Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Wednesday, January 18th, 2023
    The Atallah Cross

    The Attallah Cross, a unique piece of jewellery, said to have been favoured by Princess Diana, sold for £163,800 / $197,453 to Kim Kardashian at Sotheby’s Royal and Noble sale in London. There were four bidders in action before the lot was bought by a representative for Ms. Kardashian at more than double its pre-auction estimate.

    (See post on for December 22, 2022)


    Monday, January 16th, 2023
    A pair of late Regency library chairs, possibly by Gillingtons, Dublin c1815

    This pair of late Regency mahogany klismos library chairs, possibly by Gillingtons of Dublin c1815 come up at Sotheby’s in New York on January 31. They are of almost identical form to a set of fourteen supplied by the firm of Gillingtons to Euseby Cleaver, Archbishop of Dublin from 1809 -1820. An identical pair of chairs attributed to Gillingtons was sold Sotheby’s London in 2016 and a single chair of almost identical model previously with Apter Fredericks was sold Sotheby’s London in 2010.  A klismos chair is a type of ancient Greek chair with curved backrest and tapering outward curving legs.

    John Gillington (fl.1787-1809) was made a Freeman of the City of Dublin in 1787 and worked as a cabinetmaker with his sons George and Samuel, trading as John Gillington & Sons from 1810-1814, after which his sons took over the business, recorded in Abbey Street. They were one of the leading furniture making firms in Dublin during the first third of the 19th century along with Mack Williams & Gibton, also located in Abbey Street. The chairs are among several Irish lots at Sotheby’s live auction entitled Hyde Park Antiques: Past, Present and Future, in New York. The estimate is $8,000-12,000. There is a similar estimate on an Irish George II bureau cabinet and a pair of early 19th century brass bound Irish peat buckets is estimated at $5,000-8,000.


    Sunday, January 15th, 2023

    This pair of scagliola pedestals comes up at Sotheby’s timed online Stone IV sale which runs in London on January 17. Described as c1830 and made in England or Ireland, measuring 146 cms in height, they are estimated at £4,000-6,000. A pedestal of identical design is in the collections of Chatsworth House. UPDATE: THESE WERE UNSOLD


    Monday, January 9th, 2023
    Mary Palmer, Marchioness of Thomond, after Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A.
    Portrait of Edward, 1st Lord Eliot (1727-1804). UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    A portrait by Mary Palmer (1750-1820), wife of Murrough O’Brien, Marchioness of Thomond and niece of Sir Joshua Reynolds, comes up at Sotheby’s annual Royal and Noble auction online until January 18.  Her portrait of the  activist, abolitionist and reformer Edward James Eliot, 1st Lord Eliot, MP and Treasury minister during the government of Pitt the Younger, is an almost direct copy of Reynold’s original from 1781.  No signed work by Mary Palmer is known but Sotheby’s say the inscription on the back would appear to securely identify this one as by her hand.  Mary married the fifth Earl of Inchiquin in 1792. They were created Marquis and Marchioness of Thomond in 1800 as a result of their support for the Act of Union.  Mary was chief beneficiary of Sir Joshua’s  will, receiving nearly £100,000 and his art collection.  The portrait is estimated at £7,000-£10,000 (€7,914-€11,305).


    Saturday, January 7th, 2023

    A rare example of Irish recusant silver,  a silver and partially gilt chalice dating to 1636, made £10,080 (€11,670) over a top estimate of £3,000 (€3,473) at Sotheby’s in London last month. Recusancy was the state of loyal catholics who refused to attend Protestant church services after the Reformation.   Measuring just eight inches in height it is inscribed in latin with the words: Orate anima moriarti heverin sacerdotis qui me fieri fecit anno domini 1636 (Pray for the soul of Moriarty Heverin, priest, who had me made, year of Our Lord, 1636). It was originally at the chapel of the now destroyed Ballynastragh House, Gorey,  Co. Wexford.


    Thursday, January 5th, 2023

    This prehistoric pair of fossilised Irish elk antlers comes up at Sotheby’s online sale Emma Hawkins: A Natural World which runs from January 9-19. A pioneering collector and dealer, Emma’s interests range from the extinct to the newly formed, with the natural world an ever-present muse. The auction is drawn from the interiors of townhouses in Edinburgh and London.

    ‘Irish Elk’ or Giant Deer (Megaloceras Giganteus) originated during the Pleistocene Period of the Great Ice Age and is thought to have initially colonised Siberia before migrating towards the west in response to the deteriorating climate, becoming extinct approximately 11,000 years ago. Although the Elk inhabited a vast expanse of central Europe and Asia, the largest concentration of its remains have been found mainly in the marl underlying bogland of Ireland. The estimate is £20,000-£30,000.


    Friday, December 30th, 2022
    Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn

    That was the year that was. With more than €16 billion worth of sales at the worlds three biggest auction houses – Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips – 2022 broke all sorts of records. Consolidated sales at Sotheby’s are projected to reach $8 billion, the highest in its 278 year history. One single owner sale at Christie’s made $1.5 billion and millions of people all around the world tuned in to livestreamed auctions to see paintings like Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn sell for $195 million at Christie’s in May to become the most expensive 20th Century artwork ever sold at auction. The market was driven by fresh to market single owner collections like that of Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen whose collection – not yet entirely sold – has already made $1.5 billion. Phillips’s total sales reached $1.3 billion. Its highest-valued lot was an untitled painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat of a horned devil which sold in New York for $85 million in November.

    It is an exciting time for the market as the year turns. The burning question is: What will 2023 bring?


    Wednesday, December 28th, 2022

    This rare Irish silver memorial lamp with the makers mark J.S. Dublin 1891 sold for $25,200 at Sotheby’s sale of the Halpern Judaica Collection in New York this month. It recalls a largely forgottenn 17th century Jewish population in Dublin which disintegrated in 1791. After the community in London this was the second oldest in Ireland and Britain. In the second half of the seventeenth century, a Jewish community established itself in Dublin. A small synagogue in Crane Lane gave way to larger premises in Marlborough Green in the mid-eighteenth century, but, due to a variety of causes, the congregation disintegrated about 1791, and its furnishings and Torah scrolls were moved to other sites. In 1822, following the arrival of a group of Ashkenazic immigrants, a new congregation formed in Stafford Street that, with time, would come to be called the Dublin Hebrew Congregation. As immigration from Eastern Europe increased later in the century, a number of smaller synagogues sprang up in the South Circular Road-Clanbrassil Street area of Dublin, which became known as “Little Jerusalem.” One of these existed from 1891 to 1895 in Heytesbury Street. It may be this synagogue to which the present Eternal Lamp belonged.

    The lamp is engraved around the rim in Hebrew: “In eternal memory of the members of our community here in Dublin, may its Rock and Redeemer protect it, for from the year [5]552 [1791], when the synagogue was closed, nothing was done for their souls, and now, after the passage of one hundred years, the members of the community donated money to light the memorial lamp in their memory. May their souls be bound up in the Bond of Life. The eve of Rosh Hashanah [5]652 [1891].” The names of the Twelve Tribes are in the medallions.

    1920’s pendant worn by Princess Diana at Sotheby’s

    Thursday, December 22nd, 2022

    The Attallah Cross, a unique 1920s pendant by Garrard worn on several occasions by Princess Diana comes up at Sotheby’s Royal and Noble sale in January with an estimate of £80,000-£120,000. “Jewellery owned or worn by the late Princess Diana very rarely comes on to the market, especially a piece such as the Attallah cross, which is so colourful, bold and distinctive” according to Kristian Spofforth, Head of Jewellery, Sotheby’s London. “To some extent, this unusual pendant is symbolic of the Princess’s growing self-assurance in her sartorial and jewellery choices, at that particular moment in her life. We are confident that this unique 1920s piece of jewellery by Garrard, with such an exceptional provenance and only ever worn by the Princess herself, will attract the attention of a wide variety of bidders, including royal and noble jewellery collectors, as well as fans of the Princess keen to share part of her history.” The Royal and Noble sale runs from January 6-18.

    The Attallah cross was owned by the former group chief executive of Asprey & Garrard, the late Naim Attallah CBE. “Princess Diana and my father were friends and I remember that she often came to see him at the historic Garrard store on Regent Street, where his office was, and she would ask to borrow the pendant on several occasions – she really loved the piece” said Ramsay Attallah, current owner of the cross.

    The Princess most famously wore it in October 1987, paired with a Catherine Walker dress, to a charity gala in support of Birthright, a charity working towards the protection of human rights during pregnancy and childbirth.

    Diana, Princess Of Wales, Arriving At A Charity Gala Evening On Behalf Of Birthright At Garrard. (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)


    Wednesday, December 21st, 2022
    An association copy, number 41 of only 100 numbered copies signed by Joyce

    An association copy of Ulysses, the most important and influential novel of the twentieth century, sold for $189,000 at Sotheby’s sale of Fine Books and Manuscripts in New York. It was number 41 of only 100 numbered copies signed by Joyce and printed on Dutch handmade paper. The estimate was $150,000-250,000.

    The total first edition of Ulysses was limited to 1,000 copies. Following the signed and numbered copies on Dutch handmade paper was an issue of 150 copies on vergé d’Arches paper, and an issue of 750 copies on handmade paper. The official date of publication was Joyce’s birthday, February 2, 1922, but difficulties with the cover meant that in fact only two copies, both from the 1/750 issue, were actually ready that day. No further copies of any issue of Ulysses appeared from the printer until February 9 (when a further batch of the 1/750 arrived), followed by the first of the 1/100 on February 13, and the 1/150 series on March 4. It is now thought that this reflects the order in which Ulysses was actually printed.