Second quarter auction sales reveal strong results

Records set for a William Scott screen print, two paintings by William Ashford and a Mainie Jellett work

It has been a strong second quarter in terms of results from Irish auction sales.

Adam’s Library sale in April — a mix of the unusual and the eclectic — saw the 17th century A View of Palermo by an artist of the circle of Gaspar van Wittel sell for €46,000, well over its €10,000 estimate.

The top lot in Adam’s Mid-century Modern sale was a diminutive oil by New Yorker Alex Katz entitled Catherine, which sold for €48,000 against an estimate of €10,000. Surprisingly, a new record for a screen print by William Scott was achieved with €17,000 for Still Life with Frying Pan and Eggs against its lower estimate of €4,000.

Adam’s Important Irish Art sale in June generated €2.4 million of sales and the top lot set a new auction record when €460,000 was paid for William Ashford’s Views of Dublin Bay from 1775. Jack B Yeats’s The Bridge Skibbereen sold for €440,000 and John Lavery’s Chiswick Baths achieved €110,000.

Adam’s Fine Jewellery and Watches saw a rare emerald and diamond Cartier ring achieve €38,000, while a Tiffany enamel and diamond bracelet sold for €30,000. What was evident from the sale is that pieces by brands such as Bulgari, Van Cleef and Arpels, Fasano and Hermes all produced strong results.

O’Reilly’s of Francis Street reports that a 3.56-carat diamond solitaire sold for €18,000 in its April sale, while a full banded diamond eternity ring achieved €14,500. A gents bimetal Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date wrist watch sold for €8,000, and a set of 10 full gold sovereign English coins, each weighing 8g, achieved €3,600.

At Whyte’s Irish and International sale in June, top lots included Jack B Yeats’s The Little Sister of the Gang, which sold to an Irish collector for €200,000, while Yeats’s The Reading Room achieved over its higher estimate, selling for €95,000. A London gallery paid €140,000 for Patrick Heron’s work Emerald with Reds and Cerulean — an indication that UK buyers pay less for goods going from Ireland to the UK, due to the VAT differential between the countries. Other strong results were Paul Henry’s A Bog Near Dingle, Co Kerry, which sold for over its higher estimate, achieving €75,000.

There were also some remarkable results in Whyte’s sale where competitive bidding saw prices soar. Kenneth Webb’s Lobster Creels sold for €4,200 against a lower estimate of €1,000, while Bringing in the Turf by Grace Henry achieved more than double its lower estimate, selling for €9,000. An ink and watercolour, Illustration for Old John, showed that the desire for smaller works by Jack B Yeats is still gaining momentum, when it sold for €16,000, more than €10,000 over its lower estimate.

Also selling for €10,000 over its lower estimate was Robert Emmet’s Proclamation at Whyte’s Eclectic Collector Sale. Described by the auction house as “probably the rarest Irish revolutionary document extant” dating from 1803, it achieved €60,000.

A letter from Countess Markievicz to Tom Clarke’s widow Kathleen sold for €29,000, while the Suspension of Offensive Order, the document that ended the Civil War, achieved €12,500. A 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, made from the type remaining on the press at Liberty Hall — as the printers did not have enough type to compose and publish the proclamation in one run, so printed the top half first — achieved €15,000, well over its €8,000 lower estimate.

De Vere’s reported strong results in its June auction totalling €1.8 million, showing strength and confidence in the Irish art market. Highlights include three works by Roderic O’Conor. Likened to a Degas, Landscape with Trees, realised €300,000, double its lower estimate. A larger landscape, The Breaking Wave, achieved €230,000, while Sea and Red Rocks realised its upper estimate, as the gavel fell at €70,000. Jack B Yeats’s A Lament (The Funeral of Harry Boland) met its lower estimate of €250,000.

Works by sculptor Anthony Scott sold well, whereby three works in the form of canines all achieved triple their lower estimates selling for €8,000, €9,000 and €9,500.

The 16 works by the late Irish-based Dutch artist and ceramist Sonja Landweer shows strong interest in owning a piece from her collection. All sold well over their higher estimates with Dialogue, a small duo of patinated bronze, achieving €15,000. In its Design sale, Gerrit Rietveld’s Zig Zag chair achieved a whopping €9,000 while DS 600 Non Stop Sofa by Ueli Berger achieved just over its upper estimate at €15,500.

Sotheby’s Ireland/France Art and Literature Sale set a new auction record for Mainie Jellett, when Pieta achieved €88,200, while Harry Kernoff’s Sunday Evening — Place du Combat was sold to the National Gallery of Ireland for €94,500, against a €40,000-€60,000 reserve. Sotheby’s sale of the contents of Monte Alverno saw William Scott’s Still Life with Orange achieve £264,600 (€307,952); a George I gilt japanned bureau sold for £151,200 (€175,972); while Giovanni Fontana’s Cupid Captured by Venus achieved £163,800 (€190,636). All Sotheby’s reported prices include buyer’s premium. Adams.ie, oreillysfineart.com, whytes.ie, deveres.ie and sothebys.com

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables