Start your art collection from just €100 at Ulster Bank sale

Morgan O’Driscoll is auctioning the remaining 250 works in the collection, offering an opportunity for art lovers and collectors

Some 250 artworks from the Ulster Bank art collection will be auctioned by Morgan O’Driscoll in an online sale ending August 28th. The sale includes works by leading Irish artists including Donald Teskey, Peter Curling, William Crozier, John B Vallely and Arthur Maderson.

Funds raised through the sale will be donated to Community Foundation Ireland, a philanthropic hub with a network of 5,000 voluntary community and charitable partners across the country. Auctioneer Morgan O’Driscoll expects the sale to generate between €100,000 and €150,000.

“This significant collection will generate interest from art lovers and collectors alike, as well as supporters of the foundation across the island of Ireland,” he says.

The sale comes after Ulster Bank’s withdrawal from the Irish market, first announced in 2021, and its recent legacy gift of 78 works of art to the National Gallery of Ireland earlier this year. The period covered by the works extends from the 1950s up to the early 2000s, and the majority are by Irish artists.


“You can see from the list of artists that Ulster Bank generally bought from galleries and artists directly, rather than at auction, and it shows how they collected and supported living Irish artists all over the country,” says O’Driscoll, adding, “It is also surprising to see some older works by contemporary Irish artists.”

This is true of works by Patrick Hickey, and also of lot 4, The Garden of the Wreck by John Doherty. Painted in 1998, it is miles from the photorealism of his beloved petrol pumps and Irish vernacular architecture (€1,200-€1,800).

Of interest are two large-scale works by contemporary Irish landscape painter Donald Teskey: The Road Bends (lot 6, €6,000-€9,000) and Street with Figures (lot 18, €5,000-€7,000). Also in this price bracket, and one of the top lots in terms of estimates, is Five Musicians by John B Vallely (lot 14, €5,000-€7,500). The large-scale work is one of eight outsize works that once graced the walls of Ulster Bank offices around the country. Susan Montgomery’s We Spend Time Here, an oil and mixed media from 2001, measures almost three by two metres (lot 42, €700-€1,000), while Druid’s Resting Place, an oil on canvas by Michael Gemmell, is almost just as large (lot 28, €1,500-€2,500).

For fans of Patrick Hickey, the sale has a number of well-priced etchings and lithographs including Trees at Glencree, Co Wicklow (1974) at €200-€400, and In Glenmalure VII – Storm Watercourse, an etching (no 5 from an edition of 20) priced at €150-€250.

Sculpture is well represented, with two superb, willowy bronzes by Sandra Bell: Promise (lot 77, €600-€900) and The Offering (lot 71, €800-€1,200). Tipperary native Laurent Mellet is represented by three copper and bronzes: Ritual Union (lot 75, €1,200-€1,800); King and Queen (lot 73, €800-€1,200) and Clasping Hands (lot 72, €600-€900).

With a good number of works in the €100-€200 bracket, it’s a great place to start an art collection, and there’s something in there for everyone, as artworks span both contemporary and traditional oeuvres.

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

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