‘A fish out of water’ simply ‘swimming in the wrong pond’ – the Homan Potterton collection

On September 7, Adam’s in Dublin will offer the collection of art historian Homan Potterton (1946-2020), the former the director of the National Gallery of Ireland.

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Victorian saltglazed jugs – estimated at €400-600 at Adam's in Dublin

An assistant keeper at the National Gallery in London from 1973-1980, Potterton became head of the National Gallery of Ireland in 1980 at the youthful age of just 36. He wrote the first concise catalogue of the collection (1981) and a definitive catalogue of the gallery’s Dutch paintings while overseeing the acquisition of 20th century works by Kees van Dongen, Chaim Soutine, Emil Nolde and Paul Signac.

In 2001 he enjoyed literary success with a childhood memoir, Rathcormick, recalling his life in rural Ireland before he discovered European travel in his late teens. He wrote that as a child he always felt “like a fish out of water”, but a revelatory summer in France led him to conclude he had “merely been swimming in the wrong pond”. 

The sale Homan Potterton – A Lifetime of Collecting features just under 250 lots across a number of collecting and furnishing disciplines from paintings to antiques and home furnishings. Estimated prices at Adam's range from under €100 for prints and engravings to €40,000-60,000 for an Irish marble-topped walnut side table c.1740

Pictured here are a selection of highlights. 

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Dun Emer Guild carpet – estimated at €1500-2500 at Adam's in Dublin

This 3.01 x 2.51m wool carpet with central Celtic medallion by the Dun Emer Guild is guided at €1500-2500. 

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Red chalk drawing by Sir William Orpen – estimated at €4000-6000 at Adam's in Dublin

Figures in red chalk by Sir William Orpen (1878-1931), 23 x 17cm, with a provenance to an Orpen exhibition at the Neptune Gallery, Dublin in 1971. Estimate €4000-6000.

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Watercolour by Lucius Gahagan – estimated at €1000-1500 at Adam's in Dublin.

The sale includes a number of works by the Irish artist Lucius Gahagan (1773-1855) including this watercolour of the statue of Peter the Great at St Petersburg signed and dated 1817, 26 x 37cm. Estimate €1000-1500.

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Landscape by Derek Hill (1916-2000) – estimated at €1500-2500 at Adam's in Dublin

The English portrait and landscape painter Derek Hill (1916-2000) was long resident in Ireland. This oil titled Small Lake near Lough Salt, Donegal dated 1969, 25 x 25cm has a provenance to the collection of the artist. Estimate €1500-2500.

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Victorian saltglazed jugs – estimated at €400-600 at Adam's in Dublin

This pair of mid 19th century salt glazed jugs with bas relief bacchanalian scenes, 19cm high, are estimated at €400-600. 

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Irish silver sugar bowl – estimated at €600-800 at Adam's in Dublin

This Irish silver sugar bowl with repousse, chased and engraved animal and bird decoration has marks for Charles Townsend of Dublin c.1780. Estimate €600-800.

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'Connemara landscape' by Charles Lamb – estimated at €4000-6000 at Adam's in Dublin

A Summer Day in Connemara, an oil on panel by Irish landscape and portrait painter Charles Lamb (1893-1944), 29 x 39cm. Estimate €4000-6000.


Tags: Fine Art
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