Saving winter Olympia
The summer staging of Olympia was a little different this year: one of four ‘lifestyle’ shows that comprised Clarion Event’s House & Garden Festival.
Preceding the fair was the news that the Winter Art & Antiques Fair Olympia– shelved after last year’s edition on the grounds that it was no longer financially viable – could be run in a revised format given sufficient dealer commitment. Clarion proposed to hold the fair around the gallery level of the National Hall above the concurrent Spirit of Christmas Fair. More than 50 dealers said ‘yes’ and the October/November fair was saved.
The diagnosis for the venerable Works on Paper Fair was less encouraging. Rising costs and an absence of specialist exhibitors – what dealers dubbed “a contracting market” – meant the fair bowed out after more than 30 years.
But any perceived gap in the calendar is quickly filled. Shortly afterwards, a new exhibitor-led art event was announced as an outlet for dealers working “beyond the high street”. Pitched as a fully vetted but ‘affordable, mid-point fair’, Connect – The Independent Art Fair will be held from January 29–February 2 at The Mall Galleries in London.
“This is an opportunity to meet people in central London for the majority of participants who don’t have a bricks and mortar space,” says 20th century British art specialist Freya Mitton, who has signed up. “And it’s a chance to meet people face-to-face, so that you’re more than just a website to them.”
Aristophil’s first hours
The mammoth disposal of the Aristophil collections of historic manuscripts kicked off with seven auctions at Drouot (June 15 and 18-20). The firm was the biggest buyer of historical manuscripts for over a decade, with 54 different collections formed through its investment scheme, before it was declared bankrupt in 2015.
Two late 15th works, The Petau Book of Hours, €4.29m (£3.77m), and the Grand Hours of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, €2.21m, both offered by Aguttes on June 15, dominated bidding. More sales followed in November and it may take as many as 300 sales to disperse the 135,000 manuscripts.
One well-known item not part of the Aristophil sales was a copy of the famous Ronnie Barker ‘Fork Handles’ script.
It had first surfaced on BBC’s Antiques Roadshowin 2006 and, included in East Bristol Auctions on June 1, sold at £28,000.
Quote of the month
For a generation of dealers, this fair was a starting point. But the market isn’t easy and there aren’t the young dealers coming through in my area
Dealer Guy Peppiatt on The Works on Paper Fair
Outstanding fan collections sold at Tennants, Kingham & Orme, Special Auction Services and Matthew Barton made 2018 a breeze for collectors. This mid-19th century Canton black lacquer fan painted with a landscape oval featuring horse riders and attendants sold for £1000 (plus 24% buyer’s premium), well over its £300-400 estimate at Matthew Barton on June 6-7.
An auction record for FCB Cadell was the highlight of Sotheby’s £3.67m sale of the Harrison collection of Scottish Colourists. Reflection, from 1915, is from a series depicting Miss Bertia Don Wauchope standing beside a mirror.
It was hammered down for £720,000 (plus 25/20/12.9% buyer’s premium) on June 12. A record for any Colourist followed later in the month (June 19) when Christie’s sold Samuel Peploe’s Still Life with Tulips for £820,000.
Only about 80 Fabergé hard stone and enamel botanical studies are known but two were brought to Hansons’ London office wrapped in a tea towel. Auctioneer Charles Hanson called it his “most significant find ever” adding, “it was totally unexpected – as the best finds always are”.
Both were knocked down to the same private buyer on June 11 – a morning glory sold for £180,000 and a barberry bush for £160,000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium).
The medieval gold head of a saint was knocked down at €98,000/£86,000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium) at Pierre Bergé & Associés in Paris. It was formerly owned by industrialist and collector Julien Chappée.
Dating from the latter half of the 12th century, it was made in the southern area of present-day Belgium and the Rhineland, a centre for the production of reliquaries and liturgical art.
Three 18th century English carved and painted wooden dolls, in the same family for over two centuries, sold at Special Auction Services of Newbury on June 19.
The Byne Ladies originally belonged to Isabella Byne, a reverend’s daughter from Northumberland. Two sold at £26,000 each (plus 17.5% buyer’s premium), while the third and largest sold for £5000.