Art viewings are back for high summer sales

Auction rooms are opening again, but bids will continue online for now

With lockdown restrictions lifting, auction houses are beginning to open up for public viewings once again. Both de Vere’s of Kildare Street and Whyte’s of Molesworth Street and have reopened their sales rooms for viewings in advance of their forthcoming online-only sales on June 30th and July 6th respectively.

Viewers can expect quite a few changes : the drift of customers who might normally visit these rooms to view art during a lunchtime break will now have to make an appointment to view in accordance with health guidelines.

Masks, hand sanitiser and gloves will be on hand to assure customer safety and customers’ details will be logged should the need for contract tracing arrive. Once the formalities are over, the art can be enjoyed.

Whyte's has quite a bumper catalogue of almost 250 lots for its Summer Art Sale on July 6th.  Top of the bill is Claddagh Village by Paul Henry; a departure from his rural landscapes, but with his signature bulbous clouds suspended mid-air over the small fishing village in Galway that was demolished some years ago. (Lot 15, €40,000-€60,000).

Also listed is Still Life with Mug, a pared back work by William Scott, whose work has attracted competitive bidding in recent times, with White with Black Predominating, achieving £275,000 (including fees) through Sotheby's last November. (Lot 51, €15,000-€20,000).

Rugby 1933 by William Greengrass, a linocut on Japanese mulberry tissue is a playful interlude for those pining rugby fixtures. (Lot 24, €3,000-€5,000).

Sculpture

Striking examples of Irish sculpture are included in the sale including two exceptional pieces by Orla de Brí, along with works by Rory Breslin, John Behan, Joseph Sloan, as well as the lesser spotted Eamonn O'Doherty - with price guides from €1,000 to €5,000.

O'Doherty created one of the best known sculptures in Dublin; the Anna Livia monument, or the Floozie in the Jacuzzi as she became colloquially known. The work was commissioned by businessman Michael Smurfit in memory of this father, and was originally placed in O'Connell Street, but it was removed in 2001 and eventually surfaced in 2011 in the Croppies Acre Memorial Park on Wolfe Tone Quay.

A number of strong examples of the 'Belfast Boys'; Daniel O'Neill, George Campbell and Arthur Armstrong are also represented, especially the captivating The Apprentice Clown by O'Neill. (Lot 32, €8,000-€12,000).

Quirky lots include a miniature, cased in gold attributed to John Stordy (lot 141, €600-€800) and a Francis Bacon exhibition poster (lot 78, €300-€500) with reasonably priced works by Sean Keating, Harry Kernoff Tony O'Malley and Ivan Sutton.

Online reports

The auction house now also gives online condition reports with insightful notes on each painting along with a written guarantee for each work.

"Under normal circumstances we would talk through a painting with a client during viewing, and advise them on how what should be changed if anything" according to Ian Whyte.

Now clients can get an insight on any recommendations on a piece of art work in the sale. For example, the catalogue entry for lot 68 Two Studies towards an Image of James Joyce by Louis le Brocquy, (€30,000-€40,000) recommends "It would be prudent for the future owner to replace the framing materials with conservation grade mount board to preserve the condition going forward."

While the house has always guaranteed works sold, now each artwork sold comes with a written guarantee.

“It is very important these days, as there are many online platforms where you can buy art, but there is no guarantee that the work is authentic, as many are sold by an individual and not a reputable auction house. We have done this so buyers have the confidence to buy online. They can use this for insurance purposes, and it is best kept with the artwork, as it shows provenance if the work is ever to be sold on” says Whyte.

Mid-century design

Highlights of the De Vere's sale on June 30th include The Tain, Cuchulainn Mounting into his Chariot, an Aubusson tapestry by Louis le Brocquy (lot 13, €15,000-€20,000) and Ketchup Bottle by Neil Shawcross (lot 17, €3,000-€5,000) in addition to some lovely pieces of design furniture by Arne Vodder, Max Divani and Fritz Hansen.

Collectors of Scandinavian mid-century design pieces will have interest in two pairs of Siesta chairs by Ingmar Relling for Westnofa. (Lots 54 and 55, €600-€900)

Relling is Norway's most internationally recognised designer and considered to be a major player in Scandinavian modern mid-century design movement. These chairs, which he designed in collaboration with his son in 1965, won a prize at the Industry Council for Furniture. They became his career defining design, with former US president Jimmy Carter a fan. Carter purchased 16 of these chairs to furnish the White House during his tenure as leader of the free world.

A further design icon is a set of black leather 6727 swivel chairs by Preben Fabricus and Jorgen Kastholm for Walter Knoll. Known as the FK Bucket Seat, the catalogue describes them as "international design history and a beacon of modernity and minimalism." (Lot 26, €1,200-€1,600).

The sale also includes a number of reasonably priced modernist tables, and a good selection of sofas and lighting.

While both sales are online only, to book an appointment to view works in advance contact the auction houses by telephone or email. See whytes.ie and deveres.ie.