Made in Britain? Not quite, Sotheby’s, there’s Irish in there too

Joseph Walsh, whose studio is in Co Cork, has also exhibited in the Pompidou in Paris

 

Fans of the Irish furniture designer Joseph Walsh, whose studio is in Riverstick, Co Cork, might be bemused at this inclusion in a Sotheby’s auction called “Made in Britain” next Wednesday which “showcases the very best in modern British art across paintings, prints, photography, ceramics and design”. But his Enignum II chair is one of the highlights and is estimated at £5,000-£7,000. Sotheby’s describes him as a “wood magician” for his ability to create the perfect combination of beautiful sculpture and functional design. The title derives from the Latin words “enigma” (mystery) and “lignum” (wood).

His work is in the permanent collections of institutions including the National Museum of Ireland, the Pompidou in Paris, the Cooper Hewitt in New York, and the Devonshire collection at Chatsworth. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by UCC in 2015 in recognition of his contribution to design.

The Enignum II chair is a design highlight of a sale that “showcases the very best in modern British art across paintings, prints, photography, ceramics and design”. The chair, made of olive ash and upholstered in suede, is catalogued as a gift from the artist to the unnamed owner, a private collector in London.

Quintessential Britishness

There’s no dispute about the quintessential Britishness of another highlight: a photographic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. She may be the most photographed person in history and yet, thanks to art, it is still possible to see her in a new light. Lightness of Being was made in 2004, when the queen was aged 78, by photographer Chris Levine who was born in Ontario, Canada, and now lives and works in England. During the photoshoot, the queen was required to sit still for eight seconds at a time, and between the pauses she closed her eyes to rest. Sotheby’s said: “Levine was struck by the beauty of her meditative state and snapped the shutter, resulting in this powerful and strikingly modern image.” This portrait of the queen is considered Levine’s most famous shot and the unique pigment print is appearing at auction for the first time with an estimate of £50,000-£70,000 .

Also in New Bond Street, London, on Wednesday, Bonhams “important design” auction features some lots of Irish interest including a rare 18th-century Irish provincial silver mug by Mark Fallon, Galway, circa 1730, £12,000-£15,000; and, a Tiffany 19th-century silver and mixed metals three-piece “after-dinner” coffee service, formerly the property of the 7th Viscount Powerscourt, Mervyn Wingfield (1836-1904), estimated at £10,000-£15,000.

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