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    Thursday, January 31st, 2019

    Lucian Freud – Head of a Boy 1956.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £5,799,100

    Lucian Freud’s 1956 portrait of Garech Browne – Head of a Boy – will make its auction debut at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening sale in London on March 5. The portrait bespeaks the lifelong friendship between Lucian Freud and Garech Browne – dedicated patron of Irish music, poetry and culture, Guinness heir, and last custodian to the magical Luggala estate.

    Freud first visited Luggala in the 1940’s with his wife Kitty, before eloping with Garech’s cousin, Lady Caroline Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, in 1952. This painting of a young Garech was created at the Luggala estate during a potentially fractious moment in the course of Freud’s tempestuous second marriage; he and Caroline acrimoniously separated in 1957, barely a year after its execution.

    Embodying the sensational powers of observation which famously characterise Freud’s work, this is a remarkable example of portraiture executed when Freud was just 34 years of age.  Small in scale and yet boasting a remarkable emotional intensity, the 18 by 18cm work is at once testament to the artist’s masterful control over his subject, and a tremendous tribute to the sitter – the late Hon. Garech Browne.  The portrait hung adjacent to the fireplace in the grand sitting room at Luggala for over half a century.  It is estimated at £4.5-6.5 million.

    Garech, who founded Claddagh Records in 1959, became custodian of Luggala in 1970 and continued the legacy of legendary Guinness hospitality.  He relished live performances by musicians. The Luggala visitors’ book highlights the diversity of musicians who spent time at the house from 1970: singer Dolores Keane, composer Frederick May, singer Marianne Faithfull, Sting, Bono, The Rolling Stones, Mick and Bianca Jagger, and Michael Jackson.


    Thursday, January 31st, 2019

    Sir Peter Paul Rubens’s Nude Study of Young Man with Raised Arms.

    There was a new world auction record for a drawing by Sir Peter Paul Rubens’s when Nude Study of Young Man with Raised Arms made $8.2 million at Sotheby’s in New York.  Considered one of the most important drawings by the artist to appear on the open market in over 50 years it more than doubled the high estimate of $3.5 million.  There was intense competition between two bidders at the morning sale of Old Master Drawings.

    Drawn by the artist shortly after his return to Antwerp from Italy in late 1608 and in preparation for his monumental altarpiece, The Raising of the Cross, the drawing provides the viewer with a fascinating insight into Rubens’s working methods, as well as the energy and vigor employed by the artist in his best drawings.  Throughout his life, Rubens made substantial, chalk figure studies, but his drawings of this type are at their most imposing and sculptural in these first years back in Antwerp. At this pivotal moment, Rubens made figure studies that are genuinely Michelangelesque.

    It formerly belonged to King William II of the Netherlands and his wife Anna Pavlovna, who together amassed one of the finest collections formed anywhere in Europe in the 19th century. While many of the works they owned now reside in major museums, both in the Netherlands and around the world, this drawing was among those that passed down privately through the family.


    Monday, January 21st, 2019

    Egon Schiele (1890 – 1918)
    Triestiner Fischerboot (Trieste Fishing Boat)  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £10.7 MILLION

    A Modernist vision of a Trieste fishing boat by Egon Schiele comes to auction for the first time at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art evening sale in London on February 26.  Painted in 1912, Triestiner Fischerboot (Trieste Fishing Boat) holds a unique position in Schiele’s oeuvre.  It was created in the aftermath of what was arguably the most tumultuous and life-changing experience for the artist. Recently released from a brief period of incarceration in Neulengbach in Austria, and rejected by the local community there, Schiele’s visit to Trieste in 1912 was prompted by a desire to escape memories of the recent past, and relive memories of earlier visits shared with his sister Gerti in 1907 and 1908.

    It also prompted an unleashing of radical new artistic expression. In a year of iconoclastic developments across Europe that forever altered the direction of twentieth-century art, from Cubism, Orphism and Futurism to Expressionism, Schiele sought to explore in oil a thoroughly modernist treatment of colour, surface, pattern, texture and form. The painting is estimated at  £6,000,000-8,000,000.

    In the summer of the preceding year Schiele and the model Wally Neuzil had settled in Neulengbach seeking inspiration but Schiele’s bohemian lifestyle scandalised his conservative neighbours. The couple found themselves in a precarious position when a retired naval officer’s daughter asked for their help to run away and although they returned the girl to her parents, the artist was arrested and placed on trial. The experience and particular loss of freedom it entailed was to have a marked effect on Schiele’s life and work.


    Thursday, January 10th, 2019

    Works by James Malton and Sir William Orpen are amongst the Irish lots at Sotheby’s upcoming sale The Fine Art Society: 142 years on New Bond Street next February 5. Malton’s View of the Provost’s House and Trinity College, Dublin is estimated at £20,000-30,000.  The watercolour with pen and ink is signed and dated 1796.

    Orpen’s oil of canvas of Miss Dorothy Stiles, a keen golfer who grew up in the Scots medical world, has an estimate of £40,000-60,000. It was commissioned by her parents for her 21st birthday.  Dorothy is the only person to have been captain of Gullane Ladies Golf Club in East Lothian twice.





    Sunday, December 23rd, 2018

    Claude Monet – Le Palais Ducal  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £27.5 MILLION

    A rare view of Venice by Claude Monet will come to auction for the first time at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale in London on February 26. Le Palais Ducal has been in the same family collection since 1925 when it was acquired by Erich Goeritz, a Berlin-based textile manufacturer. Goeritz built an extensive collection that was both eclectic and forward-thinking, counting among its number celebrated works such as Édouard Manet’s Un bar aux Folies-Bergère, now in the Courtauld Insitute of Art, London.  Philanthropic in his artistic endeavours he gifted a substantial number of works to the newly founded Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 1933 as well as donating to British institutions including the British Museum and the Tate

    Claude Monet arrived in Venice on 1 October 1908 – and, taken aback by the splendour of what he saw, the artist declared the city ‘too beautiful to paint’. Enchanted by the city, Monet painted just under forty canvases during the course of his three month stay, the greater part of which adorn the walls of museums across the globe. This one depicts the historic Gothic façade of the Doge’s palace, and it belongs to a celebrated group of three works painted from the vantage of a boat moored along the canal, one of which is held in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum in New York.  Painted in 1908 Le Palais Ducal is estimated at £20-30 million.


    Friday, December 21st, 2018

    Auctions at Sotheby’s worldwide totalled $5.3 billion in 2018.  This is a 12% increase over 2017. Online buyers spent more than $200 million this year and 25% of all lots sold in 2018 were sold online.  The top lot of the year at any auction house was Modigliani’s Nu Couche which sold for $157.2 million in New York in May.  This was the highest auction price in Sotheby’s history.

    Queen Marie Antoinette’s pearl sold for $36.2 million in Geneva in November.

    Amedeo Modigliani Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) Signed Modigliani (lower left)



    Saturday, December 8th, 2018

    The key to the Eccles St. home of Leopold Bloom.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £7,500

    A key created by James Joyce to help his friends keep track of Ulysses comes up at Sotheby’s book sale in London on December 10.  Seven copies were produced in total as the author ever wanted it to be shared too widely. In his words ‘If I give it all up immediately, I’d lose my immortality. I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant”.  However by 1930 it has been seen so widely that Joyce allowed its publication.  Another lot in the sale is the latchkey to Leopold Bloom’s fictional home at 7 Eccles Street, Dublin. In Ulysses, Bloom’s missing latchkey has been interpreted in Freudian terms as a symbol of his loss of potency, and in political terms as a synecdoche of Irish dispossession before Independence, but given Joyce’s careful mapping of Dublin in the novel it is also a key to a real front door – the home of one of Joyce’s friends. The key was rescued by a Joyce scholar when the house was demolished in the 1960s. The house’s front door was also reclaimed and is now exhibited at Dublin’s James Joyce Centre.

    A little more background on the story of the key in Ulysses – Bloom leaves his latchkey behind in the pocket of yesterday’s trousers when he departs from his home at the beginning of his day’s odyssey. He had reminded himself several times to pick up the key before going out, and his annoyance at his own forgetfulness recurs several times in the novel. Finally, when Bloom staggers home in the early hours of the morning with Stephen Dedalus , he puts his hand in his empty pocket to retrieve his key, so he has to hop the fence and come in by the back door.

    Sotheby’s specialist Gabriel Heaton said: “So our sale has two keys to Ulysses. One is a secret that was never kept but has guided generations of students through the novel; the other once unlocked a front door that now opens onto a brick wall. The very fact that these items still attract such interest shows that Joyce’s immortality is safe enough, and one cannot help but think that Joyce himself would have taken great pleasure in the appearance at auction of his fictional hero’s lost key.”

    The current example is one of three copies of the definitive English schema to precede the novel’s publication, the other two being for the translator Valery Larbaud and the publisher Sylvia Beach.   The online sale runs December 10.

    UPDATE:  The schema sold for £47,500, the key for £7,500.


    Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

    1860-1940 ‘ROMEO AND JULIET’

    At Sotheby’s in London today Romeo and Juliet by Roderic O’Conor was the top lot in what was the most valuable sale of Irish art so far this year. It made £364,000 in the sale of the Brian P. Burns collection which brought in a total of £3,307,375, the highest total for a private collection of Irish art sold at auction.  It was one of eleven lots from an auction of 100 Irish paintings which crashed through the £100,000 barrier.

    Armistice Day, November 11th 1918, Grosvenor Place, London by Sir John Lavery

    The others were  Seascape, Orange and Red Rocks by Roderic O’Conor (£100,000) Red Rocks, Brittany by Roderic O’Connor (£100,000)  Armistice Day, November 11th 1918 by Sir John Lavery (£250,000) Seated Boy and Sea by Walter Osborne (£137,500) Misty Morning by Jack B. Yeats (£286,000)  St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle by F J Davis (£243,750)  The Lonely Sea by Jack B. Yeats (£125,000) The Beach, Tangier by Sir John Lavery (£100,000) Harmsworth Interior Portrait by Sir William Orpen (£112,500) and The Laugh by Jack B Yeats (£225,000).

    Sir John Lavery’s Armistice Day, November 11th 1918 was acquired by the Imperial War Museums.  Self Portrait with Palette by Kathleen Fox was acquired by the National Self Portrait Collection at the University of Limerick.


    (See posts on antiquesandartireland,com for November 17 and August 22, 2018).


    Saturday, November 17th, 2018
    The Brian P. Burns collection of Irish art  comes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London on November 21.  Internationally promoted this sale of 100 lots spans Irish artists from the 18th century to the present day and includes works by Yeats, O’Conor, Lavery, Orpen, Osborne, Leech, Nathaniel Hone, James Brenan and Rowan Gillespie.
    Now aged over 80 Sotheby’s describe the collection he formed over a lifetime as one of the greatest collections of Irish art in private hands.  He has generously loaned his collection to exhibitions in America and Ireland and created new audiences for and awareness of Irish art.  Here is a selection from the sale:

    (See post on for August 22, 2018)

    UPDATE:  The sale total including buyer’s premium was £3,307,375 making this the single most valuable auction of Irish art this year.

    Walter Frederick Osborne, At the Breakfast Table  UPDATE: THIS WAS UNSOLD

    Roderic O’Conor, Seascape, Orange and Red Rocks  UPDATE: THIS MADE 100,000


    St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle by F.J. Davis  UPDATE: THIS MADE £243,750


    Thursday, November 15th, 2018

    Gerhard Richter – Abstraktes Bild

    Gerhard Richter’s monumental Abstraktes Bild from 1987 led Sotheby’s Contemporary Art evening sale in New York last night. It made $32 million in an auction which totalled $362.2 million.  This was up 17% on November 2017.  With 97% of lots sold it was Sotheby’s fourth consecutive art evening auction in New York with a sell through rate of over 95%.  Sales from the collection of David Teiger have now crossed $100 million and more auctions from his collection will be held in 2019.

    Grégoire Billaut, Head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Department in New York, said: “Tonight’s results were among the best we have ever achieved, and reinforced the strong and consistent market we have experienced throughout the fall. From a record Contemporary Curated sale in September to our best online sale to-date and a 100%-sold Day Auction in Hong Kong, the market continues to grow across price levels. We saw a depth of bidding throughout the sale from buyers around the globe, and achieved great records for some very deserving names. Our goal is always to deliver for our consignors, and we did just that with an exceptional sell-through rate.”

    David Hockney Montcalm Interior with 2 Dogs sold for $12.7 million

    Jean-Michel Basquiat Untitled (Pollo Frito) sold for $25.7 million