The Blessington commode was bought by the National Museum of Ireland shortly before it was scheduled to appear for sale at Adam’s.

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Six works by artist Paul Henry generated over €500,000 on their own while the highest price of the year was shared by several lots, including a portrait by Sir William Orpen depicting Yvonne Aupicq as a nun which surpassed a €30,000-50,000 estimate and was knocked down at €125,000 (£110,898) in March.

Adam’s sold €2.9m worth of jewellery across the calendar year with the top-seller being an Art Deco diamond bracelet at €95,000 (£82,610). It was designed by Erwin Lang, made by Austrian imperial jeweller Köchert and later re-modelled as a tiara by Bulgari.

Another of the highlights of the year was the private-treaty sale prior to the auction at Townley Hall in October of the Blessington commode to the National Museum of Ireland. Attributed to the Dublin cabinet-maker John Kirkhoffer, it had been estimated at €100,000-150,000 although the price paid by the museum was undisclosed.

The saleroom said: “While there has been some continued softening in the market in some categories, fresh-to-the-market, high-quality items in all disciplines have been and will continue to be most sought after by collectors. For these items top prices will be paid, but for everyday, middle-of-the road items, whether furniture or any other collectable, it will continue to be a buyer’s market for the foreseeable future.”

Effects of Brexit

Meanwhile, Dublin saleroom Whyte’s reported total sales of just under €6m (£5.22m) for 2023, with an average sell-through rate of 85%. Ian Whyte told ATG that consignments were lower than 2022 and pointed to fewer pictures being sent to Ireland after Brexit due to the 13.5% import VAT.

“With the combination of VAT and much higher buyers’ charges – including the artists’ resale levy (charged to buyers in the UK and to the seller in Ireland) – a picture bought in a UK auction for £1000 could end up costing €1700 plus another €200 for shipping and customs entry”, he said.

Whyte’s highest price of the year came for a 1950 oil on canvas by Jack Yeats, Glory to the Brave Singer, that fetched €290,000 (£251,360).

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