Time to buy Victorian art?

‘Best collection of Victorian Art ever seen on the market in Ireland’ in Mealy’s Dublin sale


Victorian art has been out of fashion in an international art market dominated by collectors prepared to pay multimillion-euro sums for modernist art.

Some critics scorn 19th-century chocolate-box sentimentality but there’s no denying the artists’ brilliant technical skill or the enduring popular appeal of the subjects.

Victorian art can now be bought for relatively modest prices and could prove a sound investment if, or rather when, sentiment turns.

Mealy’s has announced the sale of what it calls “without doubt the best collection of Victorian art from a single collector ever seen on the market in Ireland”.

The paintings, mainly bought from Christie’s and Sotheby’s in the 1970s and 1980s, are being sold by a private collector.

Examples include World Domination, Four Puppies in a Library over a Creased Map of the World by John Hayes (€8,000-€15,000); and Sweet Tooth (Young Girl with Sheep Dog Feeding Sugar to a Pony) by Alfred William Strutt (€12,000- €18,000). Both in elaborate frames.

The pictures are among 450 lots, from four private collections, in next weekend’s Dublin Residence Sale by Mealy’s who are decamping from Co Kilkenny for a Sunday auction in the Conrad Hotel, Earlsfort Terrace at noon.

Quail egg cups
The owner of a country house in the midlands is also selling several items at the Mealy’s sale, including a selection of satinwood furniture.

An interesting lot is agrand piano by Érard of Paris (€12,000- €18,000).

The unusual collectibles from the same collector include a set of eight Austrian porcelain quail eggcups, each modelled with a cherub holding a shell aloft (€150-€220).

Auctioneer George Gerard Mealy said his client “had excellent taste and frequented London sales buying very high-quality items”.

The second collection in the sale is from the Brighton Square, Rathgar, home of the late Dr Brighid Malone, former assistant master of the National Maternity Hospitalwho died, aged 92, in April.

The 50 lots include paintings by Patrick Hennessy and Maurice MacGonigal as well as period furniture, Regency ceiling lights, silverware and Waterford glass.

Phallic fertility idol
The third private collection in the auction, made up of 60 lots, features Indian and Asian art and was “assembled by a couple who travelled extensively in south east Asia in the 1970s and 1980s”. Mealy is expecting overseas interest for items including a 19th-century “sandstone phallic fertility idol” from Timor (€4,000-€6,000) for which he says he expects “no Irish bids are likely”.

The fourth collection, 150 lots, in this highly eclectic auction, is a selection of contemporary Irish art from “a house in the greater Dublin region” including paintings by Mark O’Neill, Graham Knuttel, James Humbert Craig and sculptures by Patrick O’Reilly, Rowan Gillespie and John Behan.

Viewing next Friday and Saturday at Herbert House, 21 Herbert Street (off Baggot Street), 10am- 8pm.

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