Cork artist's Shakespeare scene sells well
The Cork-born artist Daniel Maclise may not be a household name but his most famous work, The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife in the collection of the National Gallery is one of Ireland’s best-known paintings. On Thursday, another major painting by the artist, titled The Wrestling Scene in As You Like It, sold for £337,250 (€415,155) at Christie’s in London. The estimate was £300,000-£500,000.
The painting has been in private ownership since it was first sold, also at Christie’s, in 1868 for 588 guineas. Among the owners since then was Malcolm Forbes, the wealthy American art collector and publisher of Forbes magazine.
The large oil on canvas, measuring 1.2m by 2m, depicts Act 1, Scene 2 from Shakespeare’s play As You Like It with Rosalind and Celia about to watch a wrestling match between Orlando and Charles, a professional wrestler.
Maclise, who was born in 1806, studied art in Cork and then moved to London where he became a successful painter. While he is best remembered in Ireland for The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife (withdrawn, temporarily, from display at the National Gallery as the painting is undergoing conservation) he is best known in Britain for his monumental paintings in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords. His fame secured him the lucrative commission from the palace of Westminster to paint the huge frescoes, depicting significant moments from the Napoleonic wars: the death of Horatio Nelson and the meeting of the Duke of Wellington and Field Marshall Blücher prior to the final defeat of Napoleon. Maclise died of pneumonia in 1870 at the age of 64.
Earlier this month at Mealy’s Rare Books auction in Dublin, a collection of 40 original pencil sketches by Maclise of historical costume and medieval dress sold for €1,400.
Also at Christie’s in London this week, three paintings by Jack B Yeats went under the hammer with the highest price paid for The Little One, an oil dated 1944 which sold for £187,250 (€230,505), way above the estimate of £70,000-£100,000. It is believed that the painting, with an equine theme, was bought by a wealthy Irish art collector with an interest in horse racing.
Four west-of-Ireland landscapes by Paul Henry all sold with Roadside Cottages, Below Mweelrea Mountain, the top lot making £100,850 (€124,146). More modern Irish art fared poorly and all three paintings by Louis le Brocquy not only failed to sell but did not reach their lower estimates.
The last big Irish auction of 2012, Mealy’s two-day sale of fine and decorative art ended on Wednesday with 65 per cent of the 1,300 lots sold. A set of prehistoric giant Irish deer antlers described as “reasonably complete” was the top lot and made €17,000, almost double the highest estimate (€6,000-€9,000). A Victorian mahogany rocking cradle sold for €1,200 (€1,300-€1,500) while an Edwardian pram made €200 (€80-€100).
Gold was in demand and the various lots of South African Krugerrand coins all sold including “10 pure gold Krugerrands, 1975, in almost mint condition” which made €12,000 (€9,000-€11,000).
A 19th century oil painting of The Grand Place, Brussels by Jean-Baptiste Van Moer made €11,500 (€4,000-€6,000).
An unusual pair of German carved and jewelled ivory figures, attributed to Georg Roth of Hanau, circa 1900, sold for €6,500 (€4,000-€6,000).