, March 13th, 2016

    This original copy of the Proclamation sold for a hammer price of 185,000 at Whyte's today.

    This original copy of the Proclamation sold for a hammer price of 185,000 at Whyte’s today.

    An original copy of the Irish Proclamation sold for 185,000 at Whye’s sale of History and Literature in Dublin this afternoon. It was a busy auction that exhibited a huge appetite for memorabilia and collectibles in this centenary year of the Irish Rising.  A bottle of 100 year old whiskey, which Whyte’s believe to be the oldest bottle of Irish whiskey ever offered at auction, sold for a hammer price of 15,000.  Eamon de Valera’s 1917 prison autograph book from Dartmoor sold for 5,400 and a collection of memorial posters of leaders of The Rising sold for 4,800 at hammer. Seven examples of 1966 50th anniversary silver ten shilling coins made 2,000 and 1916 Rising medals awarded to husband and wife James and Margaret Joyce sold for a hammer price of 6,800.  Three unpublished photographs of Roger Casement on board a German submarine bound for Ireland sold for 4,200.

    Many lots exceeded their top estimate. The sale grossed 570,000 and was 82 per cent sold.

    (See post on for March 4, 2016).