Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Monday, April 6th, 2020

    This pair of c1835 Irish William IV giltwood caned armchairs in the manner of James Del Vecchio come up at Sotheby’s online sale of silver, furniture and ceramics this month. The auction runs at Sotheby’s in New York from April 10-22 and among the lots are some silver and antique furniture from Ireland.

    Del Vecchio was a firm of carvers and gilders, looking glass sellers and manufacturers of composition ornament active in Dublin from 1797 to c.1860. The firm was run by Giacomo (James) Del Vecchio and his son James Jr, immigrants from Moltrasio on Lake Como in Northern Italy. They formed part of the thriving furniture trade in early 19th-century Dublin along with Mack Williams and Gibton, Robert Strahan, George Gillington and Joshua Kearney. James Del Vecchio Sr. later established an outpost of the family firm in New York. The chairs are estimated at $6,000-10,000.


    Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

    In these times of uncertainty there is an inclination to look back through rosy tinted spectacles. A stark reminder of darker days past is contained in a lot at Sotheby’s. Unapproved Road, NR. 2 by Willie Doherty is among the lots at Sotheby’s contemporary art online auction which runs until April 8. Executed in 1995 it is Number 1 from an edition of 3. Exhibited at the Kunsthalle Bern in 1996 it was acquired by the present owner from Peter Kilchmann Galerie, Zurich. It is estimated at £1,000-1,500.



    Saturday, March 28th, 2020

    The show must go on but not in all circumstances.  At home and abroad many sales are being postponed and rescheduled.  Among the postponements last week was Sotheby’s much vaunted London sale of the Patrick Kelly Collection from 44 Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin. This was a loss and the sense of disappointment was palpable but the auction will no doubt eventually go ahead.The sale of Important Irish Art at James Adam was postponed last week and among the auctions not going ahead in the coming week are sales at Lynes and Lynes in Carrigtwohill, Mullen’s Collectors Cabinet sale at Laurel Park in Bray and a planned sale of pub memorabilia at Victor Mee’s in Co. Cavan. These auctions are set up and ready to go at a moments notice whenever the all clear is given.  Even where an auction is scheduled to go ahead right now it is advisable to check at the last minute before travelling. All sales at Bonhams are postponed until April 21, there is a revised schedule at Christie’s, Sotheby’s has reduced the schedule, all auctions at James Adam in Dublin are temporarily postponed and Fonsie Mealy is open by appointment only.  Whyte’s offices are closed but business continues behind closed doors and this is the case with many leading auctioneering firms right now.


    Thursday, March 19th, 2020

    The Made in Britain auction at Sotheby’s in London went ahead as planned on March 18 and saw strong results. There was an increased number of bids online, rising to more than 50% of the lots sold, with a final result of £2,113,500, significantly above the pre-sale estimate. Sotheby’s say the result demonstrates a buoyant and positive market, as well as the continued appetite for exceptional property delivered to clients with ease, wherever they may be in the world.



    Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

    The Patrick Kelly sale scheduled to take place at Sotheby’s in London tomorrow has been postponed at the eleventh hour. The sale 44 Fitzwilliam Square, works from the estate of the late Patrick Kelly, had been widely flagged nationally and internationally over the past six months.

    The late property developer Patrick Kelly furnished his Dublin home with an array of Irish painting from the 18th to the 20th centuries, Georgian and Regency furniture, silver and decorative arts. An exceptional William Scott entitled Deep Blues and five works by Yeats was to highlight an auction which featured  highly desirable pieces such as a pair of Irish mirrors and marquetry tables in the style of the great Dublin maker William Moore.

    In a statement released today Sotheby’s said: “Following conversations with the family, the sale of works from the Estate of the Late Patrick Kelly, due to take place at Sotheby’s in London on 18th March, will be postponed owing to the exceptional circumstances.  Since its announcement in October, the sale has been enthusiastically received by the public and collectors alike, and we look forward to holding the sale at a future date when the collection can be rightfully honoured.

    A new sale date will be communicated in due course.”


    Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

    One of the greatest treasures of the early Irish Church the Ardagh Chalice was discovered in the 19th century near Ardagh, Co. Limerick. The form recalls late Roman tableware, the method of construction is Irish with bowl and foot made of spun silver. The outer is decorated with applied gold, silver, glass, amber and enamel ornament. The underside of the foot is highly decorated and contains a polished rock crystal at the centre. It represents a high point in early medieval craftsmanship.

    A Victorian silver gilt replica of this high point in early medieval craftsmanshi comes up at Sotheby’s sale in London on March 18 of 44 Fitzwilliam Square, works from the estate of the late Patrick Kelly. The silver gilt replica two handled rose bowl by Frederick Elkington, London 1879 is inscribed: “Presented to Sir Thomas George Fermor-Hesketh Bart of Rufford. On His Marriage 23. December 1880. By The Tenants on His Lancashire Estates”. It is estimated at £3,000-5,000.

    The Ardagh Chalice replica at Sotheby’s


    Sunday, March 15th, 2020

    THE global attention Ireland enjoys on St. Patrick’s Day in normal circumstances is set to continue at  Sotheby’s in London on March 18 despite coronavirus. In a statement Sotheby’s ceo Charles Stewart said: “To the best of our ability, we are going to continue doing what we do best, which is to connect people with the world’s greatest treasures”. He added that Sotheby’s is technologically equipped to operate business in a variety of scenarios.

    The London auction of contents from 44 Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin will go ahead.  The late property developer Patrick Kelly furnished his Dublin home with an array of Irish painting from the 18th to the 20th centuries, Georgian and Regency furniture, silver and decorative arts. An exceptional William Scott entitled Deep Blues and five works by Yeats will highlight an auction which features  highly desirable pieces such as a pair of Irish mirrors and marquetry tables in the style of the great Dublin maker William Moore. The catalogue with 126 lots is online.

    One of a pair of c1740 Irish George II pier glasses 


    Friday, March 6th, 2020
    Francis Bacon – Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus

    Francis Bacon’s large-format Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus will highlight the Contemporary Art evening auction at Sotheby’s in New York on May 13. It will be offered with an estimate in excess of $60 million.

    Inspired by Aeschylus’s trilogy of Greek tragedies dating to the 5th century B.C. this dates to 1981. The artist revisits the same classical text that inspired Three Studies for Figures at the Base of the Crucifixion at the Tate Collection, London. It is one of the 28 large-format triptychs Bacon created between 1962 and 1991 and reveals in a single work the entire range of an iconography developed over three decades of painting. Sotheby’s describe it as one of his most ambitious, enigmatic, and important works.

    Acquired in 1984 by the Norwegian Collector Hans Rasmus Astrup the triptych has been in the care of Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo since 1993. Hans Rasmus Astrup explained that the museum; “is meant to be a lasting resource for the public, as it builds on the existing collection and grows beyond it. With this single sale we can ensure that the museum and collection are here in perpetuity.”

    Bacon’s theme of divine punishment is found in Aeschylus’ most famous trilogy, The Oresteia, in which Clytemnestra murders her husband Agamemnon in revenge for the sacrifice of their daughter, Iphigenia. When the son Orestes finds out, he kills his mother to avenge his father’s death, provoking the avenging Furies, also called the Eumenides, who determine to drive Orestes insane as punishment.


    Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

    A rare complete set of Beethoven screenprints by Andy Warhol comes up at Sotheby’s sale of prints and multiples in London on March 19. This year marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Warhol spared no effort in transforming the idealised and iconic portrait of the composer by Karl Stieler, into the rock star persona portrayed within this set of four screenprints. Created shortly before Warhol’s death in 1987 they are estimated at £200,000-300,000.


    Saturday, February 29th, 2020

    A Mountainous Wooded Landscape with figures gathering wood by Cork artist John Butts comes up at Sotheby’s sale of 44 Fitzwilliam Square, works from the estate of the late Patrick Kelly in London on March 18. It is estimated at £20,000-30,000. The talented artist, who died aged only 37 in 1764, worked as a teacher in Cork where his pupils included James Barry and Nathanial Grogan. He moved to Dublin around 1757 and worked predominantly as a scene painter. A comparable painting by the artist, Poachers: View in the Dargle, is at Tate Britain.  In a letter written after his death James Barry described him as … “an unfortunate man, who with all his merit never met with any thing but cares and misery, which I may say hunted him into the very grave. His cast of genius was very much that of Claude’s, whom he resembles without any imitation more than anybody that I know of”.  His View of Cork is one of the most popular works in the collection of the Crawford Gallery. 

    JOHN BUTTS – A Mountainous Wooded Landscape with figures gathering wood