Recent sales at Irish auctions and indeed international auctions with Irish connections, realised some strong results. It was a particularly good week for works by Louis le Brocquy and Rowan Gillespie, with a few surprises from collectable curiosities.
Adam's Important Irish Art Sale on St Stephen's Green on June 12th realised in excess of €1 million, with 75 per cent of lots sold. Top of the bill was Cottages on a Landscape, by Paul Henry which sold for €115,000, well over the estimate of €60,000-€80,000, in a battle between six bidders.
Seán Keating’s expansive work Homeward Bound achieved €76,000 (€60,000-€80,000) and Louis le Brocquy’s Cúchulainn VIII, a 1999 Aubusson wool tapestry, achieved €70,000, more than double its lower estimate of €30,000.
“While pieces from the 18th century to contemporary works sold well across the board, the sale demonstrates that buyers are interested not only in quality, but also in works that have not been seen in the main in recent years,” said James O’Halloran of Adam’s.
De Vere’s in Dublin also had strong results at its Irish Art and Sculpture Auction on June 11th.
The sale grossed €800,000 with 75 per cent of lots sold. The top selling works were Louis le Brocquy's Allegory tapestry which attained €92,000 (€60,000-€90,000) and Rowan Gillespie's sculpture, Portrait of a Dreamer, his homage to John Lennon, achieved €62,500 (€40,000-€60,000).
Although Patrick O'Reilly's sculpture American GI with a Donkey, which stood outside the Merrion Hotel bringing traffic to a standstill, it failed to sell.
"It was a really strong sale overall and a great week for le Brocquy too, his Tinker Picking Whitethorn achieved €42,000," said Rory Guthrie of de Vere's.
In London, Gillespie also created a stir at Bonham’s Modern British and Irish Art Sale on June 12th, where his Looking at the Moon sculpture sold for £56,312 (€63,000), well over the estimate of £20,000-£30,000.
Mullen’s Classic and Contemporary Sale at Laurel Park, Bray had two surprises: the sale of a 19th-century Tunbridge Ware sewing case in the form of a grand piano, for €2,400, multiples over its pre-auction estimate of €200-€300, and a pair of 19th-century cases of coloured shells which also achieved €2,400 (€200-€300).
Another strong result was an Irish Georgian mahogany silver table at €1,500 (€300-€500) of which Joe Mullen said, "It's restoring our faith in brown furniture, and shows how the internet, and online bidding is allowing Ireland to compete on international auction platforms".
Meanwhile, at a sale at RJ Keighery in Waterford on June 10th, an antique Fry’s Chocolate enamel sign measuring just 45cm by 30cm achieved €1,500, five times its lower estimate of €300.
Though not Irish, but a kindred spirit to many of us, letters at the late Leonard Cohen auction Write me and Tell me your Heart Sale by Christie's in New York, saw 100 per cent sold, totalling $876,000 (€782,000).
Cohen acknowledged that his love of WB Yeats, a result of being raised by an Irish nanny, inspired much of this work. The tiny Italian bronze bell owned by the Canadian singer, who admitted to weeping at the heartfelt reception he received by Irish audiences, achieved a whopping $81,250 ($8,000-$10,000).