Around 50 UK and European dealers converge on the Georgian city of Bath this month for the inaugural autumn edition of the Bath Decorative Antiques Fair.
Traditionally held in the spring, the event returns for its 33rd year to its home at The Pavilion from October 22-24 with the trade preview – famous for its long queue – scheduled for October 21.
If other recent physical fairs are anything to go by – such as the Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair in Battersea (see story on page 52) – pent-up demand and a desire to be back combing the aisles will entice a decent showing of dealers, interior decorators and private buyers.
Founded in 1989 by Bath dealer Robin Coleman and run since 2011 by Sue Ede and Peter Hodder of Cooper Events, the fair is an established market leader in the British decorative events calendar.
It caters to an abundance of interior styles, from English country house and Mid-century design to industrial chic and Swedish period painted furniture and is noted for its friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
For Sam White and Naomi Cunningham, who run Cunningham White in Totnes, Devon, that vibe is a major reason they enjoy standing at Bath.
“It doesn’t have the intimidating atmosphere that some might feel when visiting other fairs so it’s a good introduction for people that might want to start buying quality decorative antiques”, says White.
“For myself as a dealer, it’s a great fair to stand at as it’s internationally attended but has a local feel and there’s a really good camaraderie between the dealers.”
The couple bring their usual mix of country house furniture and interesting decorative pieces, including a late 19th century Venetian grotto chair, the back in the form of a scallop shell, attributed to Venetian company Pauly et Cie and priced at £4500.
So called ‘grotto’ furniture was popular with European nobility who built shell-encrusted grottos in the grounds of their grand houses during the 18th and 19th centuries. By the late 19th century this trend had found its way inside these stately homes, with Pauly et Cie the leading maker of grotto furniture for this purpose.
Taking this year’s autumnal scheduling into account, the pair also offer planters including a pair of Compton urns and some Victorian faux bois stoneware pieces for planting bulbs of spring flowering plants.
Elsewhere, The Home Bothy from West Sussex brings an unusual English winged armchair or lambing chair from c.1820 ticketed at £1400. New exhibitor Greencore Design based in Powys offers a late 19th century ebonised Swedish pine tall cupboard framed with fluted side pillars and decorative crown moulding priced at £2950.
They are joined at the fair by a number of other debutants including House of Hummingbird (Bath); Imagined Interiors (Somerset); Lily Antiques (Tetbury); Chairman Antiques (Wiltshire); Track 21 Interiors (Hampshire) – see this week’s 5 Questions; Linda Jackson (London Silver Vaults) and Anthony Hepworth Fine Art (Bath).
Among the returnees is Thomas Spencer Fine Art which brings a typically bright and bold gouache on paper of tropical fruit by Mary Feddon (1915-2012) and La Place offering a highly decorative 2ft 7in (79cm) high terracotta horse head from Tuscany presented on a sculptor’s stand (pictured top).
A digital flipbook catalogue is available to view via the fair’s website.