For members of the trade with shops outside London, or the increasing number without retail premises at all, fairs remain a must. That’s why this year, with the addition of Fair For Saatchi to the established Olympia and Masterpiece fairs, there is more, not less fairs activity in London this summer. However, there’s no question that with so much art, all tightly displayed under one roof across a relatively short time slot, the experience can be quite intense.
While art fairs have the distinct advantage of attracting a diverse range of visitors, at a gallery exhibition works can be shown to their best advantage in a more user-friendly setting and enjoyed at a rather different pace.
With less emphasis on pure commerce – the need to recoup stand costs running to the tens of thousands introduces an urgency and intensity at an art fair – in the gallery a dealer can devote much more time to interacting with visitors and are delighted to spend time in conversation, answering questions or putting works into context. It puts the focus back onto the objects themselves.
Season staple: London Art Week
The leading ‘by dealers for dealers’ event is London Art Week (June 27-July 5). Now in its sixth year, the eight-day summer event, a celebration of largely traditional ‘pre-contemporary’ art, is a staple of the season.
Incorporating around 50 dealers, most of them established London dealers, some of them renting space for the week, it offers a sizeable dose of Mayfair and St James’s gallery-led activity supported by the showpiece July Old Master sales of three auction houses: Bonhams, Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The atmosphere is relaxed, collegiate and with an emphasis on the wider perspective – cementing London’s position as one of the most vibrant centres of the international art market.
Commercial galleries and auction rooms offer some of the best art shows in town with the opportunity to get a little more up close and personal with what is on offer. A particularly good way of enjoying LAW is to attend some of the bespoke lectures or private views that include Canaletto, Bellotto and their Circle at Charles Beddington (July 1) and The Grand Tour & the Dilettanti: Art and Decadence in 18th Century Britain (Colnaghi, July 3).
And it’s not all canvas and paper. Highlights this year include a £750,000 Renaissance marquetry casket from Newbattle Abbey at Trinity Fine Art in conjunction with Georg Laue Kunstkammer and the exhibition titled The Lost Tapestries of Charles I at S Frances.
Some of these and other highlights are pictured above.
A Collectors’ Paradise
Some of London’s ceramics dealers have trodden the path of the gallery exhibition for several years. The latest edition of A Collectors’ Paradise, a selling exhibition of ceramics from three dealers – Robyn Robb, Christophe Perlès and Brian Haughton – takes place at the latter’s gallery in St James’s from June 28-July 5. London specialist in English porcelain Robyn Robb brings a selection of 18th century pieces including this rare Chelsea Red Anchor period mug shown below, standing 5¼in (13.5cm) high and painted with an owl and other birds perched on branches. It will be priced in the region of £9500.
The Brian Haughton Gallery will present a mix of English and Continental ceramics, in both pottery and porcelain. Among the rarities on offer is this previously unrecorded porcelain tureen and cover from Nicholas Crisp’s London enterprise at Vauxhall. Modelled in the white as a hare seated at lodge, it dates from c.1755 and is priced at £30,000.
Mayfair Art Weekend
BADA ‘pop up’ in Pimlico
Leading dealers have signed up to take part in the British Antique Dealers’ Association’s inaugural ‘pop up’ summer selling exhibition on Pimlico Road. The BADA members-only event is timed to coincide with the Masterpiece fair happening less than a mile away.
The dealer body has signed a rental agreement with the Grosvenor Estate, as part of a wider partnership, to host what it is calling BADA Collection at 46 Pimlico Road from June 25 -July 10.
Each dealer will show a small selection of stock including the Warwickshire specialist in Eastern arms and armour Runjeet Singh who offers an early 19th century Tengpai wicker shield from Qing dynasty China. Shields such as this made of a long rattan coil with painted decoration, were carried into battle by the colourfully dressed Tigermen soldiers. It is priced at £14,000.
A similar shield is in the Qing court collection at the Palace Museum in Beijing.