Sales dip at RHA’s annual exhibition

Royal Hibernian Academy event seen as a barometer for wider Irish art market

Sales dipped at this year's annual exhibition at the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), which featured a record number of artists and works of art.

The RHA exhibition, now in its 188th year, is the largest in Ireland and the longest-running. The performance of the event is seen as a barometer for the wider Irish art market.

The 416 Irish and international artists featured at the annual event exhibited a total of 606 individual pieces, covering painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, print and drawing.

While sales were down on the €486,000 recorded in 2017, they still exceeded €400,000 for only the third time since the economic crash.


Investment managers Quilter Cheviot says sales are still up by 50 per cent from their 2011 lows and visitor numbers almost three times higher than in 2009. The 2017 sales were the highest since before the crash and up 30 per cent on the previous year.


"This is a superb reflection of Ireland's art market," said Daragh Murphy, regional development manager at Quilter Cheviot. "Having been involved with the academy for the past 10 years, it is encouraging to see the event going from strength to strength, particularly as it serves as such a fine showcase for Irish art."

The most expensive work sold at the exhibition this year was an oil on canvas by Donald Teskey – entitled Crum Creek – at €25,000. That's down from the €35,000 paid for an Imogen Stuart sculpture, Europe, last year.

RHA curator Ruth Carroll said the gallery was delighted with the strong attendance figures for the exhibition, with more than 50,000 visitors at the show which ran from May 22nd to August 11th.

“Although we did see a marked decrease in sales in the corporate market, the majority of this year’s buyers were private and showed a marked increase in sale of artworks under the €2,000 level, with Irish photography and print again proving popular with buyers on all levels, she said.

Painting and drawing were the most popular pieces this year, accounting for close to 60 per cent of the pieces sold, with print and photography also popular at around a third of sales. Sculpture accounted for the remainder of the pieces.

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle

Dominic Coyle is Deputy Business Editor of The Irish Times