Mirrors, silver and furniture in Adam’s whopping €20 catalogue

Dublin auctioneer to hold annual sale of some 900 lots at Townley Hall in Co Louth

Fine Arts

A Mountainous Wooded River Landscape with Waterfall and Three Figures by George Barret Snr (c.1728-1784) estimated at €200,000-€400,000.

 

The catalogue for Adam’s forthcoming annual ‘Country House Collections’ auction costs €20. But it admits two people to the viewing and sale – which is just as well, because lugging around the 382-page tome, that weighs a staggering 1.6 kg, could be a challenge for one. A less weighty – and more manageable – option is to simply to consult the free online version.

The three days of viewing, which begin this morning, and the auction itself, on Tuesday (October 10th) take place not in the St Stephen’s Green saleroom but, instead, offsite at Townley Hall – a Georgian country house – near Drogheda, Co Louth. To get there take the M1 northbound from Dublin and exit at Slane.

This is a whopping catalogue for a marathon auction with almost 900 lots. That’s pretty unwieldy for a one-day sale so Adam’s, which formerly spread this annual event over two days, is trying a new format.

The first 718 lots will be auctioned live on the day; the remaining 180 lots (at the end of the catalogue) will be sold via a timed, online-only sale which is now underway. See adams.ie for details on how to register for bidding.

The very upmarket auction is filled with furniture, pictures, silver, porcelain and collectables, chosen to appeal especially to people who live, or would like to live, in Georgian or Victorian period country or townhouses.

Although Townley House itself is just a venue and its contents are long gone, the auction includes items which once furnished similar gentry houses throughout Ireland.

There’s plenty of choice in all categories and, among the pictures, is the highest-estimated item in the auction – Lot 200, an Irish Georgian oil-on-canvas painting entitled A Mountainous Wooded River Landscape with Waterfall and Three Figures by George Barret Snr (c.1728-1784) estimated at €200,000-€400,000.

In brief notes about its provenance, Adam’s said it was bought it the 1960s at auction in London by the late businessman Senator Edward McGuire, the erstwhile owner of Brown Thomas, and hung in the drawing room of his house in Newtown Park in Blackrock, Co Dublin. It was sold by him in the mid 1980s and there’s no information on who has owned it since.

Although no longer well-known, the Dublin-born George Barret was regarded as an important landscape painter in the 18th century and received numerous commissions from the aristocracy in Ireland and in England (he moved to London in 1762). The location of the landscape in this painting has not been identified but it is believed to be an Irish view.

At the other end of the price scale, there’s a wonderful Victorian painting, Lot 275, A Game of Marbles by William Henry Knight, estimated at just €3,000-€5,000. [see above]. Knight, an English artist well-known for his popular depictions of children playing, painted this picture just before he died, aged 39, in 1863.

Among the furniture, Lot 281, is an Irish Georgian mahogany side-table, which dates to about 1750, associated with Hilton Park in Monaghan and described as “a particularly beautiful example of the genre” (€20,000-€30,000); and Lot 307, a 19th century Killarney-ware davenport arbutus wood desk with marquetry depicting views of the Swiss Cottage and Muckross House (also €20,000-€30,000).

There’s a big selection of important mirrors, most notably Lot 282, an Irish Georgian giltwood pier mirror by the Booker Brothers, John & Francis of Essex Bridge, Dublin which has the makers’ trade label still affixed – a real rarity which partially explains the whopping estimate of €50,000-€80,000.

More affordable is Lot 69, a pair of “mirrors similar to those in Buckingham Palace” – George II giltwood, framed wall mirrors, dated to circa 1740, and attributed to Benjamin Goodison – an English maker who supplied the nobility and royal family. The estimate is €6,000-€10,000.

The silver highlight is Lot 125, an Irish George III silver presentation tray, made by silversmith John Lloyd in Dublin in 1776, weighing 2,300 grams, with an estimate of €4,000-€6,000.

Appropriately, given the location of the auction, the tray has a Drogheda connection – as it is inscribed: ‘The Gift of The Corporation of Drogheda to Hugh Montgomery Lyons Esq, one of Sheriffs of said Town in testimony of Their regard to Him for his spirited and proper conduct in that office AD 1776’.

Among the porcelain, Lot 459, is a pair of mid-19th century Sèvres vases painted with classical landscapes and raised on 3ft tall red marble pedestals (€7,000-€10,000). 

And Lot 217, a Chinese blue-and-white ‘moon flask’ vase, dated early 18th century (Yongzheng period) with a provenance described as ‘Collection Patrice de Vogué, Château de Vaux le Vicomte, France’ (€20,000-€30,000).

As is often the case in salerooms, the quirkier and less expensive items can be most eye-catching. Lot 718 is, surely, the most bizarre item to appear at auction this year: a mink fur hearth rug – estimated at €120-€180.

Lot 1, is a Victorian wood post box from the Albany Club in London, with letterbox above a single panel door with applied brass plaque, inscribed ‘The Albany Club’ with hours of posting, that was formerly in the collection of “Dr T Ryan” (€3,000-€5,000).

Lot 16 is an Edwardian mahogany folding bootrack (€100-€150); and Lot 18 is a glass case of 19th century taxidermy by H. Ward, 2 Vere St, Oxford St, London, that includes pheasants, partridges and various exotic birds, that once adorned Cabra Castle in Co Cavan and is being sold, with an estimate of €500-€1,000 “by order of the Executors of Eileen, Countess of Mount Charles”.

Now there’s provenance.

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