Pearse ‘surrender letter’ and major Yeats painting fail to sell at Adam’s

Paul Henry and Sean Keating paintings sell for €135,000 and €130,000 at Morgan O’Driscoll auction

Glory To The Brave Singer by Jack B Yeats, estimated at €250,000-€350,000, failed to reach its undisclosed reserve price and was unsold at Adam’s on Wednesday

Glory To The Brave Singer by Jack B Yeats, estimated at €250,000-€350,000, failed to reach its undisclosed reserve price and was unsold at Adam’s on Wednesday

 

In one of the busiest weeks of the year in Irish salerooms, the most expensive lot ever offered at auction, the “Pearse surrender letter” with a top estimate of €1.5 million failed to sell at Adam’s when bidding stalled at €770,000 and the item was withdrawn.

Among other 1916 lots in the auction, two original copies of the 1916 Proclamation, each signed by the printer Christopher Brady, went under the hammer, separately, each estimated at €250,000-€350,000. Only one, Lot 52, sold – for €150,000 – way below estimate.

After a year of centenary commemorations, interest in 1916 memorabilia is on the wane and collectors may have to wait until the 150th anniversary for a revival in both demand and prices.

But the main part of the sale at Adam’s, on Wednesday evening, was a selection of Irish art which the company had described as “some of the finest” to appear at auction in years.

However, the highest estimated work in the auction, Lot 45, Glory To The Brave Singer by Jack B Yeats – estimated at €250,000-€350,000 – failed to reach its undisclosed reserve price and was unsold. Perhaps Yeats, like the Easter Rising, has suffered from overkill in 2016?

Of the other Yeats oil paintings: Lot 46, Man Hearing an Old Song, sold for €36,000, below the low estimate (€40,000-€60,000); Lot 47, Lambay, made €35,000, well above estimate (€15,000-€25,000); Lot 48, The False Morning Promise, made €26,000, just squeezing above the low estimate (€25,000-€35,000); and Lot 71, A Sidewalk of New York (watercolour) €26,000 – again, below the estimate (€30,000-€50,000).

Paintings by Sir William Orpen fared rather better: Lot 33, his Portrait of Mrs Oscar Lewisohn, formerly Miss Edna May, made €96,000, within the estimate (€80,000-€120,000); Lot 32, his Self-Portrait (1912), did even better, making €110,000, within the estimate (€100,000-€150,000); but Lot 76, Sheep and Goats, figures on a Cliff at Howth (watercolour), estimated at €40,000-€60,000, failed to sell.

Regarding Paul Henry, Lot 37, Connemara Cottages, estimated at €60,000-€80,000, failed to sell, but Lot 31, Connemara Landscape with Cottages sold for €40,000, the low end of the estimate (€40,000-€60,000).

Not for the first time, paintings by Roderic O’Conor proved hard to shift: Lot 77, Étude du nu (a reclining nude), estimated at €50,000-€70,000; and Lot 78 Etude, Femme à Contre Jour, (a portrait of a woman), estimated at €25,000-€35,000, both remained unsold.

On a brighter note, Lot 42, a large oil-on-canvas titled The Bronze Horses of Saint Mark, a 1953 painting of Venice by Patrick Hennessy sold for €32,000, comfortably above the top estimate (€15,000-€20,000).

Among a selection of watercolours by Mildred Anne Butler, Lot 64, Pot Luck – showing a crow drinking from a discarded cooking pot that was priced at £25 when was bought at the Watercolour Society of Ireland’s Annual Exhibition in 1899 – sold for €11,000 (€10,000-€15,000).

Lot 158, Feeding the Hens – A Woman and Child by a Thatched Cottage, by Frank McKelvey made €20,000 (€10,000-€15,000).

Overall, Adam’s said that 76 per cent of lots had sold.

The two big prices for art this week were achieved at Morgan O’Driscoll Auctioneers sale in Dublin on Monday, where a Paul Henry painting Evening in Achill sold for €135,000, within the estimate of €120,000-€180,000 and at Mealy’s on Wednesday where a painting by Sean Keating titled Portrait of an Aran Woman and her Children, made €130,000 – way above the estimate (€40,000-€50,000).

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