Ivory and tigers at home in Adam’s sale
Reclining tiger painting may appeal to bidders nostalgic for the ‘Celtic Tiger’ days
Trade in ivory (derived from elephant tusks) has been outlawed for decades by international rules on wildlife protection. But there’s an ongoing – and often bitter – debate about what should be done with pieces of antique ivory which were made long before the ban came into force.
Ivory was widely used in the decorative arts – especially in Asia – and frequently turns up in antiques auctions. There is a good selection in Adam’s “At Home” auction in Dublin on Sunday, including Lot 105, “a Japanese silver, ivory and shibayama [lacquer] tusk vase”, estimated at €1,500–€2,000; Lot 110 “a Chinese carved ivory basket and cover, Canton 19th century”, €2,000–€3,000; and Lot 100, a dramatic Japanese bronze group (Meiji period) depicting an elephant being attacked by tigers, €1,000-€1,500).
It is ironic that the Asian tiger came to be associated with boomtime Ireland but for those who like the idea a modern painting, Lot 221, of “A Reclining Tiger in a River Landscape”, estimated at €3,000-€5,000, may appeal to bidders nostalgic for the old “Celtic Tiger” days – or celebrating their apparent return. [see picture]
The top estimate is for Lot 171, an early Victorian oil painting, Mare and Foal, by John Frederick Herring Snr, estimated at €5,000-€7,000, and the equestrian subject is likely to have wide appeal.
Adam’s seems to have found a winning formula, with its Sunday “At Home” auctions appealing to weekenders with time to attend both viewings and sales rather than trying to attend the more traditional midweek events.
Leisure activityA similar sale last month – on Sunday, March 3rd – achieved a sold rate of 81 per cent, with bidders spending €400,000. Auctioneer James O’Halloran said “these Sunday sales have become increasingly popular as participation in a fine art auction is, happily, now considered an entertaining leisure activity”.
Many of the lots this Sunday came from a Victorian house in south Co Dublin, which, he said, had “yielded up a marvellous mix of the exceptional, the weird and the wonderful – including some truly lovely things on offer – pieces that haven’t seen the light of day for decades”.
However, certainly not lovely is Lot 180, “a most unusual Victorian chair made from animal parts with antler back, a hairy hide seat and four hairy legs with hoof feet” estimated at €100-€200.
Mr O’Halloran said it is “the most fascinating lot of the sale, and looks ready to run away – and at €100 would be a very effective naughty chair’.” To a generation of children brought up on Tolkien, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones it might rather be considered a perk.
Adam’s “At Home” auction is on Sunday, April 9th, at noon. Viewing Saturday from 11am-5pm in the saleroom at 26 St Stephen’s Green. See adams.ie