Contents of former home of Napoleon’s doctor to go under the hammer in Laois

Express Reporter

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International hype is already surrounding the upcoming contents auction of Lissaniskey House in North Tipperary later this month, the former home of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Irish physician.

The auction, which takes place in Sheppard’s Auction House in Durrow next week, will be open to bidders from 40 countries worldwide and includes the contents of the 18th century Lissaniskey House along with specially selected lots from other important Sheppard clients.

The collection of period furniture, artwork, porcelain and garden furniture has been described as an “exceptional collection” by Philip Sheppard of Sheppard’s Auction House, who are overseeing the contents sale of the Nenagh property.

A Ming Vase, which carries a guide price of €20,000 - €30,000 has already attracted a number of inquiries from international buyers which Mr Sheppard says is one of the lots “to watch.”

“It could do anything. It could be an auction house moment,” he says in reference to last year’s bidding war over a Chinese vase which was sold by Sheppard’s for €740,000, making it the most expensive art object ever sold at a public auction in Ireland.

Also among the lots on offer is a painting by the Carlow born artist Frank O’Meara whose grandfather Dr. Barry O’Meara worked as Napoleon Bonaparte’s Irish physician. The oil on canvas painting signed by O’Meara, dating from 1882, is expected to attract significant interest on auction day with a guide price set between €3,000 and €5,000.

Works by the impressionist painter have previously sold for over ten times their estimate including his most famous painting, Reverie, which sold for £496,500 at a Christie’s auction is 1999.

“We are delighted to have one of Frank O’Meara’s paintings included in the sale. He was one of Ireland’s first impressionist painters and only completed three or four a year so it’s quite a rare piece.

“It has come full circle in that the painting is going on sale with the contents of his grandfather’s ancestral home,” said Mr Sheppard adding that some pieces included in the auction were originally purchased from Sheppard’s some 50 years earlier.

“There are very good pieces of furniture and porcelain, all the things you expect to see in an Irish country house,” he said.

The auction is also sure to attract the eyes of the art world with a number of much sought after pieces coming on sale including an oil on canvas piece by French painter Stanislas Lepine which carries a reserve of €10,000 - €12,000, ‘The shooting party’ by French artist Jules Girardet which carries a reserve of between €9,000 - €12,000 and a piece by French modern impressionist painter Francois Gall which has a reserve of €5000 - €7,000.

The property, built circa 1770, was once owned by a branch of the Pepper family in the 19th century and was occupied by Simon Pepper in 1814 and by R. Smithwick in 1837. It was later occupied by Theobald Pepper and Brothers in the early 1850s.

Dr. Barry O’Meara is believed to have resided at the house sometime in the late 1790’s to 1810 prior to entering the Navy as an medical officer, according to Mr Sheppard.

He was the senior surgeon on the HMS Bellerophon when Napoleon surrendered at La Rochelle in July 1815.

The property was subsequently purchased by the Sheehan family in the 1970’s.

A full list of contents is available in a digital catalogue from www.sheppards.ie

A preview of the contents sale will take place from Saturday 12 May to Monday 14 May from 10am to 5pm. The auction will take place over two days from May 15-16 in Durrow, Co. Laois from 10am each day.

To contact Sheppard’s Irish Auction House call 057 8740000 or email info@sheppards.ie