LONDON.- There may be a global recession but the 2009 International Ceramics Fair & Seminar was greeted as enthusiastically as ever by the collectors and academics who frequent the fair every year.
Founded by Brian and Anna Haughton and now in its 28th year, the 15 exhibitors offered a wide selection of the very finest British and Continental pottery, porcelain, glass and enamels. Running concurrently was the 12-part lecture programme, an annual forum for presenting and discussing the latest research and discoveries in the ceramics world and which was again attended by leading academics and collectors.
This years lecture series was on a par with the best of previous years, with talks frequently a sell-out. Topics included a debate about how the works of art in The Wallace Collection, London, have inspired contemporary ceramics and glass artists; an introduction to the new ceramics galleries at the Victoria & Albert Museum (set to open from this autumn onwards); a lecture on the Vienna Baroque porcelain of Du Paquier; another on Court Dining in Baroque Vienna and another examining Russian Imperial Porcelain in the Winter Palace during the reign of Nicholas I (1825-55)
Exhibitors at the 2009 fair:
Newcomers AD Antiques (Chipping Campden, Glos) exhibiting British Art Pottery and Antiques & Porcelain ( Vienna , Dresden , Chicago) showing 18th century European porcelain from Meissen and Vienna joined the familiar names. The regular exhibitors are: Bazaart (London); Dragesco-Cramoisan (Paris); Brian Haughton Gallery (London); Daniela Kumpf Kunstandel (Wiesbaden, Germany); Elfriede Langeloh (Weinheim, Germany); E. & H. Manners (London); Christophe Perlès (Paris); Potterton Books (Nr Thirsk, Yorks); Robyn Robb (London); Sampson & Horne (London); Adrian Sassoon (London); Steppes Hill Farm Antiques (Sittingbourne, Kent); John Whitehead (London).
The fair opened with the customary queue and a rush of business in the first hours, with sales ranging across the breadth of the fair. One of the advantages of a smaller event like this, is the concentration of quallity both in terms of exhibitor and ceramics (all items vetted for quality and authenticity). As such the fair offers a valuable opportunity for visitors to view and discuss items that are among the very best currently on the market.
Sales included a dated (1545) Italian maiolica plate from Faenza at London dealer Bazaart, decorated with Peleus discovering the sleeping Thetis watched by a winged cupid, which sold on the opening day of the fair. Another, at German dealer Elfriede Langeloh, who specialises in the finest Meissen and other German factories, was the Meissen figure of Pulchinella (illustrated in the fair handbook) in colourful Italian commedia dellarte costume. It was produced in 1748 by the great modeller Johann Joachim Kaendler, and sold for a substantial five figure sum. Wiesbaden dealer Daniela Kumpf, whose special interest is in the lesser known German and Austrian factories, also enjoyed very good business, including a number of pieces on reserve to museums by the close of the fair.
Among the exhibitors specialising in earlier material, Paris dealer Christophe Perlès reported a superb fair, selling many pieces in the four and five figure price bracket. One was a very rare 18th century Capodimonte figure of a child and goat attributed to Gricci, another was a white porcelain Meissen Böttger teapot from circa 1718/20, a third was a Chantilly bowl decorated in Kakiemon style circa 1730 and, finally, an 18th century Nove di Bassano faience basket and stand. Dragesco-Cramoisan from Paris were also selling well, in particular their main highlight, a large polychrome St Cloud cooler, 1720/30, which sold to a private buyer.
London dealer Jonathan Horne described the fair as a resounding success commenting on its consistent ability to bring together so many enthusiasts. The only exhibitor at the fair, offering early English pottery (one item from the 13th century), he sold a range of early ceramics, which he described as from the primitive to exotic including pieces of Staffordshire, mediaeval wares and Delft, priced from £150 to several thousand.
There are even new, younger buyers emerging, said Robyn Robb, with some surprise. Most dealers lament the shortage of younger collectors. She also noted that there was more very good early Chelsea on offer at this years fair, some on her stand, some at Brian Haughton Gallery and some at E & H Manners. All three exhibitors sold well. Robyn Robbs main highlights from this group were two Chelsea botanical plates (illustrated in the fair handbook which she had matched with illustrations from Philip Millers Figures of Plants, an 18th century publication.
Brian Haughton Gallery had an excellent fair, owing to the recent publication of their latest catalogue A Passion for Porcelain, featuring in particular Chelsea and Worcester from the collection of Paul and Helga Riley but, in addition, highly important examples of Meissen. Sales ranged from about £2000 up to around £20,000, notable highlights including very rare, early (1745-50) examples of Chelsea and similarly important Worcester of the same period, together with especially good sales of Meissen and other Continental porcelains.
New exhibitor AD antiques, British Art Pottery specialist from Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds were delighted with their fair debut, which far exceeded expectations according to Alison Davey and partner George Kingham. They made new contacts among collectors and museums and sold examples of each factory they represent. William De Morgan was especially popular, as the founding father of the British Art Pottery movement, but there were many other sales too, including to overseas clients and in one case 12 items to one collector. Sales ranged from under £200 to several thousand.Also new to the fair, Antiques and Porcelain, from Vienna, specialise in Meissen from the Horoldt period in particular (1720-65), but they also carry Vienna porcelains and some early 19th century examples from those same factories. Jurgen Kastl of Antiques and Porcelain was also very satisfied with his first appearance, making many new contacts and an encouraging level of business. .
Contemporary ceramics and glass on view included examples by artists commissioned by Adrian Sassoon to produce pieces inspired by the works of art in the Wallace Collection. Kate Malone, Angela Jarman, Michael Eden, Michael Flynn and Charlotte Hodes were all among those participating in the project. Sculptural pieces attracted particular interest and there were a number of sales in the low to upper four figure bracket, mainly to private buyers, including Tanya Bretts monumental War Horse, Christie Browns small ceramic figures and Angela Jarmans glass creations inspired by helmets in the Wallace arms and armour collection.