Records broken for Irish art in the ‘booming market’ of 2021


“A thriving market” is how Rory Guthrie of de Vere describes 2021, adding that “the demand for images at the top was the strongest of all”. Two sales of works of art in the past year totaled 5.75 million euros for the auction house with After the Ball, worthy of Sir William Orpen’s museum, reaching € 387,500 against its estimate of € 150.00 to € 250,000. Paul Henry is also doing well with Lakeside Cottages (€ 281,250) as well as Jack B Yeats with Little Horse at Play (€ 300,000) and The Good Gray Morning (€ 275,000), both estimated between 200,000 and 300 000 €.

It should be noted that Irish auction houses traditionally reported sales at hammer price (the price before charges of around 25% including VAT), but the biggest players in the industry now display the all-in price – as is the case internationally. – to give more clarity. It also gives readers more transparency as to what buyers actually paid for a part.

Adam’s of St Stephen’s Green conducted 23 auctions in 2021, generating € 16.38 million in its disciplines of art, period and mid-century furniture, jewelry, Asian art and vintage wine. Irish Art Bestsellers featured some of the usual suspects with Paul Henry’s Cottages in Achill for € 262,500, while The Belle of Chinatown by Jack B Yeats hit € 212,500. Two new world auction records were reached with Harry Clarke’s stained glass window, Bluebeard’s Last Wife, for € 206,250 and Composition by Evie Hone for € 57,500.

Sapphires and diamonds

The best period furniture set at Adam’s was an Irish side table (€ 42,500) from the Homan Potterton sale, while an original Proclamation from 1916 sold for € 212,500. In jewelry, which brought in 3.5 million euros, the flagship lot was a marquise diamond of 5.41 carats bought by an Irish buyer for 207,000 euros.

From the Homan Potterton collection, this Irish side table reached € 42,500 thanks to Adam’s

“What was interesting was that many of our buyers were women buying for themselves, including a 1940s Tubogas sapphire and diamond bracelet from Bulgari which sold for € 65,000. [more than six times its lower estimate]», According to Claire-Laurence Mestrallet. In its Asian section, a Guan-type porcelain vase fetched € 456,250, while the sleeper was a Hue Blue dragon porcelain plate. Listed between € 6,000 and € 8,000, it reached € 175,000 after an intense bidding war. An intricately carved Hongmu side table from the Qing Dynasty also fetched € 175,000, listed between € 4,000 and € 6,000. More surprises came from the mid-century modern section, where two auction world records were set: In May with Nathalie du Pasquier’s Blue Weight sold for € 35,000 (€ 12,000 – 16,000 €) while William McKeown’s Painting No. 325 sold for more than double its low estimate of € 10,000, reaching € 22,500.

Harry Clarke's stained glass window The Last Wife of Bluebeard set a new auction world record when it sold for € 206,250 via Adam's

Harry Clarke’s stained glass window The Last Wife of Bluebeard set a new auction world record when it sold for € 206,250 via Adam’s

Whyte’s, still on a Jack B Yeats wave after the Ernie O’Malley sale in 2019, performed well for the year, with Shouting sold for 1.74 million euros and Muldoon and Rattlesnake (€ 200,000). New records were set for Grace Henry when The Fortune Teller reached € 46,000, and Graham Knuttel, with Planet Hollywood reaching € 24,900. A Cove by Letitia Hamilton on Lake Garda also performed well at € 21,800.

“Jack B Yeats [Waiting for the Ferry, Low Tide, €168,750], Louis le Brocquy and Paul Henry [Spring in Wicklow, €187,500] are clearly the favorites and we have seen high prices for Donald Teskey, John Shinnors and Patrick Scott, ”says Ian Whyte, who also sold Irish revolutionary Kevin Barry’s latest letter, written to Kathleen Carney, for € 93,750 in the Eclectic Collector sale.

William Orpen After the Ball far exceeded his estimate, reaching € 387,500 thanks to de Vere

William Orpen After the Ball far exceeded his estimate, reaching € 387,500 thanks to de Vere

Investment purchase

Celebrating 20 years in the business, John Weldon said his June sale was the second-largest ever and that after selling over $ 100,000 worth of gold in 2021 due to “the purchase serious investments, ”he says demand is now exceeding supply. The highlight of Weldon’s year was an “Antiques Tour Moment” when a Rolex GMT Master wristwatch reached € 20,000.

It has been “an interesting but positive year” for Niall Mullen whose bestsellers were a pair of binoculars captured on a Japanese warship during WWII (€ 15,270) and a Steinway piano (with room for one. pianola) which reached 3,125 €. .

In Waterford, Keighery’s had a good year with high prices for Donald Teskey, and a set of libraries reached € 3,600. Cork-based Morgan O’Driscoll’s best sellers were Paul Henry’s Turf Stacks Connemara (€ 237,500); Image of William Shakespeare by Louis le Brocquy (€ 125,000) and Untitled 3-7-86 by Sean Scully (€ 100,000).

Are you there ?  by Rowan Gillespie reached almost double its highest estimate selling £ 107,100 through Sotheby's

Are you there ? by Rowan Gillespie reached almost double its highest estimate selling £ 107,100 through Sotheby’s

Good results at Sotheby’s this year have been Sir John Lavery’s Early Morning Tangier (£ 340,000, around € 400,000) – almost double his maximum estimate – while his portrayal of Mrs Charles Barker has also performed well at 214,200 £. Paul Henry’s West Irish landscape fetched £ 327,600 and Rowan Gillespie’s fabulous sculpture Are You There ?, reached £ 107,100, almost double its highest estimate. Bonhams also had a good year in Irish art with William Scott’s Four Pears (£ 187,750); Paul Henry’s Purple Hills (£ 106,500); Jasmin by Sir John Lavery (£ 69,000) and Au Maroc (£ 156,500). And 200 letters and postcards relating to the Civil War and Michael Collins reached £ 4,462.

deveres.ie, adams.ie, whytes.ie, niallmullenantiques.com, antiquesireland.ie, sothebys.com, bonhams.com, morganodriscoll.com, jwa.ie


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