Mid-year report: The Irish art market is doing well but could do better

It is almost mid-point in the 2014 auctions calendar and the results from two major art sales in Dublin this week suggest that the Irish market is recovering from the slump which followed the economic crash of 2008.

At Adam's Important Irish Art auction, on Wednesday, 90 per cent of lots sold and managing director James O'Halloran said afterwards "there was a 'fizz' in the saleroom that's been missing for some time". He noted that "the average sold rate at Adam's over the last few years has been about 80 per cent, so this marks a new high and suggests once again that the demand for fresh, well-provenanced quality works is at a new high."

Earlier in the week, at Whyte's Important Irish and International Art auction, in the RDS on Monday, 75 per cent of lots sold and managing director Ian Whyte said that bidders from 14 countries outside Ireland had participated via the internet.

Deepwell Collection

at Adam’s

The top lot in Adam’s was a painting by Roscommon-born Impressionist artist Roderic O’Conor, a French landscape titled


Chemin Mènant à Grez

which made €210,000 within the estimate (€150,000-€250,000).

The painting was from the collection of the Reihill family, owners of the fuel importing business Tedcastles, and had hung in the dining room of their house, Deepwell, in Blackrock, south Dublin which they sold earlier this year.

It was one of four paintings by O'Conor in the collection which went under the hammer. Of the other three, a Landscape with Garden and Mountain sold for €36,000 (€35,000-€45,000); a Landscape with Trees, Nueil-sur-Layon made €25,000 (€50,000-€70,000); but, a nude, Le Drap Blanc (€60,000-€80,000) failed to sell.

Among other highlights from the Deepwell Collection: a tapestry by Louis le Brocquy, Cúchulainn IV (number two from an edition of nine) sold for €120,000, double the highest estimate (€40,000-€60,000); and an oil-on-board painting, The Port Authority by Seán Keating, made €80,000 (€80,000-€120,000). There was a very strong price, €97,000, achieved for an oil-on-canvas titled Beero by Northern Irish artist William Conor. The painting, which depicts a group of Belfast coalmen drinking in a dockside pub, dates from 1956 and was commissioned by the Reihill family from the artist. The estimate was €30,000-€50,000. A Dusty Rose by Jack B Yeats, bought by the Reihills in 1944 for £55, sold for €62,000 (€50,000-€70,000).

Other Adam’s highlights

Aside from the Deepwell Collection, other highlights in the sale included

Passenger Line Black

by Seán Scully which made €80,000 (€40,000-€60,000); Gerard Dillon’s

Footing the Turf

made €29,000 (€30,000-€50,000); and a French colonial-era Moroccan scene,

The Market Place, Tangier

by Aloysius O’Kelly, made €9,500 (€4,000-€6,000). Frank McKelvey’s

Running Home From School,

soared above the estimate, €6,000-€8,000, and sold for €18,000.

Adam’s said €1.58 million was spent in the sale.

Strong internet bidding at Whyte’s

The impact of internet bidding was more evident at Whyte’s on Monday where almost every lot in the sale of Irish and International Art attracted bidders online competing with auction-goers in the saleroom and on the telephone. Overall, 75 per cent of lots sold for a total of €850,000 and 29 per cent of winning bids were from online bidders in locations as diverse as Canada, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

The auction included many paintings by the leading Irish women artists of the 20th century. Trees by Mary Swanzy exceeded its top estimate and sold for €22,000 (€15,000-€18,000). Other paintings by women artists included: Salmon Fishing on the Boyne, by Nano Reid, which made €24,000, just under the estimate (€25,000-€35,000); while Bathers At Mornington, also by Nano Reid, made €12,000, (€6,000-€12,000). Painting 1930 by Mainie Jellett (€20,000-€30,000) failed to sell.

The highest price of the evening was achieved for Gerard Dillon's Home with the Catch which sold for €60,000 (€60,000-€80,000) which depicts a Connemara fisherman returning to his wife and daughter with two fish in his hand. A classic Paul Henry, Turf Stacks With Mountain Beyond, made €21,000, just above estimate (€15,000-€20,000).

There was strong demand for prints by international artists which had been consigned from the Taylor Gallery in Belfast which has ceased trading. A print of a painting by Andy Warhol of an advertisement featuring Ronald Reagan, sold for €9,500 (€10,000-€15,000). A Banksy print, titled Love Is In The Air, number 417 from an edition of 500, made €15,000 (€5,000-€7,000). Strand, a painting of horses on a beach, by Patrick Hennessy, made €8,500 (€6,000-€8,000).

Paintings of 1916 Rising

Possibly the most interesting lot in Whyte’s was a pair of pastel paintings of Dublin made during the 1916 Rising titled

A View Of The Irish Flag Over The GPO


Sackville Street

which sold for €2,900, surprisingly falling below the estimate of €3,000-€5,000.

The artist was Edmond Delrenne, described as “a Belgian refugee”. Auctioneer Ian Whyte said “Delrenne appears to have been the only artist to have painted Dublin during the Rising while it was actually happening”. Their sale for below the estimate suggests that the much-anticipated rise in value for items associated with the Rising may not materialise.


art in London

Paintings of maritime scenes by two of Ireland’s best-known artists were among the top lots in


auction of British and Irish Art on Wednesday.

Island Men Returning

by Jack B Yeats, depicting two currachs pulling back into harbour, made £69,700 (£60,000-£80,000). Boats at Sea by Paul Henry with a similar estimate, failed to sell.

For full results see: adams.ie; whytes.ie; and bonhams.com