A collection of 17th and 18th-century marble busts are among part-contents from Drumleck House, Howth — home of notable collectors John and Gertrude Hunt — at the Sheppard's Dublin and Provincial sale in Durrow, Co Laois, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. (December 5, 6 and 7). The Hunts lived at Drumleck for over 30 years from the 1950s. Most of their collection was donated to the State and is now at the Hunt Museum in Limerick.
Weathered outdoor busts of Julius Caesar wearing laurel leaves and Cleopatra with an asp, from the garden at Drumleck, are among the highlights. They are estimated at €2,000-€3,000.
The garden was decorated with ornaments and statuary from demolished properties of the Anglo-Irish Ascendency, including a statue of Neptune from Ballinagarde House in Co Limerick.
This now-lost statue was acquired by a member of the Croker family on his Grand Tour. John Hunt liked to claim it came from the workshop of Bernini in Rome. The statue has never been identified and informed collectors are still on the lookout for the lost Bernini.
A Regency library table from the Merrion Square home of Sybil Connolly (€1,500-€2,500) and a collection of Regency furniture from the Ardsallagh Estate in Co Tipperary are features of the auction.
So is a re-discovered portrait of a lady identified as Jessica Wertheimer painted in 1904 by William Orpen. Charles Wertheimer was Orpen's leading patron and a portrait of him by Orpen was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1904. Portraits of Wertheimer and his one-time companion Sarah Hammond by John Everett Millais are now in the Musee d'Orsay. The Orpen at Sheppards, from the Macroom collection of Dr. Kevin Moynihan, is estimated at €30,000-€50,000.
Among the lots of architectural salvage are the original double entrance doors to Bewley's Cafe on Grafton Street in Dublin. This iconic cafe, extensively modified in the 1990s, had originally been built to designs by Millar & Symes in 1927 with an extravagant Egyptian Revival facade. The doors are estimated at €3,000-€5,000.
A rare Belleek carnation (€500-€800) is a collector's item too. It is believed to be one of only two in existence. The other is at the National Museum in Dublin. The sale features Meissen parrots, silver pheasants, Irish sculpture and art, 17th and 18th-century Dutch art and furniture from the 18th to the 20th century including a large mid-century Italian cabinet by Smania.
More than 1,200 lots will come under the hammer. Viewing gets underway today in Durrow.