LONDON.- Art Antiques London
opened its doors to the public on June 10th, following a highly successful private preview and glamorous First Night Party in aid of The Bush Theatre on 9th June. The two events attracted around 1,800 people.
The Fair, which won plaudits for its spacious and elegant presentation, played host to 63 international specialists from a wide range of disciplines. The Fair was busy from the outset and maintained a steady flow of visitors throughout. The final visitor figure for the Fair was in excess of 14,000.
Art Antiques London incorporated the well established and much loved International Ceramics Fair and Seminar and maintaining that tradition, presented a stimulating lecture programme with top international museum curators and specialists, talking on a wide range of subjects. The lecture programme proved an important attraction for serious collectors and connoisseurs.
The First Night party attracted a fashionable crowd of actors, City financiers, and well-heeled local residents raising a total of £500,000 for The Bush Theatre. The live auction conducted with great style and élan by Kit and the Widow contributed in excess of £100,000 to this sum. Many sales were made during the First Night party and exhibitors commented that this was the best party they had ever seen at any Fair. Celebrities attending the event included Arts Minister Ed Vaizey, actors Sam West, James Purefoy, Rachel Stirling, Jessica Hynes and Hattie Moran, playwright Christopher Hampton, television presenter Rick Edwards and model Saffron Aldridge. Damien Hirst, Valentino and Rupert Everett were also seen during the Fair.
Mayfair dealers, McConnal Mason kicked off the Fair to an auspicious start with the sale of The Gateway 1951 by L S Lowry (1887-1976). They continued to sell significant pieces to English private collectors during the Fair. A watercolour, also by L S Lowry - Five Figures, 1952. - was sold by Stephen Ongpin, whose other sales included White Form, 1959 by Ben Nicholson (1894-1982). Lowell Libson was delighted to sell, amongst other pictures, a watercolour, entitled Queen Eleanors Cross, Waltham Cross by J W M Turner (1775-1851) and Melrose Abbey by David Roberts RA (1796-1864).
English watercolour specialist, John Spink also reported a good Fair selling around seven pictures, including his catalogue piece The Salute from The Grand Canal, Venice, 1860 by Thomas Miles Richardson Jr. (1860-18900. Contemporary pictures also found buyers with Jonathan Cooper finding buyers for many of the pieces on his stand including Tanya Bretts large ceramic polar bear, which was sold to a new client.
As might have been expected sales of ceramics were extremely strong. Brian Haughton sold a number of important pieces including two 18th-century teapots on the opening night one a Mennecy teapot with silver mount, 1740 and the other a rare early Worcester teapot and cover decorated in the Prunus Root pattern, 1755. For Rome dealers, Lukacs and Donath, sales included an extremely rare Meissen teapot and cover decorated by Abraham Seuter, c. 1720 to a European collector and Daniela Kumpf from Wiesbaden commented on the very high number of museum curators she met at the Fair. Parisian dealers Dragesco Cramoisan sold a number of pieces including a major Chantilly covered vase, which was sold at the private preview.
Other areas of the Fair also flourished. Furniture dealer Christopher Buck sold over twenty pieces of furniture largely to new clients who lived within a mile of the Fair. Works of art and sculpture specialist, William Agnew sold twenty-four pieces from his stand mostly to private clients while Christopher Sheppard reported an excellent Fair: his sales included a rare, very large wall plaque made by Brocard for the Paris Exhibition of 1878 and an engraved, enamelled and gilded covered glass Humpen, 1576, which was used to celebrate the marriage of the Duke of Pomeranea to the Princess of Brandenburg. The only other known example from this group is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Both sold pieces had an asking price of £75,000.
Silver specialists, B Silverman were delighted with the Fair and sold a good number of items including an important Scottish silver cup and cover, 1860 and a fine pair of George III candlesticks both to new clients. Sanda Lipton reported strong interest in early pieces and sold a number of pistol handled knives and 13th and 14th-century horse harness pendants. The Mamuli from West Sumba, c. 1900, which was used as the image for the Fair was sold by Susan Ollemans on the first day. Indian jewellery specialist Samina Khanyari sold a number of objects to both new and existing clients included an important 17th-century Mughal pendant to a private collector for a six-figure sum whereas traditional jewellery dealer Sandra Cronan was delighted to sell a sapphire and diamond Cartier Art Deco bracelet c. 1925 to a young collector.
The loan exhibition of 20th-century Russian photographs presented by the London Friends of the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg from the Tosca Fund Collection provided an added dimension to the Fair and was very well received by visitors. The highly successful restaurant, champagne bar and café were run by the Admirable Crichton ensuring that the standard of food and service were of the highest levels. The light-filled restaurant overlooking the Albert Memorial was admired by all and was busy throughout the week. It also provided the most delightful venue for the Charity Gala dinner on the opening evening and for Brian and Anna Haughtons Collectors Dinner for museum curators, collectors and dealers.
The first Art Antiques London was marked not only by commercial success but also for the feeling of camaraderie between the exhibiting dealers. New York dealer, Jane Kahan summed up the mood of the Fair, when she said,
the atmosphere is excellent, the mood is buoyant, the interest is serious and we could not be happier. The Fair reflects the elegance, connoisseurship, quality and generosity of spirit for which the Haughtons are known.