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Irish & International Art Show Stirs Interest In London & New York

An auction of Irish and international art to be held in Dublin at the end of April at the Royal Dublin Society, saw preview viewings held in New York, London, Cork and Dublin early this April with 161 lots to go under the hammer - featuring works by Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Georges Braque and Joan Miro.

Morgan O’Driscoll Auctioneers, founded in 1994 holds regular salesroom and online auctions of art, antiques and collectibles at the salesroom in Skibbereen, the hub of West Cork in County Cork, as well as ‘Irish and International Art’ auctions in Dublin twice a year.

The area of West Cork, in particular the stretch of coast from Rosscarbery to Mizen Head, is popular with visitors from the rest of Ireland, Britain and Europe. And, for those interested the upcoming 2019 West Cork History Festival take places from 8-11 August.

The auction house, which was behind the viewings beyond Irish shores in Britain and most recently now the United States, has over the past five years been holding viewings in London for the international market. And, for the first time this year, New York City was a new stop on the firm’s radar, with a clutch of some thirty art works being shown at O’Sullivan Antiques at 51 East 10th Street in the Big Apple.

Among the works shipped to New York was ‘Isobel’ (Lot no. 59), an oil painting by Belfast-born romantic artist Daniel O’Neill (1920-1974), depicting a woman seen as an archetype - rather than an individual person. Her neck is elongated and the facial features reduced to a series of bold lines.

Having worked as an electrician in the Belfast shipyard, O’Neill first exhibited with Victor Waddington in 1946, and later with the Dawson Gallery during the 1960s. He moved to London in the late 1950s, finally returning to Belfast in 1969, and continued painting highly recognisable portraits of ladies and figures in landscapes.

The evocative style and intense colours used by O’Neill make for poignant and expressive pictures, and he has often been described as a romantic painter.

Helena Christensen, the Danish/Peruvian model, apparently went to the viewing in New York held between 2-3 April, and was said by auction house founder Morgan O’Driscoll to have been taken by the picture, which came from a private collection with the provenance of the Waddington’s Galleries, Montreal, Canada. The auction house’s estimate is put at between €30,000 and €50,000 (c.£25,423-£42,372/$33,707-$56,179).

That said, O'Neill’s works have gone for much higher figures going by some of the hammer prices achieved over the last fifteen or so years. For example, ‘The Red Bow Oil’ on board (69cm x 51cm (27 x 20''), signed and exhibited in New York, had been estimated by James Adam & Sons one of Ireland’s leading fine art auctioneers founded in 1887, at €50,000 to €70,000, but sold at auction for €185,000 on 25 May 2005.

By way of background, Mr O’Driscoll, who took a bachelor of science degree in valuations and estate management at the University of Greenwich in London back in 1992, after studying auctioneering and estate agency at the Dublin Institute of Technology, is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland.

He revealed that the idea of art as a career never entered his mind until a school trip to France at the age of 15 when he visited the Louvre in Paris. “That experience I found to be mind-blowing and I was totally overwhelmed, not just by the beauty, but the power of the things that we saw,” O’Driscoll remarked.

With the Cork-based auctioneer’s main area of interest being contemporary and modern painting as well as sculpture, he added: “While it is one thing to be able to appreciate and recognise the value of a piece of art, it is quite another matter to know the best way to market it.”

The upcoming auction has works of art with estimates ranging from €500 right up to between €150,000-€250,000 (Lot no. 52 – Evening In Achill, a painting of the Connemara area from the 1930’s by Paul Henry RHA (1876-1958), with the 161 lots being provided by around ninety vendors.

Wandering around the gallery at the Royal Opera Arcade in London’s Pall Mall near the Canadian Embassy, I found ‘Peach and Concorde Pears’ (oil on linen - lot 19) by Russian painter Alex Krasnovsky (1945-2016) appealing, with an estimate of €800-€1,200 (c.£677-£1,016).

My eye was caught too by ‘Hulk of a Wooden Boat at Clontarf’ (1899) by Richard Thomas Moynan RHA, which depicted a derelict boat – probably a yacht or lugger - with the Dublin mountains shown in the background. Estimate €8,000-€12,000 (c.£6,779-£10,169).

Another work that should garner interest included lot 115 (estimate €6,000-€9,000 (c.£5,084-£7,627)), a signed offset lithograph printed in colours of Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung (Announcement) by Andy Warhol from 1972 - ala his Campbell Soup and mass media images of Marilyn Monroe. On card with text printed on reverse, it was published by Multiples, and Castelli Graphics, New York, as an announcement for a portfolio of silkscreens.

Add to that a signed crayon and ink drawing on paper ‘Untitled’ (lot 89, from 1963) by Spanish artist Joan Miro, with an estimate of €10,000-€15,000 (c.£8,474-£12,711), and a couple of limited numbered art works by Francis Bacon (lots 63 and 79), both with estimated between €10,000 and €15,000 (c.£8,474-£12,711). A real steal could prove to be

For the catalogue of this auction, which takes place on 29 April 2019 at 6.00pm at the Royal Dublin Society, Minerva Suite, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, see: https://www.morganodriscoll.com/.

by Roger Aitken

About the author: Roger is a freelance writer who has contributed to a number of titles over the years including the Financial Times and worked as a Forbes contributor. In 2014 he was awarded a press prize from Czech Tourism on the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and won a State Street Institutional press prize.

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