SOUTH KENSINGTON - Christie's announced the sale of The Vincent Ferguson Collection on Friday 8th May 2009. Vincent Ferguson (1932 - 2007) was both a successful businessman and an art collector with the eye of a true connoisseur; he was held in the highest regard by Irish institutions and the artists themselves, with whom he was close friends. Ferguson had an unquenchable passion and belief in the importance and creativity of 20th century and contemporary Irish artists and the beauty of their works. He is remembered with great fondness by all who knew him personally and regarded as inspirational by all that knew of him. The paintings and sculptures featured in Christie’s auction occupied a special place in Ferguson’s heart; they were living, breathing parts of his Sligo family home, which brought joy to each day. Comprising over 140 lots, this very personal collection provides a celebration of Irish artists including Basil Blackshaw, H.R.H.A. (b.1932), Rowan Gillespie (b.1953), Terence P. Flanagan, R.H.A., R.U.A. (b. 1929), Charlie Brady, H.R.H.A. (1926-1997) and Brian Maguire (b. 1951) and many others With estimates ranging from Ł800 to Ł80,000, highlights include Basil Blackshaw’s Man and Dog, date, (estimate: Ł60,000-80,000) and Blackshaw’s important Traveller Series (each with an estimate of Ł20,000 to Ł30,000).
Bernard Williams, International Director of Irish Art at Christie’s: “Christie’s are privileged to have been entrusted with the sale of Vincent Ferguson’s stellar collection. The quality of the art works, individually and as a group, is a testament to the importance of buying with the heart. This auction provides the opportunity for both established and new collectors to acquire 20th century and contemporary Irish art treasures, both big and small, which come fresh to the market for the first time in many years and in some cases for the first time ever. Vincent was close friends with the artists whose work he collected and supported, and many of the works trace the evolution of Irish art during the period.”
The former director of Atlantic Resources Ltd and Fitzwilton plc, Vincent Ferguson went on to be director of Independent News and Media plc. and upon his retirement returned with his wife, Noeleen, to their beloved Sligo to continue their passion: collecting art. The Ferguson’s generously shared the joy of their art collection, donating 35 works by artists such as Basil Blackshaw, Michael Mulcahy, Barrie Cooke and Patrick Hall, all of whom are represented in the sale on 8th May, to the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1997. The donated works subsequently featured in exhibitions at IMMA and throughout Ireland as part of the Museum’s National Programme. Four further works were donated to IMMA by the family in Vincent’s memory, in 2008.
14 paintings by the distinguished Irish artist Basil Blackshaw are amongst the highlights from Vincent Ferguson’s collection to be offered at Christie’s. Born in Glengormley, Co Antrim, Blackshaw studied at Belfast College of Art and was awarded a scholarship by the Committee for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA) in 1951 to study in Paris. Subsequently, he has exhibited in Ireland, America and Paris and was elected as an associate of the Royal Ulster Academy of the Arts in 1977, and elected an Academician in 1981.
Celebrated initially for his sophisticated traditional style, Blackshaw is now most highly regarded for his loose, gestural works, which are often figurative and explore Irish themes such as travellers and rural landscapes. Ferguson surrounded himself with Blackshaw’s works. He hung Dodie’s Garden (estimate: Ł40,000-60,000) by his favourite chair, at his home ‘Cois na Sidhe’ in Rosse’s Point, Sligo; the Traveller Series alongside family photographs and the piano, and Blackshaw’s Man and Dog (estimate:Ł60,000-80,000). The other works by Blackshaw include Nude before a window, day (estimate: Ł50,000-80,000); Nude before a window, night (estimate: Ł50,000-80,000); Taz (the Fergusons’ dog) (estimate: Ł6,000-8,000); Cherry Blossom (estimate: Ł15,000-20,000); Yellow Birds (estimate: Ł20,000-30,000); The Little House I (estimate: Ł3,000-5,000) and The Little House II (estimate: Ł3,000-5,000).
Terence P. Flanagan is represented by seven works, led by an evocative watercolour, Castle Coole (estimate: Ł18,000-25,000), which hung in the dining room at Sligo and Ben Bulben (estimate Ł10,000 - 15,000).The other five Flanagan works are understated, yet arresting landscapes in watercolour. Brian Maguire’s painting The Kid's Okay (estimate: Ł10,000-15,000), and Enzo Plazzotta’s kneeling nude bronze (estimate: Ł6,000-8,000), are nestled amongst other family treasures indoors. Outside, in the garden of Sligo, Nicola Godden’s sculptures, which are offered for sale, were positioned fluidly around the garden. Further key works featured include four sculptures by Rowan Gillespie led by a bronze of W.B Yeats, 1986 (estimate: Ł8,000-12,000) and six oils by Charlie Brady, including The Sandwich (estimate: Ł6,000-8,000).