Two Beit works from Russborough House ready for sale
Christie’s auctioneers will sell paintings by John Atkinson Grimshaw in London
A painting by John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893) of Yew Court, Scalby, on a November night, is the first of two works from the Beit collection at Russborough House to be auctioned this week at Christie’s in London.
Two paintings by 19th century English artist John Atkinson Grimshaw (1836-1893) will be in an auction entitled Victorian, Pre-Raphaelite and British Impressionist Art.
Both are scenes of Scalby, a village near the resort of Scarborough in North Yorkshire and each will be sold separately. The first is Yew Court, Scalby, on a November night; and the second is The Old Gates, Yew Court, Scalby, near Scarborough. Each is estimated at £50,000 to £70,000 (€69,091- €96,728).
Grimshaw was a moderately successful Victorian artist best known for his moonlit townscapes. Some of his paintings are in public galleries in Britain but others turn up occasionally at auction.
Sir Alfred Beit bought the paintings at auction in London in 1978.
Tomorrow’s sale is just a curtain-raiser ahead of the sale of the remaining seven pictures, from the selection being sold by the Alfred Beit Foundation, at Christie’s in July. The Old Master paintings – including two by Rubens – are expected to sell for millions.
In all, nine paintings will be auctioned at Christie’s.
An export licence was granted for a 10th painting, entitled The Monk, but the foundation has now decided not to sell it and it is being brought back to Ireland. The decision not to sell it may mean that the attribution to Rubens cannot be established.
The sale of the paintings will be the third disposal at auction by the Alfred Beit Foundation – which looks after Russborough House and its contents in trust for the Irish people – via auction in London in a decade.
Two previous sales – in 2006 and 2013 – raised €5 million. If the paintings sell for their high estimates – over €10 million – the total raised from the various auctions could exceed €15 million.
In December 2006, the Albert Beit Foundation sold a collection of 62 early Italian bronzes at Christie’s in London. They made £2.58 million (€3.8m at the then exchange rate), over £1 million higher than the £1.5 million estimate.
The mainly 16th century bronzes were described by Christie’s as “exceptional” and included a figure of a gladiator by a leading sculptor of the Renaissance, Andrea del Briosco; a figure of a Rampant Satyr attributed to Desiderio da Firenze; a bronze figure of David from the workshop of Bartolomeo Bellano; a bronze figure of Neptune attributed to Tiziano; and a bronze doorknocker from the workshop of Bartolomeo Ammanati.
According to the catalogue for that auction: “Prior to her death in 2005, Lady Beit donated the collection of early Italian bronzes to the Alfred Beit Foundation in order that they might secure the future of Russborough.”
At the second auction in 2013, the foundation sold a collection of Chinese antique ceramics – 20 items in 14 lots – at Sotheby’s in London for just over £1 million (€1.2m at the time), over double the highest estimate. The top lot was a porcelain bowl – made in China during the reign of 18th-century emperor Yongzheng – which made £434,500. The foundation said: “The group of ceramics is surplus to the main collection [at Russborough and] has been held in storage for many years.”
The ceramics had been acquired by Sir Alfred Beit from various London dealers during the 1950s.
Commenting on the latest auction, the Alfred Beit Foundation said “selling this small and very carefully selected group of paintings is an absolute necessity” to fund the “urgent need of ongoing major restoration, maintenance and improvements” at Russborough House.