Grand Tourists leave wealthy legacy just hanging around

This Spanish or south French Corpus Christi, from a collection in Dublin, recently sold for £278,500 atSotheby's auction house.

Ireland’s great houses have a habit of throwing up the odd spectacular piece, writes Des O’Sulivan.

Christopher Mason of Sotheby’s knows what he’s talking about:

“Thing do tend to crop up. That is an experience that I had personally and Sotheby’s has had over the last few decades” says the specialist.

He’s referring in particular to last year, when sculptures sourced in Ireland achieved strong results at Sotheby’s sale.

Mason will will be in Dublin next Wednesday and Thursday to appraise European sculptures and works of art.

A life-sized masterpiece of a mother and child in terracotta by 19th century French artist Aime-Jules Dalou from Westport House sold for £362,500 and went to the National Gallery in Ottowa.

A previously unrecorded marble bust of Homer by Francis Harwood from a private collection here made £242,500 and a late 12th/early 13th century Spanish/ south French Corpus Christi from a Dublin private collection, sold for £278,500 over a top estimate of £15,000.

Ireland is a country with a fantastic artistic tradition stretching way back to a time when a large number of landowners and wealthy people went to Italy as part of the Grand Tour, says Mason.

In sales of sculpture, Sotheby’s enjoyed one of its best years in a long time last year. There is, Mason says, a growing eclecticism in the taste displayed by collectors.

“Nowadays some of the most exciting collections are formed by a diverse range of objects, with everything from European bronzes to tribal art,” he says.

“People are drawn to interesting and unusual things in the market, objects of quality and age. Sculpture offers something for everyone.”

Sotheby’s are on Molesworth St, Dublin and Christopher Mason will be available by appointment.


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