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    ART MARKET HURTLING TOWARDS FUTURE OF NEW

    Sunday, May 2nd, 2021

    The international art market is increasingly evolving towards the now.  Developments  happening at breakneck pace are reflected in the annual  May New York sales of big league international art, livestreamed of course, and available to view around the world. Christie’s has torn up the rule book to create an entirely new category of turn of the 21st century contemporary art.  Established contemporaries like Gerhard Richter and Christopher Wool will be offered alongside newcomer artists like Jordan Casteel.

    Two tables with floral pattern by Jonas Wood (born 1977) at Christies.  Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 202

    This follows the discovery of a growing appetite for masterpieces by a new generation of artists reported by Christie’s in 2020.  The auction house recorded no less than seven new auction records by 21st century artists in the livestreamed Hong Kong to New York evening sale last December.  Many of these artists are unknown to those of us familiar with the glorious range of art from Monet to Hockney and beyond.  The 21st century evening sale at Christie’s on May 11 will be led by work from artists like Martin Kippenberger, Jordan Casteel and  Gerhard Richter. Mark Rothko’s Untitled, painted in 1970 during the final months of his life, will highlight the 20th century evening sale on May 13.

    Femme assise près d’une fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse) by Pablo Picasso at Christie’s.  Courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2021 (estimate in the region of $55 million).

    Even though there are growing numbers of new kids on the block there will be no shortage  of names that are familiar.  Sotheby’s Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary art sales will include highlights from Jean-Michel Basquiat, Clyfford Still, Warhol, Hockney, Willem de Kooning, Alexander Calder, Childe Hassan, Degas, Monet, Picasso and more.  An exquisite example of Monet’s Waterlilies series will highlight Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern sale and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Versus Medici will take centre stage at the Contemporary Art evening auction.  Both sales will be livestreamed on May 12. Contemporary auctions reflect the response of todays artists to our changing world and offer a fascinating glimpse of the development of abstract and figurative art from the Post-War period to the present day. To further mark the changes Sotheby’s will hold its first auction entirely devoted to women artists across the centuries later this month.

    Le Bassin aux nympheas by Claude Monet at Sothebys on May 12. ($40-$60 million)

    The future beckons and it looks exciting. The mix of online and live sales is here to stay. We will not go back to what was there before Covid. If a signpost to the future can be discerned it points in the direction of a more diverse and multicultural art market focused on gender equality, the rights of minorities and masterpieces waiting to be discovered by artists yet largely unknown.

    Versus Medici by Jean Michel Basquiat at Sothebys on May 12 ($35-$50 million).

    LOWRY WORK OF CROWDS GATHERING FOR RUGBY MATCH

    Friday, April 30th, 2021

    A rare and early rugby painting by L S Lowry comes up at Sotheby’s inaugural British Art: Modern/ Contemporary live-stream auction in London on June 29. Painted in 1928, Going to the Match is among the earliest known depiction of one of Lowry’s most iconic and timeless subjects – that of spectators thronging to a sporting occasion. Famed for his images of football, it is significant that it is a rugby match he chose to paint first, no doubt testament to the importance of the Rugby League to Northern communities. The red flag seen flying by the ground, as well as the red scarves worn by several of the crowd members, hints at the Salford Red Devils – Lowry’s local team. It is estimated at £2-£3 million.

    L.S. Lowry – Going to the Match

    EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

    Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

    The story of a fractured relationship between a portrait artist and his client lies behind the Knatchbull family portrait. Painted by John Singleton Copley in 1800 it was commissioned by Tory politician Sir Edward Knatchbull, who wanted a portrait of his second wife and ten children.  His first wife was to be included so Copley depicted her as one of a group of angels. When his second wife died two years later Knatchbull married again and wanted her included. Then his pregnant wife’s child had to be added. When after three years the portrait was finally unveiled he was mortified when people laughed openly at the spectacle of past and present wives in the same painting. He had it taken down and ordered Copley to paint over the angels. The fee was to be cut too, forcing a legal dispute which the artist won.  The oil sketch from the collection of Patricia Mountbatten sold at Sotheby’s for £88,200. Singleton Copley was an Irish American whose father was from Limerick and whose mother was from Clare.

    John Singleton Copley – The Knatchbull Family Portrait

    A BARELY LEGAL BANKSY AT SOTHEBY’S MARQUEE SALE

    Monday, March 15th, 2021

    A parody by Banksy of actress Demi Moore’s iconic Vanity Fair cover comes up at Sotheby’s livestreamed marquee auction on March 25 with an estimate of £2-3 million. The two-metre-tall canvas was first unveiled in 2006 as the poster image for Banksy’s debut and breakthrough U.S. exhibition, which cemented his status. Titled ‘Barely Legal’, the self-proclaimed “three-day vandalised warehouse extravaganza” took place in an impoverished area of Los Angeles. The location was kept secret until hours before the opening. Advertisements featuring the poster juxtaposed against the Hollywood sign were pasted around the city in the lead up and to promote the show, Banksy also left an inflatable replica of a Guantánamo Bay detainee in Disneyland. During the three-day view the exhibition famously drew 30,000 visitors – among them Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Jude Law, Keanu Reeves, Orlando Bloom, Dennis Hopper, Cameron Diaz and Sacha Baron Cohen. The LA Times reported that $5 million worth of art was sold during the opening two hours.

    Banksy –  Original Concept for Barely Legal Poster (After Demi Moore), 2006. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £2,677,000

    $150 MILLION TEXAS COLLECTION AT SOTHEBY’S

    Thursday, February 25th, 2021

    The most significant collection to come to auction for years comes up at various sales at Sotheby’s in New York next May. At the heart of Anne Marion’s collection are masterworks by three of the greatest American artists of the post-War period: Andy Warhol’s iconic Elvis 2 Times, Richard Diebenkorn’s sublime Ocean Park No. 40; and Clyfford Still’s staggering PH-125 (1948-No. 1). All three works are estimated to achieve in excess of $20 million.

    Legendary Texan rancher and businesswoman Anne Marion (1938-2020) was celebrated for her generous support of cultural institutions, critical contributions to education and healthcare, and her passion for the life and traditions of the American Southwest where her family had been rooted for generations. The treasures of her own private collection have remained – until now – largely unknown.  It is estimated in the region of $150 million.

    The great-granddaughter of Captain Samuel Burk Burnett (1849-1922) she was heiress to the historic, world-renowned Four Sixes Ranch in King County, Texas. Samuel took the unusual step of willing the bulk of his estate to his 22-year-old granddaughter, ‘Big Anne’, to be held in trust for her unborn child (the future ‘Little Anne’ Marion), thereby launching the tradition of female leadership of one of Texas’ greatest family businesses. Following her mother’s death in 1980, ‘Little Anne’ took over management of the business and ran it for the next forty years.  She was a trusted board director and benefactor of the Kimbell Art Museum for four decades, and a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

    Hugh Hildesley, who joined Sotheby’s in 1961 and played an integral role in the company’s formative years in the US, was a longstanding colleague of Sotheby’s eminent chairman and auctioneer John L. Marion, Anne’s husband for the last 32 years of her life. He remembers: He remembers: “The sheer scope of Anne’s astounding achievements will prove influential and transformative for generations to come: from her role as President of the Burnett Foundation to founding the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum; donor of the Marion Emergency Care Center in Fort Worth, to tireless Trustee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Kimbell Art Museum and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Anne knew quality when she saw it”.

    Richard Diebenkorn – Ocean Park No. 40

    THE FAMILY COLLECTION OF PATRICIA MOUNTBATTEN

    Monday, January 25th, 2021

    The family collection of Patricia Mountbatten, whose father, son and mother in law were murdered by the IRA, will come up at Sotheby’s in London on March 24.  The 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma was one of seven people aboard Shadow V when it was blown up by the Provisional IRA off Cliffoney, Co. Sligo in August 1979.The party comprised Lord Mountbatten, Lord John Brabourne (Patricia’s husband), their 14 year old twins Timothy and Nicholas, Lord Brabourne’s mother Lady Doreen Brabourne and 15 year old Paul Maxwell from Fermanagh, a friend of the family.  Mountbatten, Nicholas Brabourne and Maxwell were killed immediately. Lady Brabourne died the next day and the others survived serious injuries. In a press release Sotheby’s say that Lady Mountbatten, who died in 2017, dealt with her tragedies with extraordinary courage and grace. More than 350 lots from Newhouse, the Brabourne’s 18th century home, will come under the hammer at Sotheby’s on March 24 with estimates ranging from £80 to £100,000. The sale unveils tales of an important family through the art and objects they lived with. Born in 1924 Patricia Mountbatten was great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, great niece of Russia’s last Tsarina, first cousin to Prince Philip and the daughter of Britain’s last Viceroy of India.  She had an unconventional upbringing, from weekend parties with King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson at her parents’ estate in Hampshire to evacuation on the eve of the Blitz to stay with Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt III in her palatial Fifth Avenue apartment in New York. In 1943 Patricia entered the Women’s Royal Navy Service and met John Knatchbull, 7th Lord Brabourne (1924-2005). They married in 1946. As a Captain in the armed forces, Brabourne had worked for Patricia’s father in India, and later became an Academy-Award nominated film producer, behind titles such as A Passage to India and Agatha Christie adaptations Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express
    When Patricia inherited her father’s peerages, the pair became one of the very few married couples in England each of whom held a peerage in his or her own right and the custodians of two great inheritances. John’s included Mersham le Hatch, an elegant house by Robert Adam in the Kent countryside, where the Knatchbull family had settled in the 15th century. Furnished by the great Thomas Chippendale in the 1770s, it held within it objects with extraordinarily diverse provenances, including the explorer and botanist Sir Joseph Banks who travelled to Australia on Cook’s first expedition, Jane Austen’s beloved niece Fanny and the Marquesses of Sligo. Patricia inherited precious objects associated with her parents from their Art Deco penthouse on Park Lane – with treasures from Edwina’s maternal grandfather, the great Edwardian financier Sir Ernest Cassel – and their time in India.
    Among the lots to be offered is an Anglo-Indian inlaid bureau on stand supplied by Thomas Chippendale to Sir Edward Knatchbull in 1767.  It is estimated at £40,000-£60,000.  The stand was made by Chippendale for the sum of £4 to house the Indian inlaid miniature bureau. The sale of 350 lots will offer jewellery, furniture, paintings, sculpture, books, silver, ceramics and objets d’art.

    UPDATE: Over 1,400 participants from 55 countries drove the sale total to £5,620,798, over three times the pre-sale estimate with 98% of lots sold.

    BOTTICELLI AT SOTHEBY’S NEW YORK

    Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

    IT is not everyday that a painting by Botticelli comes to auction, and it is not everyday that a sale of Old Master drawings features a strong Cork connection and a tenuous but definite link to the monster Frankenstein. Next January 28 in New York will be just such a day. Led by Botticelli, Rembrandt and Bernini  the highest value Masters Week in Sotheby’s history runs in New York until January 30. The seven Sotheby’s auctions of paintings, drawings and sculpture with works spanning four centuries is headed by Botticelli’s Young Man Holding a Roundel. Sotheby’s are confident that this work will establish art market history as one of the most significant portraits of any period ever at auction. They have not published an estimate but rank it alongside Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II (sold in 2006 for $87.9 million) and  Van Gogh’s Portrait of Dr. Gachet (sold in 1990 for $82.5 million). As only about 12 portraits by the early Renaissance Florentine master are known – nearly all of them in major museum collections – it seems likely that this rare and characterful portrait could break all existing records. It comes up at the marquee sale of Master Paintings and Sculpture alongside 45 other works with estimates of from $70,000 to $30 million, the top estimate for Rembrandt’s Abraham and the Angels. (The Rembrandt was withdrawn from the sale)

    The Cork connection turns up at Christie’s online sale of Old Master and British drawings including property from the Cornelia Bessie Estate which runs until January 28. Lot 81 is a portrait by the Irish artist Hugh Douglas Hamilton (1739-1808) of Robert King, 2nd Earl of Kingston and Caroline (nee Fitzgerald), Countess of Kingston.  He was an MP for County Cork. They lived at Mitchelstown Castle where they hired the author and founding feminist philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) as governess to their daughters. (It is a pity that the governess did not have the opportunity to educate and civilise their son George who grew up to be the notoriously brutal commander of the North Cork Militia during the 1798 Rebellion).  The daughter she influenced most was Margaret King who, as Lady Mount Cashell, undertook a grand tour and published her diaries. The unconventional Wollstonecraft died 11 days after giving birth to her second daughter Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein and wife of the poet. The Kingston portraits are estimated at $12,000-$18,000

    (See post on antiquesandartireland.com for January 15, 2021)

    Sandro Botticelli – Portrait of a young man holding a roundel  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $92,184,000

    FIRESTONE COLLECTION ONLINE AT SOTHEBY’S

    Monday, September 7th, 2020

    Leading in the mares and foals at Gilltown Stud, Ireland is among the lots on offer at Sotheby’s online auction of the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone in New York until September 9. The work, by Peter Williams, is estimated at $4,000-6,000. Mr. Firestone celebrated his first great victory in May 1971 when King’s Company landed the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh before taking the Cork and Orrery Stakes at Royal Ascot in 1972. In 1980, following their purchase of Catoctin Stud, in Waterford, Virginia, Genuine Risk became the second filly in 65 years to win the Kentucky Derby and the only filly to place in all three races of the Triple Crown.  The Firestones operated the 1200-acre Gilltown Stud in Kilcullen, County Kildare. Important wins included BlueWind’s 1981 win at the Epsom Oaks and Flash of Steel’s win at the 1986 Irish 2000 Guineas. They also campaigned April Run, the champion three-year-old filly in France in 1981. Gilltown Stud, located close to Curragh Racecourse, was purchased by the Aga Khan in 1989 and continues to operate today under his auspices. The Firestones also won the second running of The Japan Cup with their horse Half-Iced. In addition, they were the breeders of Vintage Crop, the 1983 winner of the historic Melbourne Cup in Australia.

    Peter Williams – Leading in the mares and foals at Gilltown Stud. UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR $4,410

    AN AUCTION CELEBRATING THE IMPACT OF HIP HOP

    Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

    AN auction celebrating the cultural impact of Hip Hop, or rap music, will. be held by Sotheby’s in New York on September 15. The first dedicated Hip Hop sale for an international audience reflects the impact of the music developed in the US by inner-city African Americans and Latino Americans in the Bronx borough of New York in the 1970s. With over 120 lots the auction is comprised of unique artifacts, contemporary art, one of a kind experiences, photography, vintage and modern fashion, historic and newly designed jewelry and luxury items, rare ephemera including flyers and posters, important publications. Highlights include the crown worn and signed by Notorious B.I.G. from the Iconic 1997 King of New York and an archive of High School love letters written by Tupac Shakur. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Queens Public Library Foundation.

    Barron Claiborne, ‘Notorious B.I.G. as the K.O.N.Y (King of New York). UPDATE: THE CROWN SOLD FOR $594,750 

    REMBRANDT TO RICHTER AT SOTHEBY’S

    Wednesday, July 8th, 2020

    FROM Rembrandt to Richter Sotheby’s announced the second headline work of its major cross-category summer evening auction in London on 28 July. Gerhard Richter’s Wolken (fenster) (Clouds (window)) is an immersive skyscape with an estimate of £9-12 million. Richter’s skyscape reinvents the sublime landscapes of predecessors like Constable, Turner and Caspar David Friedrich, channelling their works into a new contemporary vision, in an effort establish a legitimate place for painting in the post-photo age. The resulting abstract, almost minimalist work, is painted not from life but from a photograph.

    From Rembrandt, ‘the first modern painter’, to Richter, who has earned his position as one of today’s great contemporary artists by drawing upon the inheritance of the past, this auction will span over 500 years of art history, drawing the Old Masters together with 19th century, Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary artists.

    Gerhard Richter, Wolken (fenster) (Clouds (window)), 1970
    Oil on canvas, in four parts (£9,000,000-12,000,000). UPDATE: THIS MADE £10,449,000 MILLION
    Rembrandt Van Rijn, Self-portrait, wearing a ruff and black hat (£12-16 million). UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £12,600,000 AT HAMMER A NEW AUCTION RECORD FOR A SELF PORTRAIT BY REMBRANDT – WITH FEES £14,549,400