Runaway bids as 18th century box from Castletown Cox sells for €36,000
One of the first photographs of the moon taken in 1863 goes for €5,600
Lot 268, an 18th century German table box. It sold for €36,000
While auction catalogues can make fine bedtime reading, the highly-charged atmosphere through the online audio link of Fonsie Mealy’s sale in Birr on Tuesday was palpable.
The sale included the contents of a fine Georgian house, 11 Oxmantown Mall in Birr, Co Offaly, along with items from “various private clients and estates” – in other words a mixed sale of over 500 lots, including antiques, collectors’ items and eclectic offerings from Victorian dentists chairs and cabinets to one of the first photographs of the moon taken in 1863.
The sleeper of the sale was lot 268, an 18th century German Augsburg marquetry table box. Measuring 19in by 11in, its provenance from the Palladian pile Castletown Cox in Carrick-On-Suir, Co Tipperary, drew bidders from around the world, with a woman in the auction room battling it out against an online bidder in Mexico.
The hammer fell at €36,000 (with the buyer’s premium, VAT and online bidder commission adding a further 27 per cent to the price) and the piece, decorated with inlaid landscape panels, which had an estimate of €1,500-€2,000, is now en route to Mexico.
After the gavel fell, and the sale was attributed to the Mexican bidder, all that could be heard from the audio link was the hushed but exhausted murmur from one auctioneer to another: “I think we need a break.”
A further surprise was lot 380, a large Majolica urn described as of “exhibition quality”. It was the subject of a bidding war between an online buyer from the US and a woman in the room. The 19th century urn is destined for the US after the gavel fell for the American buyer at €16,000. It had an original estimate of €1,000-€1,500.
Further lots selling for well over their estimates were lot 365, a 19th century mahogany four-poster bed “with sheets and all” which sold for €6,000 (€1,500-€1,600), and lot 503, another four-poster bed which achieved more than 10 times its lower estimate of €600-€800 when selling for €7,000.
A pair of wall-mounted 19th century Baccarat crystal sconces achieved €2,400 (lot 239, €1,500-€2,000), and lot 256, a pair of Chinese Chippendale-style chairs with an estimate of €500-€700, sold for €1,400.
The lunar photograph from 1863 by Henry Draper sold for €5,600 (lot 304, €7,000-€11,000), and Sir Frederick William Burton’s A Lady and her Child achieved €5,600 (€5,000-€7,000).
Elsewhere in the auction rooms on Monday, Whyte’s Irish and international art sale in the RDS grossed over €1.25 million, with almost 90 per cent sold.
Bull, a bronze sculpture by Anthony Scott, sold for €9,000, three times its lower estimate of €3,000-€5,000. James Humbert Craig’s Flax Growing Northern Ireland, an oil painted for the Empire Marketing Board to promote the linen industry in 1927, achieved €54,000, well above its estimate of €20,000-€30,000.
Making its first appearance at an auction was Justice by Jack B Yeats, which achieved €150,000 (€100,000-€150,000). Study for a Family by Louis le Brocquy sold for €49,000, just shy of it lower estimate of €50,000.
Recent sales of Irish art in London were The Bridge by Stanhope Alexander Forbes, which sold through Bonhams for €108,559, and Head of a Boy,a much-publicised portrait of the late Guinness heir Garech Browne, which sold through Sotheby’s for €6,692,215.
Also sold through Sotheby’s was Sean Scully’s stacked horizon painting Landline Red Blue, with the hammer dropping at €932,330. (Sale prices for Bonhams and Sotheby’s include the buyer’s premium).