Despite concerns about the fall of the pound, exhibitors remain optimistic. Agreeing that the best pieces will always be in demand, dealers used creative stand design to showcase a variety of their best pieces.
Adrian Sassoon, specialist in porcelain and ceramics, won this year’s outstanding display award thanks to the ‘imaginative placement and use of windows’. Displaying both 18th century Sèvre and Continental porcelain as well as modern and contemporary pieces, Sassoon told ATG before the fair: “My work is to make sure that people who know about 18th century works of art are aware of the exciting things going on today. That’s the magic of Masterpiece as it allows and values that crossover”.
With a number of visitors stopping and looking raptly at the museum-like display, his plan seems likely to pay off.
Modernity’s (Stockholm) Danish Neo-Egyptian longcase clock received plenty of attention from before it even arrived in London for the fair. It wasn't a surprise that it took one of Masterpiece’s object awards and was the first object sold off their stand on Wednesday night. The first-time exhibitor’s corner stand continued to attract visitors with a range of Scandinavian design.
One week on from Britain’s vote to leave the EU, the issue is still on many lips. Throughout Masterpiece so far, small knots of people were seen standing together talking about where they were when it happened, their shock and comparing opinions of Boris Johnson et al. For exhibitors there were immediate, practical implications, chief among them: how to deal with the erratic pound?
Dickinson, who have galleries in New York and London, have advertised each work in the currency of its consignor. This is different from, for example, Stephen Ongpin, who have provided prices in sterling only.
With a stand spanning Old Masters, modern and contemporary art, Dickinson offer a wide view of the history of art. They stress the importance of transparency, and every piece on the stand is clearly priced – including one of their standout works, an Anthony van Dyck Madonna and Child at £1.2m.
Peter Finer is stationed between the two long strips that comprise Scott’s Seafood & Champagne Bar. With him are two suits of armour. One of them (an award winner – though he points out with a twinkle that the category of arms and armour is fairly small at Masterpiece) has sold already for a seven-figure sum. He’s keeping a weather eye on this example of south German Stechzeug armour, c1490-5, pictured here. Good use of minimal space and a high sales rate early in the fair make this a top stand.
Masterpiece London is not shy about its status as a luxury event – stand B13 is filled by a yacht brought by Ventura UK – so Jonathan Cooper’s decision to fill their stand with large statement pieces is an informed decision. And one that has got the gallery off to a good start. By Thursday they had sold five of their pieces, including the two flower paintings by Rosie Sanders pictured here which sold to the same buyer yesterday.
It’s not the largest space, but there’s a lot to see at Shapero’s stand, especially for those with a vested interest in London and its geography. The focus of their exhibition this year is the changing face of the West End, featuring works by Jason Hawkes, Dieter Roth and map-maker Stephen Walter. Shapero and TAG Fine Arts commissioned Walter’s highly annotated large-scale map of Mayfair and St James (pictured here) to be shown alongside historical works such as Charles Booth’s Maps Descriptive of London Poverty.
Masterpiece is the favourite fair for Peter Petrou, specialists in works of art and design. They’ve made a number of early sales. Particularly popular are their 19th century didactic botanical models, which they organise with a stand designed in-house.
Steinitz’s (Paris) stand features panelling taken from an interior, the wall decoration that has become their fair signature. Masterpiece’s top award-winning piece of furniture is also on their stand, a Louis XV Vernis Martin commode stamped by Jaques Dubois. Large contemporary prints hung against the green panelling compliment the selection of antique furniture. The Sotheby’s Paris sale of Bernard Steinitz took place last night also, with a hammer total of €4.1m.
Many galleries opt for a stand design that reflects that of their home showroom. Cool walls and clean lines mark out Dutko Gallery’s large stand, which features an assortment of 20th century and contemporary design. It would be possible to step out of one of their permanent galleries and into their Masterpiece stand without knowing the difference.
Based in Paris, Galerie Dutko have a growing London presence with a showroom that opened on Davies St late last year. That means this year they have two simultaneous London exhibitions, with one at their gallery (Encounters: Japanese Art) running to early August. With London Art Week going on at the same time as Masterpiece this year, many exhibitors are doing the same, including Agnew’s, Ariadne Galleries and Martyn Gregory.
Burzio of London named Masterpiece their surest fair for making key sales yesterday, despite not having made a sale at the time. They rank it above TEFAF as an event sure to pay back dividends over the cost of the stand. They say a large stand isn’t needed as long as it shows top, museum-quality objects to good effect.
Among the pieces on their stand this year are the Marcello Papiniano Cusani silver and ormolu mounted chandeliers, made in Palermo in 1758. It has some similarities to one of the top selling chandeliers of all time, the Givenchy royal Hanover chandelier, another 18th century silver piece, which went for £5.75m at Christie’s in 2011. Burzio remain optimistic for Masterpiece and look forward to their next appearance at TEFAF New York, too.