Monday 19 March 2018

Judgment day arrives for barrister's art collection

Ralph Riegel

AN Irish barrister's lifelong love affair with art collecting has sparked one of the most eagerly anticipated art auctions of recent years.

The late Jim O'Driscoll spent more than 40 years collecting art -- and it became such a passion that he often purchased works directly from the artists.

Many of Ireland's leading artists of the late 20th Century became his personal friends, and his support was also crucial for many emerging artists.


Jim, who died last year, eventually left a collection of 500 works, including a portrait of himself.

Some 250 works are being retained by members of the O'Driscoll family but 250 pieces are now being auctioned off by Dublin gallery, Whyte's.

A total of 80 works -- including some of the most valuable -- form the core of the auction.

A proud Cork native, Jim O'Driscoll's works often reflected his love of the Rebel County -- either through supporting Cork-based artists or works with a southern-theme.

Whyte's, which is handling the auction on May 31, said the collection represents one of the most important of its kind to be auctioned in Ireland in modern times, a testament to the senior counsel's shrewd taste in art.

"He was a staunch supporter of avant-garde Irish art and his sizeable collection reflects not only a gifted and discerning eye for quality but it traces the developing trends in Irish art through a very personal journey," Ian Whyte said.

O'Driscoll acquired one of the most impressive private collections of modern, avant-garde Irish art but was also a staunch supporter of Irish galleries, including the Crawford and Fenton galleries in Cork.

His private collection features works by Tony O'Malley, Brian Bourke, Patrick Scott, Louis le Brocquy, William Crozier, John Shinnors, Charles Tyrrell, Gerard Dillon and Nano Reid. He also collected impressive sculptures from artists including Brian King and Conor Fallon.

Amongst the prized works for auction is Dillon's 'Magic in the Sky' which is expected to fetch €30,000, O'Malley's 'Spectral Garden' which is expected to make €35,000 and Crozier's 'Dark Barn' which is similarly valued at €30,000.

The auction will take place in the Clyde Rooms in the RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin, at 6pm on May 31. Viewing at the RDS is available from May 29-30. Further details from

Irish Independent

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