Masterpiece London 2016 – The Best In Show

by | Object

Masterpiece London normally heralds the annual start of an art, design and antiques feeding frenzy – with collectors having barely caught their breath after Art Basel. Then – with London Art Week (1-8 July) – every major art gallery, auction house and museum attempts to dazzle the world’s super rich collectors with the display of their finest treasures.

This year is – of course – different. And it was up to Masterpiece London to test the atmosphere in post-Bexit Britain – just days after the referendum – like the canary in the coal mine. The gilded canary certainly survived – but a general concern over the future of everything, hung like a deep dark cloud over the fair opening, that could hardly be dispelled by the flowing river of champagne.

Now that the pound had fallen off a cliff, how would sales be affected? Even if that meant there were bargains to be had for foreign buyers – should they be spending quite so conspicuously or perhaps the drawbridge ought to be pulled up for a while. Although attendance figures were slightly lower than last year’s, it’s still too soon to say how overall sales were affected. It’s also too soon to see how the art market in general will be affected by the earthquake that is Brexit.

Now in its seventh edition, the fair – that replaced the Grosvenor House Art and Antiques Fair – has been under the stewardship of Nazy Vassegh for three years. In that time, in the words of Vassegh, “Masterpiece continued its strategy of elevation and evolution”, from a fair that focused on luxury and the decorative arts, to one which has evolved to also include a wide range of fine art.

The embarrassment of riches that is Masterpiece London means that one moment you may be swooning over a Chagall, a Monet, a Van Dyke, a Fontana or a Calder and the next over a superbly crafted Riva speedboat, a Jean Prouve chair or pink sapphire broach by JAR. The Fair is an unparalleled opportunity for collectors and curators to discover rare and museum-quality work from 154 world renowned exhibitors showcasing over 5,000 years of art history.

Here’s our picks of those extraordinary and eclectic Croesusian riches that only a king’s ransom can buy, with some insightful tips from some of the world’s leading dealers on forming a collection.

logo masterpiece london 2016

MALLETT ANTIQUES

London & New York

Tell us something about your gallery?

Mallett is celebrating its 150th anniversary, having started in Bath in 1865 and moved to London in the early 20th century. Mallett has always specialized in the best English and European 18th century furniture and decorative arts. Mallett’s “house style” could be characterised as combining great pieces of English, European, Chinese and Indian decorative arts, akin to the great country houses or “treasure houses” of Great Britain. Not only are the objects themselves of impeccable quality and condition, but they most often have great provenance and have an interesting story attached to them.

A pair of mid 19th century cut glass ruby red decanters masterpiece london 2016 Mallett

A pair of mid 19th century cut glass ruby red decanters. Origin Bohemia, circa 1870. ©Mallett Antiques

Why do you exhibit at Masterpiece London?

Masterpiece is the best art fair in Great Britain and is a natural successor to the Grosvenor House Fair, but re-imagined. Masterpiece brings together exceptional pieces of fine and decorative arts from a wide range of periods and disciplines. Mallett is one of the founding members of the fair and is delighted in its continued success.

marquetry commode masterpiece london 2016 Mallett antiques

An Important George III Ormolu-Mounted Marquetry Commode Attributed to Mayhew & Ince.Origin England, circa 1765. ©Mallett Antiques

A pair of late 19th century watercolour panels masterpiece london 2016 Mallett antiques

A Pair of Japanese Hawk Panels. Circa 1880. ©Mallett Antiques

What are the highlights of your stand this year at Masterpiece London?

We are delighted to handle and offer again this pair of magnificent George III giltwood mirrors by John Bradburn and William France. These were commissioned by Sir Lawrence Dundas in 1764 and were placed in the main drawing room at his Arlington Street residence, which was redesigned by Robert Adam. It was for this residence that Adam designed a famous suite of giltwood seat furniture, which was then executed by Thomas Chippendale, their only known collaboration. Our mirrors were made to complement this great suite.

We also have at the stand a very rare serpentine-fronted marquetry commode attributed to Mayhew & Ince. This commode is one of a similar group of eight known commodes, which vary in size and decoration, all attributed to the firm of Mayhew & Ince. Not only is the marquetry exquisitely executed, but the cabinetmaker makes use of yew wood as the ground onto which he has inlaid incredible floral and foliate marquetry motifs. A number of these commodes have been in major collections, including one in the Metropolitan Museum, which is of a smaller size. This commode displays some of the finest marquetry you will find on an English commode and it is an amazing survival of the period.

Lastly, we are pleased to offer a beautiful French Louis XV lacquer commode, which was owned by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, formerly the Duchess of Marlborough. Vanderbilt Balsan had a magnificent collection of French furniture, which she owned with her husband Jacques in France and New York. This commode was purchased from her by French & Co. and went into the collection of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman. Subsequently, it went into the collection of Mrs. Nathan Cummings. It bears great similarity to the work of Pierre-Harry Mewesen.

pair of 19th century watercolour panels masterpiece london 2016 Mallett antiques

A pair of late 19th century watercolour panels, each showing hunting hawks tethered to a perch by a knotted, coloured cord. ©Mallett Antiques

What makes a masterpiece and what does the word mean to you?

A masterpiece in decorative arts, particularly in furniture, combines unique vision and superb craftsmanship. A great piece of furniture has to have excellent proportions, beautiful lines and has to be incredibly well made. A masterpiece takes these to a different level, where the furniture becomes more than just a cabinet or a chair, but piece of sculpture.

Composition by Grigory Gluckmann masterpiece london 2016George III giltwood mirrors by John Bradburn and William France masterpiece london 2016 Mallett antiques

George III giltwood mirrors by John Bradburn and William France. ©Mallett Antiques

What’s your tip for the budding collector?

When you are struck by a piece of art or furniture, you should trust that this is what you really like. Then, it is up to you to educate yourself about what that thing is, its history, its provenance, how it is made, the vision of the artist and understand its comparisons in the market. This is not an investment game – you should be passionate about what you are buying, because at the end of the day, you live with it every day, and it should give you pleasure. Otherwise, it is not worth having.

French Louis XV lacquer commode masterpiece london 2016 Mallett antiques

A Louis XV Black Lacquer Commode. Origin France, circa 1755. ©Mallett Antiques

stay connected and don’t miss a beat with our ever growing online communities

GALLERY MARCILHAC

Paris

Tell us something about your gallery?

The Galerie Marcilhac is undoubtedly the oldest Parisian gallery devoted to the Decorative Arts of the twentieth century. Located in the heart of the 6th arrondissement, under the direction of Félix-Félix Marcilhac, the gallery presents unique works from the 1920’s to the 1940’s. The always careful selection of pieces hailing from leading French decorators participated in internationally establishing Galerie Marcilhac as one of the most important galleries specializing in the Decorative Arts.

The reputation of Félix-Félix Marcilhac, an international expert in the field of Art Deco has allowed recognition from collectors throughout the world, since the very creation of the Gallery in 1969. He is the author of several descriptive catalogs including those of glassmakers René Lalique and Maurice Marinot; sculptors Chana Orloff, Edouard Marcel Sandoz and Joseph Csaky; decorators André Groult and Maison Dominique; brassware artist Jean Dunand; and painters Paul Jouve and Jacques Majorelle.

Under the leadership of Félix-Félix Marcilhac, the gallery organizes exhibitions devoted to the great figures of decorative arts who uphold the respected reputation of the gallery. Exhibitions at Galerie Marcilhac include works by famous artists from the Art Deco period such as Gaston Suisse, Emile Jacques Ruhlmann, Jean-Michel Frank, Marcel Coard, Printz, Jean Dunand, Jules Leleu and Louis Sue and André Mare Jacques Adnet, alongside works by more contemporary artists.

Félix-Félix Marcilhac is sank in this young generation of art dealers who are building the future of the dazzling jobs of gallerists and antiquaries. Held by a new vision of the preservation and valorization of our heritage, Galerie Marcilhac highlights more than ever the Decorative Arts of the twentieth century.
The active participation and high-quality presentation of the gallery at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris and at several international exhibitions and art fairs in Brussels, London and New York, have confirmed the overwhelming success of the Galerie Marcilhac.

masterpiece london 2016 GALLERY MARCILHAC ALBERTO GIACOMETTI

‘Figure’ Floor Lamp by Alberto Giacometti, circa 1953-1960. ©Gallery Marcilhac

Why do you exhibit at Masterpiece London 2016?

We need to be present in many capitals of the world to share our passion and knowledge about Art Deco and to meet collectors from around the world. London is a major place for that.

JEAN ROYÈRE Living room sofa and pair of armchairs masterpiece london 2016

Living room sofa and pair of armchairs by JEAN ROYÈRE, circa 1949. ©Gallery Marcilhac

What are the highlights of your stand this year at Masterpiece London?

Marc Duplantier’s Desk and Armchair
Jean Royère’s Sofa and Pair of Armchairs
Eugene Printz’s Wardrobe

MARC DU PLANTIER Desk and Armchair, masterpiece london 2016

Desk and Armchair by Marc Du Plantier, circa 1940. ©Gallery Marcilhac

What makes a masterpiece and what does the word mean to you?

A Masterpiece should be light and air, restraint and refinement, and simplicity above all.

Pair of sconces Shell masterpiece london 2016

Pair of sconces Shell by Serge Roche, circa 1930. In patinated plaster. ©Gallery Marcilhac

What’s your tip for the budding collector?

Have a curiosity for everything and nothing… But always looking for everything.

EUGÈNE PRINTZ Wardrobe masterpiece london 2016

Wardrobe by Eugene Printz, circa 1930. In rosewood, the front and back legs in oxidized brass. ©Gallery Marcilhac

Collecting is by no means a passive activity. It can be a spur to great imaginative achievements too.

Image: Panther side face in the bamboos by Gaston Suisse, 1927. Wood engraving on Japan paper, Indian ink. ©Gallery Marcilhac

KUNSTBERATUNG ZÜRICH

Zurich, Switzerland

Tell us something about your gallery?

In our gallery we have paintings that reflect our personal preferences and tastes. With shops in Zurich and Moscow we deal with different periods, it can be old masters, Flemish, early Italian, or modern paintings. What unites these works is our concept of real art, or ‘masterpiece’. Kunstberatung Zürich deals in fine quality paintings from the 15th to the 20th century of the European and Russian schools. We believe it is our obligation to present only works of art of the finest quality, in pristine condition and with guaranteed provenance to suit the most demanding art collectors.

LE RYTHME by Tamara de Lempicka masterpiece london 2016

LE RYTHME by Tamara de Lempicka, 1924. Oil on canvas. ©KUNSTBERATUNG ZÜRICH

What are the highlights of your stand this year at Masterpiece London?

We have fabulous Tamara de Lempicka from 1924,  as well as very interesting early Kandinskys.

What makes a masterpiece and what does the word mean to you?

Masterpiece is a work of art that touches your soul, opens your eyes, reveals new meanings. It can be a very personal masterpiece and or something that everyone accepts as such.

THE ABDUCTION OF EUROPE NIKOLAI KALMAKOFF masterpiece london 2016 KUNSTBERATUNG ZÜRICH

THE ABDUCTION OF EUROPE by Nikolai Kalmakov 1928. Gouache on paper. ©KUNSTBERATUNG ZÜRICH

What’s your tip for the budding collector?

Always try to develop your taste, never limit yourself and get what you really like.

Composition by Grigory Gluckmann masterpiece london 2016

Composition by Grigory Gluckmann. Oil on panel. ©KUNSTBERATUNG ZÜRICH

stay connected and don’t miss a beat with our ever growing online communities

STEPHEN ONGPIN FINE ART

London

Tell us something about your gallery?

Stephen Ongpin Fine Art was established in a gallery in St. James’s in London in December 2007. The gallery mounts annual exhibitions of Master Drawings in both London and New York, and issues regular catalogues, as well as participating in several art fairs. The gallery has close contacts with museums, scholars and collectors in England, America and Europe, and has sold drawings to over thirty international museums. Stephen Ongpin has more than twenty-five years of experience as a dealer in Old Master, 19th and 20th century drawings.

Jean Dupas Study for The Chariot of Poseidon Mural masterpiece london 2016 STEPHEN ONGPIN FINE ART

Study for The Chariot of Poseidon Mural for the S.S. Normandie. by Jean Dupas, 1935. Pen and black and grey ink, brown wash, charcoal and stumping. ©Stephen Ongpin Fine Art

Why do you exhibit at Masterpiece London?

The fair is certainly one of the finest fairs in London, and also one of the most attractive. Yet they have never had a gallery that specialised in drawings and watercolours from across five centuries, so I thought it would be interesting to take part and to show the range of what my gallery does.

What are the highlights of your stand this year at Masterpiece London?

There are many, but I would say the large 1948 drawing by Lucian Freud of a boat, a 1970 Picasso drawing of an artist and model, and a 1914 watercolour by Emil Nolde.

Head of a South Sea Island Woman (Bildnis einer Südseeinsulanerin) by Emil Nolde masterpiece london 2016 STEPHEN ONGPIN FINE ART

Head of a South Sea Island Woman (Bildnis einer Südseeinsulanerin) by Emil Nolde, 1914. Watercolour and gouache, brush and black ink, on rice straw paper. ©Stephen Ongpin Fine Art

What makes a masterpiece and what does the word mean to you?

A work of the very highest quality, which is, in some way, life-affirming.

Boat Connemara by Lucian Freud masterpiece london 2016 STEPHEN ONGPIN FINE ART

Boat, Connemara by Lucian Freud, 1948. Pen and black ink and tempera, with touches of white heightening, on thin Whatman paper. ©Stephen Ongpin Fine Art

What’s your tip for the budding collector?

Always buy what you love. At the same time, do visit as many dealers, auctions and museums as possible to get a real sense of what appeals to you, and do not be afraid to ask a dealer for help or advice; we love to share our passion and knowledge with others.

The Artist and his Model by Pablo Picasso masterpiece london 2016 STEPHEN ONGPIN FINE ART

The Artist and his Model (Le peintre et son modèle) by Pablo Picasso, 1970. Pen and black ink and white chalk on light brown card. ©Stephen Ongpin Fine Art

stay connected and don’t miss a beat with our ever growing online communities

AXEL VERVOORDT

Wijnegem, Belgium

Tell us something about your gallery?

Axel Vervoordt, who started out in business at the end of the 1960s, has emerged as one of the world’s leading – and most diverse – art and antique dealers. Over the years, his business has evolved into an international company with over 100 employees. Alongside art and antiques, the company is also engaged in interior design and the creation of its own ‘Home Collection’. Furthermore, he himself is a fervent collector of Oriental art, contemporary art and antiquities. His private collection, which includes work by Anish Kapoor, Lucio Fontana and Jef Verheyen, has been consolidated into the Axel and May Vervoordt Foundation that, from 2017 onwards, will find a permanent home in ‘Kanaal’.

Axel Vervoordt has taken the art of combining eclectic pieces into a harmonious whole to an unprecedented new level. Axel Vervoordt puts it like this: ‘Essentially, I love all the artistic disciplines, from all parts of the world and from all periods. I am as moved by the High Baroque as I am by Arte Povera, or by ancient, incredibly simple everyday objects from past centuries. It is precisely this combination of extremes that can make a strong statement, but it must never become showy or superfluous. In my view, an interior mustn’t become a stage set. It is a place in which to live – not an exhibition. As an interior designer, you are always searching for a balance between art, objects and the architectural environment’.

masterpiece london 2016 Axel Vervoordt stand

Axel Vervoordt at Masterpiece London 2016. ©Axel Vervoordt

Why do you exhibit at Masterpiece London 2016?

Masterpiece is a wonderful fair with a very eclectic combination of antiques, antiquities and design attracting a large variety of collectors. It has built up a very fine reputation over the six years of existence and we definitely wanted to be part of it.

Axel Vervoordt stand at masterpiece london 2016

Axel Vervoordt at Masterpiece London 2016. ©Axel Vervoordt

What are the highlights of your stand this year at Masterpiece London?

To mark our first participation at Masterpiece London, we are presenting a 1960 work by Shozo Shimamoto ‘Armor’. This work embodies artistic freedom – experimenting with unusual materials – and fits within the artistic mindset after the second World War.

In the archaeology section of our stand one of the highlights is the fragmentary Pharaonic bust of the Ramesses II period. The majority of sculptures of his reign – baffling in their varied quality and styles – have been found on Upper Egyptian sites and were probably prepared at Aswan and Thebes, hence the use of the extraordinary Aswan pink granite.

Vldimir Kagan’s Contour Side Chair from the 1950’s combines a smooth and fluid frame with a comfortably reclining seat. Influenced by Vladimir’s father’s preference of the Bauhaus aesthetic, he would always adhere to certain elements of the Bauhaus in his designs, the most important being “Form follows function”.

masterpiece london 2016 Axel Vervoordt gallery

Axel Vervoordt at Masterpiece London 2016. ©Axel Vervoordt

What makes a masterpiece and what does the word mean to you?

A ‘masterpiece’ is a work that stands out for its authenticity, its original character, its historical value and its craftsmanship. The quality of the fair proves that this is a very well chosen title for it.

Axel Vervoordt gallery at masterpiece london 2016

Axel Vervoordt at Masterpiece London 2016. ©Axel Vervoordt

THOMAS GIBSON FINE ART

London

Picasso Deux nus couches masterpiece london 2016

Deux nus couchés by Pablo Picasso 1972. Coloured crayon and wash on paper. ©Thomas Gibson Fine Art Ltd

Tell us something about your gallery?

My father founded the gallery in 1969. We deal in impressionist and classical 20th century paintings, sculpture and works on paper with selected contemporary works.

Why do you exhibit at Masterpiece London 2016?

It’s a really lovely fair to exhibit and to visit! I have done a variety of art fairs all over the world and Masterpiece London is the one I probably enjoy the most and we always meet new and interesting people.

What are the highlights of your stand this year at Masterpiece London?

A definite highlight is our 1964 unique sculpture by Barbara Hepworth carved out of teak. She is having a long overdue  resurgence and her recent show at the Tate was great – our work was exhibited at her solo exhibition at the Tate in 1968.

Barbara Hepworth Menhirs masterpiece london 2016

Menhirs by Barbara Hepworth 1964. Teak. ©Thomas Gibson Fine Art Ltd

What makes a masterpiece and what does the word mean to you?

Not an easy question to answer as I think it is relative and to an extent a matter of opinion – I suppose something that illustrates an artist’s style and skill to the best of their ability.

What’s your tip for the budding collector?

Look and look and when you find something you like don’t be afraid to make the jump. I think people more often than not regret what they didn’t buy more than the works they did.

Rosalia Lameerei by Brigid Edwards masterpiece london 2016

Rosalia Lameerei by Brigid Edwards 2007. Watercolour on vellum. ©Thomas Gibson Fine Art Ltd

Masterpiece London is the capital’s leading fair for art, antiques and design. Every visit to the fair is an opportunity to make discoveries.

Image: Grivou Coucou by Jean Dubuffet 1962. Gouache on paper. Detail. ©Thomas Gibson Fine Art Ltd

WHERE NEXT?

stay connected and don’t miss a beat with our ever growing online communities

Like what you've read? Click to become a member and get new articles straight to your inbox
Interiors - Design - Architecture - Art - Travel - Lifestyle
The latest and greatest trends, interviews, inspirations and more
Find it all on the GDC interiors Journal

back to top button

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This Story