There was a positive air as the third ‘Masterpiece London’ fair closed after a week’s run in its lavish purpose-built pavilion at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
Final sales reports had not yet come
through but on the penultimate day on July 3, while things were
still a bit flat for some dealers, it seemed that the presentation
and glamour were translating into more substantial sales for a good
number of exhibitors.
Despite the widely criticised marketing,
Masterpiece is starting to establish more of an
identity and this year was certainly more international in terms of
exhibitors and visitors.
This international crowd joined homegrown
collectors, curators and affluent Londoners, some of them the
younger sort who would not normally visit an antiques fair but are
attracted by the spectacle and the Caprice Holdings bars and
restaurants which help make it more of a destination.
One of the 160-odd exhibitors was Fulham
Road dealer Godson & Coles, who used
Masterpiece to announce their sale of a pair of hall
benches, designed by Robert Adam (1728-92) for Kenwood House
c.1773, back to the nation.
The carved and white-painted benches were
bought by English Heritage for an undisclosed sum, thanks to
funding from the Iveagh Bequest and The Art Fund, and will be on
display in their original setting at Kenwood House, on Hampstead
Heath in London, when it reopens this autumn after extensive
Although there are no known drawings by
Adams for these benches, he is known to have specified low white
carved benches for the Kenwood hall and the detailing is
stylistically consistent with the rest of Adams' furniture scheme
for the hall, executed by Sefferin Nelson.
They can also be seen in a Country
Life photograph of Kenwood House taken in 1919.
A full report of the Masterpiece fair will appear
in next week's ATG printed newspaper.