Rare portrait of James Butler hammers out €120k at auction

Portrait of James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde - €120,000

A life-sized portrait of James Butler, first Duke of Ormonde (1610-1688) sold for a hammer price of €120,000 yesterday.

Billed as by Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680) and the studio of Sir Peter Lely, it was one of a number of rare works which drew serious collectors and bargain hunters galore to Mealy’s sale of contents of Lotabeg on Lower Glanmire Rd in Cork City, a house largely undisturbed since 1939.

The buzz about the sale, which generated enormous local, national and international interest, was described by Mealy’s as unbelievable. “The phone has not stopped ringing and the inbox is flooded with inquiries,” George Mealy Jnr said.

Not all lots on offer were from Lotabeg.

The auction got off to a competitive start when a rare and unusual interior watercolor of the Queen’s Old Castle department store in Cork, at the height of the Famine in 1848 by Robert Lowe Stopford (1813-1898), was finally knocked down to a bidder in the room for €2,600 on the hammer. This unique picture rightly belongs in Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery.

Lot 12, a collection of 16 Oriental items including candlesticks, bowls, and censors estimated at €100 to €200, made €4,000. In the same vein, a carved wooden ceremonial urn and cover made a surprising €11,000. It had an estimate of just €250 to €350.

A pair of paintings by the Flemish painter David de Coninck (c1642/44-c1701) made €39,000 at hammer. A painting by James Lynwood Palmer (1865-1941) of Ard Patrick and Galtee More with foal frolicking made €20,000.

Unusual lots included a large 19th century bird cage automaton which made €4,000 and the dress uniform of Captain John C Hart sold for €2,000 over an estimate of €500 to €800. The Star of India awarded to a Lotabeg owner Vincent Hart, who died in 1939, sold for €2,200 over a top estimate of €1,800.

An Irish William IV circular mahogany dining table sold for a hammer price of €26,000. An 18th century Irish provincial long case clock by William Hadlock of Waterford sold for €12,000.


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