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 restoration.
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.