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Part of the suite from the Derbyshire home – the serpentine sofa and two cabriole armchairs – will be reunited for the first time in half a century on the stand of London furniture specialists Godson and Coles at Masterpiece London.

The chairs are thought to have been sold as part of a Dreweatts auction in 1986 and have spent the intervening years in a private collection in South Carolina. The sofa probably left the Burdett family at an earlier date.

Expect to find many tales of research, rediscovery and reattribution at Masterpiece, the grandest of London’s summer fairs and the showpiece event for the British antiques trade. Running from June 27-July 3 in a purpose-built marquee on the south grounds of The Royal Hospital Chelsea, the show hosts around 160 exhibitors bringing their finest stock.


While contemporary galleries – such as Blain Southern, Jonathan Cooper and Patrick Heide – have a significant presence, the emphasis remains on cross-collecting. Buyers are encouraged to take in the best of the old with the new. Though it is aimed at shoppers with deep pockets, the fair provides a selection of offerings at most price points.

Objects on offer date back to antiquity. Charles Ede, for example, displays a terracotta rhyton in the form of a bull from Amlash (modern Iran) from c.1000BC. Though abstracted, the figure includes a fully-rendered phallus and testicles with original lunate silver earrings hanging from its pierced ears. It may have been used at funerary banquets, the pouring and drinking of red wine symbolic of the ritual slaughtering of bulls.

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Offered by Charles Ede for £98,000 at Masterpiece, this terracotta bull rhyton from Amlash, c.1000BC, measures 10 x 12in (26 x 30cm) and was in the collection of Dr H Winkler of Germany prior to 1970.

“ Though it is aimed at shoppers with deep pockets, the fair provides a selection of offerings at most price points

Wick Antiques, meanwhile, presents Britain on the High Seas: From Nelson to Churchill, a catalogue including jewels, furniture, books and musical instruments on a maritime theme.

Among the highlights is a £100 Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund sword awarded to Commander Arthur Farquhar who served under Nelson as commander of the Acheron.

Although he lost his ship, he was acquitted of any wrongdoing, and his court-martial papers, signed by 13 captains of the fleet and Admiral Nelson, are offered at the fair along with the sword for a seven-figure sum.

Themed shows

Also staging a themed show for the event are the dealerships Daniel Crouch Rare Books and Les Enluminures, who partner on one stand for Sapiens: Mapping the History of Ideas. These will showcase diverse works including maps, globes and printed books as well as jewellery.

For the first time there will be a stand devoted works from dealers at Hong Kong’s Fine Art Asia fair. A reciprocal Masterpiece ‘pavilion’ will appear the Hong Kong Fair from October 4-7, a first step towards plans of expansion.

Sculpture series

The Masterpiece Sculpture Series also debuts at this edition. A selection of modern and contemporary works drawn from exhibitors is arranged inside and outside the fair under the curatorial direction of the Ingram Collection’s Jo Baring.

These include works by Gary Hume, who will appear in conversation with Baring as part of the talks programme.

Also on the programme are The Artist as Collector (Anna Dempster of the Royal Academy with four contemporary artists) and Multiple Passions: Advising Collectors with Diverse Interests (Masterpiece chairman Philip Hewat-Jaboor with two art advisers).

There is an extensive list of talks taking place on exhibitors’ stands throughout the fair and a programme of activities for children and family concentrated on Sunday.