Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

French and Belgian exhibitors dominated, but there were also participants from other European countries, New York and Tokyo. Together their range encompassed export and home market porcelain, Japanese prints, ancient bronzes, furniture, textiles and snuff bottles. It made for a well-presented, varied mix, catering to a wider range of pockets than the Biennale. The fair’s vernissage on Friday, September 20, drew a packed crowd of serious enthusiasts with over 1700 dealers and collectors thronging the aisles. It wasn’t just busy with onlookers, sales were made and some of the exhibitors had a very successful opening evening.

Among those enjoying brisk vernissage business were London snuff bottle specialist Robert Hall, who was selling to some of his many European customers, Manuel Castilho of Lisbon specialising in Oriental sculpture and Indo-Portuguese art, and Paris ceramics dealer Antoine Lebel, who sold one of his star prizes, a rare Kangxi charger decorated with a powder blue portrait of the Princess of Savoy, mother of Louis XV, for which he also had the source print.

It would have been surprising if the frantic tempo of the opening evening had been sustained throughout the entire duration of the fair and certainly things were quieter on subsequent days.

Notwithstanding, there was steady attendance, with English, Germans and Italians as well as French visitors, and by the end some 5500 people had visited and 500 catalogues had been sold.

As for sales, results were mixed: some enjoyed strong sales, others found things slower going. The former category included Brussels ceramics dealer Hugues-Jean Lamy, who had a very good fair, selling to a mix of new and old customers and Paris’ Galerie Bernard Captier. Textiles specialist Jacqueline Simcox, the other London dealer at the fair, had brought a mix of pieces as she had not been exactly sure what Parisian taste would be. She sold some of her earlier pieces and met new clients.

One of the Fair’s main difficulties, said the ASAA president, Antoine Lebel, was its location. Tucked away behind the Orangerie, it was not easy to find and it was at the other end of the Tuileries from the Biennale. “We were lucky that we had good weather,” he said. While dedicated collectors might beat a path there, passing trade was less likely. M. Lebel said that for any future stagings, a better position will be available nearer the Louvre and visible from the Rue de Rivoli. And he added that he was keen to add further categories such as jewellery and contemporary works.

A questionnaire conducted amongst the exhibitors revealed a general consensus that the fair’s specialist formula was a success, with 20 of the 22 keen to repeat another Asian salon. What form this would take in view of the Syndicat Nationale des Antiquaires’ aim to stage a broader-based multi-discipline fair at the Carrousel Du Louvre on alternate years to the main Biennale is to be the object of discussions in the near future.