All-Hallows art for sale at Sheppard’s

Auctioneer bounces back from cancelled sale of famous Kennedy letters with a major three-day auction

The most keenly anticipated Irish auction of 2014 never took place. Sheppard’s Auctioneers had been due to sell letters, written by former US first lady, Jackie Kennedy to Fr Joseph Leonard, a priest in the All Hallows seminary in Drumcondra, Dublin. But the letters, expected to sell for in excess of €1 million on July 10th, were withdrawn from sale when a dispute arose about their ownership.

Sheppard’s has bounced back with the most ambitious auction in the family-run firm’s 70-year history, a major three-day sale from July 8th to 10th which is, effectively, a mini-series of three auctions. Among the items offered are other key pieces from the art and rare books collection in All Hallows, the DCU-affiliated college which has announced its intention to close.

The first day of the sale features almost 800 lots, including period furniture, jewellery, silver, various collectibles and Asian art. Among the highlights is an 18th/19th century-Chinese cloisonné guang, a vessel used for pouring rice wine at ritual banquets, which is estimated at €20,000-€30,000.

The second day is an art-only auction, titled Five Centuries of Fine Art, and features 70 lots of Irish and European art. Included is a stunning 15th-century Flemish altarpiece which was discovered among junk in a presbytery outhouse by Fr John O’Reilly, parish priest of Piercestown, Co Wexford. It is estimated at €80,000-€120,000.


Art from the collection of All Hallows includes a painting, dated 1927, by Sir John Lavery of Cardinal Patrick Joseph Hayes of New York, the son of emigrant parents from Co Kerry who died in 1938, which is expected to sell for up to €12,000. Also from the All Hallows collection is a beautiful and moving image of The Lamentation (of Christ) attributed to the 18th-century Neapolitan painter Francesco de Mura (€7,000-€10,000).

Among modern European paintings are a Still Life of Roses by 19th-century French artist Paul-Claude Jance (€3,000-€5,000); and Die Parade Ring-Baden-Baden (€3,000-€5,000) an oil-on-canvas from 1941 by Otto Dill which depicts the racecourse parade ring in the Germany city. It offers a rare glimpse of everyday life during the second World War (€3,000-€5,000).

A charming watercolour of Edward VIII when he was still Prince of Wales in 1912, drawn at Buckingham Palace and signed by both the prince and the artist Joseph Finnemore, is €1,500-€2,500.

Day three is devoted to rare books, manuscripts and maps. The top lot, from the library at All Hallows, is a 15th-century Flemish Book of Hours, an illuminated manuscript on vellum in French and Latin (€40,000-€60,000). Sheppard's three-day sale, July 8th-10th. Viewing in Durrow, Co Laois next Saturday, July 5th. Catalogues online at