Collections of fine art, Irish art, old masters, antiques, and silver from two Irish country houses and other important private clients

Fonsie Mealy auctioneers will conduct a two day auction comprising more than 900 lots on March 7 and 8. The auction will take place at The Chatsworth Auction Rooms, Chatsworth Street, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.

The auction will include items from The Aske, Shankill, Co Dublin (formerly housed at Ballynahinch Castle, Co Galway ); Colonel Harding’s collection from Tulach Nore, Pike Of Rushall, Co Laois; two private collections of Irish art; and items from other important clients. Highlights include important old master paintings from the Murnaghan and other collections, antique and aesthetic signed furniture including good signed Irish and English pieces, good provincial and other Irish and English silver and silver plateware, jewellery and objets d’art, ceramics, glassware, bronzes, clocks, ethnographical art, musical instruments, taxidermy, carpets and rugs, and chandeliers.

For buyers wishing to acquire a piece of history with an impeccable provenance this auction provides a unique opportunity. The contents of The Aske, Shankhill, Co Wicklow, an imposing Gothic Revival house, are for sale by auction (many of which were previously housed at Ballynahinch Castle, Co Galway ). Highlights from this collection include paintings by renowned artists such as Gerrit Van Hees (lot 728 est €18,000 - €22,000 ), Theobald Michau (lot 723, €10,000 - €15,000 ), and celebrated Irish artist Frank McKelvey (lot 668 €10,000 - €15,000 ). Other items from The Aske include antique furniture, longcase clocks, silver, and porcelain.

The auction also includes the contents of Tulach Nore, Co Laois, owned by the Harding family since the mid 1800s. Items with flawless provenance and fresh to the market include a fine arts and crafts dining room suite by Gillows of Lancaster (est €7,000 - €10,000 ), which has remained in the Harding family’s possession for 100 years. Other items from Tulach Nore include a unique collection of taxidermy of 13 wild ducks and geese (est €1,250 - €1,750 ) by master taxidermist Derek Frampton (who carries out work for the Natural History Museum in London ), and an array of items including paintings, furniture, silver, and objets d’art.

Two private collections of old master paintings will pique the interest of serious Irish and International buyers. One lot, a suite of four large and impressive 17th century old master full length portraits, attributed to Justus Sustermans (1597–1681 ), is expected to achieve between €40,000 and €60,000.

There is a large selection of important modern Irish art, fresh to the market, included in the sale. Paintings by distinguished Irish artists such as Daniel O’Neill (lot 659 €6,000 – 8,000 ), 13 works by Percy French (ie, lot 648 €4,000 – €5,000 ), Jack B Yeats (lot 662 €2,000 – €3,000 ), Rose Barton (lot 669 €2,500 - €3,500 ), Graham Knuttel (lot 613 €2,000 - €3,000 ), and Markey Robinson (lot 633 €2,000 - €3,000 ). Other Irish artists whose works feature in the sale include William Conor, George Campbell, Louis Le Brocquy, and Mary Swanzy.

There is a good collection of Irish, English, and continental bronzes. Foremost among the Irish items is John Behan’s Wandering Aengus, inspired by the WB Yeats poem (132cm high ). Behan is firmly established as a sculptor of international stature and can be credited with playing a major part in the development of sculpture in Ireland over the last 50 years. Provenance: Private Irish collection, purchased directly from artist in 1991. Lot 676 est €7,000 – €9,000.

An interesting and topical piece of furniture is lot 897, 'The President’s Desk', an exact replica of the original desk presented by Queen Victoria to the President of the United States of America “ a memorial of the courtesy and loving kindness which dictated the offer of the gift of the Resolute." In 1852 HMS Resolute was part of the expedition sent in search of Sir John Franklin and was abandoned in the ice in 1854. It was discovered again in 1855 and broken up and the original desk was made from the timbers (est €1,500 – €2,000 ).

The auction features rare silver and jewellery that will attract collectors, and those looking to buy investment pieces. A rare example of Irish provincial silver is represented by a trefid spoon, probably Galway, dated 1716 by maker MM (lot 80 €3,000 - €4,000 ). Highlights from the jewellery section include an 18ct gold ring set with 10 diamonds and centred with a 2.4ct oval blue sapphire, much like the iconic engagement ring of Princess Diana (lot 109 €800 – €1,200 ), and a diamond brooch (lot 119 €1,500 - €2,000 ). There is also an unusual 15ct gold and silver chalice (lot 68 ) estimated at €3,500 - €5,000.

Speaking about the auction, George Fonsie Mealy, director of Fonsie Mealy auctioneers, said: “As always, provenance, which is important to the integrity and value of any item, comes to the fore again in this sale, with fine examples from Irish country houses, The Aske, Co Wicklow, and Tulach Nore, Co Laois, and other important private clients.”


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