Sensible estimates coupled with lots of good -quality material were the key to success at Ross’s (12.5% buyer’s premium) in Belfast on March 5. The 252-lot catalogue, from which 90 per cent of pictures were sold by value, taking a hammer total of £350,000, had something to suit all pockets and auctioneer Daniel Clarke felt it to be the sort of sale in which it would have been “impossible not to have found something you like”.
On the whole, it is private buyers who flock to these quarterly fine Irish picture sales and they reserved the best of their money for this William Conor RHA RUA (1881-1968) wax crayon on paper work, right, entitled The Mill Girls.
Conor is synonymous with depictions of early 20th century working class life in Belfast and this signed 20 x 14in (51 x 36cm) image had everything Conor buyers would look for in his work.
Sourced privately from the Belfast widow of a gentleman who had bought the picture direct from Conor, The Mill Girls bore an estimate of
£17,500-20,000 and was knocked down to a Northern Irish private buyer at £22,000.
This success was followed up by Dan O’Neil’s (1920-1974) The Bath – a 20 by 16in (51 x 41cm) signed oil on board estimated at £22,000-25,000.
“It wasn’t the best example of O’Neil’s work I’ve seen and I think that was reflected in the price,” said Mr Clarke. The picture fell to a private buyer with a bid of £17,500.
Other notable prices were the £8700 taken for Fair Day by Jack Butler Yeats RHA (1871-1957) and Tom Carr’s (1909-1999) Coming to shore, Ballymoran, Strangford which brought £7200.
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