Published: July 10, 2001
Grosvenor House: Supreme in a Land Where Tradition Reigns
The Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair accomplishes this in spite of its setting at Le Meridien Grosvenor House on Park Lane. The show is dark and cramped with narrow aisles and shallow booths, a far cry from the light, bright halls of vast Olympia across town.
“Grosvenor House is Grosvenor House is Grosvenor House,” explained Peter Schaffer of A La Vielle Russie. Schaffer and Peter Kraus of Ursus Books & Prints are the only American exhibitors in this quintessentially English show, which opened with a private preview on Tuesday, June 12, and continued through Tuesday, June 19.
Measures were taken to spruce up the presentation, which was founded in 1934. Along with Maastricht, it is considered one of the world’s top venues for antique decorative and fine arts. The canopied Great Room, containing about 50 exhibits, was refurbished this year. The plan of the entrance foyer and balcony, which overlooks the tented main floor and contains another 40 or so exhibitors, was redesigned. Room was created for 16 new exhibitors, making the 2001 Grosvenor House fair the biggest ever. Newcomers included Agnew’s, Adrian Sassoon, Rupert Wace Ancient Art, Aronson Antiquairs from Amsterdam, De Jonckheere from Paris and Epoque Fine Jewels from Belgium.
Organized by Alison Vaissiere and in association with the British Antique Dealers Association, the strictly vetted show was well underway by Thursday, June 14, when these photographs were taken. Americans – some combining antiquing with other June events such as Wimbledon, the Henley Regatta or the Royal Ascot races – could be heard above the polyglot chatter on the floor.
But while there many initial sales, both attendance and sales seemed to flag as the week progressed and Americans were not nearly as plentiful as dealers had hoped. For most exhibitors, 2001 was less than a banner year. Professionals chalked it up to the sour American and Asian economies, fears of still worse economic news to come, and media hysteria over Britain’s foot-and-mouth disease epidemic.
“The plane was only two-thirds full when we came over to London, but we also know people who did 20 percent less business at the Basel fair earlier this year. The overall feeling is that business in London was quite down. Nevertheless we’ve made three follow-up sales,” acknowledged Peter Schaffer.
A La Vielle Russie has participated in Grosvenor House for the past seven years and its experience has generally been quite good. A La Vielle Russie featured a pair of Russian Imperial Porcelain Factory double-handled vases of campagna form. Painted with scenes of Dutch interiors, they dated to 1844 and were $300,000.
“The show gets better and better. They’ve added early works of art and a very good silver dealer,” noted Georgina Gough from her station at Stair & Company. The London dealers offered a shell and brass inlaid English games table of padoukwood, most likely from the firm of John Channon, £95,000. A Queen Anne wing chair covered in French needlework was £95,000.
“The attendance has been good so far and the quality of exhibitors and rdf_Descriptions is very high,” Robert Aronson of Aronson Antiquairs in Amsterdam said during the fair. He hoped that his business would benefit by the strength of the American dollar against both the British pound and the Euro. Highlights of his booth included a pair of large blue and white Dutch delft jars with covers marked for Adriaen Kocks, circa 1690; and a fanciful delft wall plaque decorated with figures of royal ladies. Another, a Chinese scene, was shaped like a pagoda.
Witney Antiques of Oxfordshire was enjoying a run on early English needlework. The dealers sold six embroideries, each for five-figure sums, including “Lot and His Wife Fleeing from Sodom,” a superb piece done in colored silks and metallic threads, circa 1620.
A crowd gathered in the stand of Pre-Raphaelite art expert Peter Nahum to inspect “The Heart of the Rose,” a large portrait by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 1889. The £7 million painting is the companion to “Pilgrim At The Gate” at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts.
Ursus Books & Prints offered The Arctic Region by William Bradford for £67,000. The work is the only edition of the foremost book on the Arctic. It was printed at the Cheswick Press in an edition of 350 in 1873.
Of American interest was a complete, original set of Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian. London dealers Bernard J. Shapero and Simon Finch were asking £875,000 for the 20 gold-stamped, leatherbound volumes of 1,505 photographs presented by J. Pierpont Morgan to King Edward VII and subsequently to King George V. Volume one of this series is signed by President Theodore Roosevelt.
Management said an estimated £55 million changed hands in eight days. A rare pair of English five-light chandeliers sold at S.J. Phillips for £975,000 in the first three minutes of trading on preview day. In the jewelry category, Epoque Fine Jewels parted with a diamond pendant thought to represent Sarah Bernhardt and first exhibited at the Exposition Universalle in Paris in 1900.
Sales of furniture and works of art included a James II kingwood table inlaid with a seaweed marquetry panel at Avon Antiques; a Regency drum table at Norman Adams; and an Irish mahogany side table at Harris Lindsay.
Among sales of fine arts was a pair of rare landscapes by the Irish artist James Forrester at Pyms Gallery; a drawing of Queen Victoria with Prince Albert and their nine children at Osborne House, at Christopher Wood; a Joan Miro lithograph and a Matisse drawing at William Weston; a watercolor of a girl with a donkey at Jack B. Yeats, at Waddington Galleries; an Italian marble head of an angel attributed to Nanni de Bianco, at Richard Philp; and a port scene of Trouville by Gervex, at Stoppenbach and Delestre. Agnew’s sold a J.M.W. Turner watercolor, “A Coastal Sunset,” dating to the 1830s.
John Carlton-Smith sold a Charles II bracket clock by Joseph Knibb of London; Anthony Woodburn parted with a long-case regulator clock made by Joseph Finney, Liverpool, 1769, clockmaker to King George III; and Trevor Philip & Sons found a buyer for an Eighteenth Century barometer with the figures of Adam and Eve indicating the weather.
Antiquities sales included an Egyptian diorite block statue from the Saite period, 600 BC, at Rupert Wace Ancient Art; and a large Hacilar Culture storage jar, Anatolia, 3000 BC, at Charles Ede.
Gertrud Rudigier sold several major pieces of Meissen, while Klaber & Klaber placed a large, previously unrecorded Chantilly porcelain Medici vase filled with Vincennes flowers.
Among the 13 pieces sold by W. Agnew & Company on opening day was a mid-Sixteenth Century Venetian maiolica dish painted with a centaur, and a bronze inkwell from Padua or Venice, circa 1600. Adrian Sassoon, who deals in Twentieth Century ceramics and also showed at the Ceramics Fair, sold a cast glass sculpture of the artist’s face by Bruno Romanelli, 2001.
In the category of Oriental art, Vanderven & Vandeven sold a Chinese enamel on biscuit porcelain of a Chinese junk, Kangxi period, for £60,000 to a Texas collector. Godson and Coles placed a Chinese export lacquer bureau cabinet, circa 1790; Ben Janssens sold an archaic bronze covered wine flask, Warring States period; and S. Marchant & Sons found a new home for a pair of Japanese Imari ewers. An identical pair is in the Kurita Museum in Japan. A clear, wavy glass bowl by the contemporary Japanese artist Kilo Mukaida was bought by a collector at C & L Burman.
Grosvenor House this year enjoyed the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who lent racing paintings from the Royal Collection to the loan show “Racing: The Sport of Kings.”
Next year’s Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair is planned for June 12 through June 18.
The International Ceramics Fair Celebrates 20 Years
From 4 am he sat in a folding chair on the sidewalk outside the Park Lane Hotel, listening to classical music on his headset while early morning traffic whizzed by along Hyde Park’s eastern edge. When the International Ceramics Fair and Seminar opened at 11 am on Friday, June 15, he was the first customer through the door. In 40 minutes he was gone again, taking with him the Chelsea cream boat decorated with European figures, the only one known, that he bought from London dealer Robyn Robb. Such is the devotion of many habitual visitors to this show, which rises like a china-laden coil from the faded splendor of the hotel’s silvered Art Deco ballroom to the building’s snug entrance two stories above.
The International Ceramics Fair and Seminar, which continued through June 18, was founded 20 years ago by Brian Haughton, a London dealer in the finest English and European porcelains, and his wife Anna, a former Lloyds executive. The Haughtons’ contribution to the antiques business over the past two decades can’t be overstated. The couple pioneered the model of the top-quality specialty show with serious scholarly content, a template used on both sides of the Atlantic.
Through their four New York shows the Haughtons have broadened American taste, introducing categories of objects – from Dutch Old Master paintings to European porcelains and Southeastern Asian sculpture – that had not been show staples in the United States before. The couple has raised the profile of British dealers in the US, paving the way for international shows in Palm Beach and Dallas.
No one has done more to forge the kind of dealer-collector relations that draw Americans to Britain. Paradoxically, the Haughtons have made it less important for Americans to travel abroad, now that many top British and European dealers can be seen in New York. And the Haughtons have also been adept at involving institutional collectors, both by organizing receptions for curators and by asking them to speak at their fairs.
The exchange benefits all, stimulating museums to buy and private collectors to venture into new fields. This year’s speakers were drawn from the Harvard University Art Museums, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and the Danish Museum of Decorative Arts in Copenhagen, among others. Representatives of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum, and the Ashmolean also attended the show.
The anonymous buyer of the cream boat headed a line that stretched all the way down Park Lane, roughly equivalent to New York’s Central Park South. A spokesman for the Haughton fairs said that the queue took 36 minutes to disperse. More than 1,000 people crowded into the show in its opening hour.
Many American voices were overheard – that of Jayne Wrightsman and Mercedes Bass, among them – and many sales were to American buyers. New York dealer Alan Kaplan of Leo Kaplan, Ltd., explained, “The business is more and more in the United States. Most of the major pieces are staying in America, and the fraction of British collectors to American ones is small.”
The ceramics market is more complex than that though, as Kaplan himself noted. “We find that collectors of Eighteenth Century American furniture have traditionally collected Eighteenth Century English pottery. Europeans who collect Eighteenth Century furniture are more likely to combine it with silver and nice porcelain.”
Chinese porcelains are highly desirable on both sides of the Atlantic, while European porcelains such as Meissen or Sèvres have a much smaller audience in the States.
To a degree, regional tastes are reflected in differences between the International Ceramics Fair and its upstart competition, the New York Ceramics Fair. Managed by Caskey-Lees/Shador and only two years old, the New York Ceramics Fair is closely patterned after the Haughton event. It sets up handsomely at the National Academy of Design on Fifth Avenue, coinciding with the Winter Antiques Show, which ceramics dealers say has declined over the years in its presentation of their specialty.
Top dealers in English pottery show at the New York Ceramics Fair, but there are fewer of the premier European porcelain specialists. Alternately, only three American dealers – Lindsay Grigsby of Chadds Ford, Penn., Leo Kaplan Ltd. of New York, and Earle D. Vandekar of Knightsbridge of New York – take part in the International Ceramics Fair. All three participate in the New York Ceramics Fair as well.
“Both shows have been fabulous for us,” says Kaplan. “There are certain customers who you see at both, and others who we never see in Europe. The New York fair seems to get collecting groups from both Colonial Williamsburg and Winterthur. On the other hand, there are Southern collectors who go to London every year. If you are looking for the high end, you will find some porcelain at Grosvenor House and a few nice things at Olympia, but not to the degree that you will find it at the International Ceramics Fair.”
Forty exhibitors from nine countries set up at the International Ceramics Fair. Most said that attendance and sales were off this year, but none blamed the management. British held to the view that the foot-and-mouth scare had kept overseas buyers away. Countered one skeptical American vendor, “That sounds good for the press, but seeing major corporations laying off thousands of people and companies reporting huge losses may have caused people to take a step back.”
“We’ve done the show for 13 years. Three-quarters of those years have been fabulous,” Alan Kaplan noted. “The last two years have been excellent. We were very unhappy this year. For whatever reason, sales were way off, but it won’t prevent us from going back. Furthermore, we don’t find business bad in New York.”
Brian Haughton, whose canopied stand is one of the first that visitors see on entering the fair, sold a pair of St James’ Factory figural candlesticks, circa 1750. He also parted with a Hochst documentary part-tea and coffee service, dated 1755, for a large five-figure sum, and a rare pair of large ‘Hans Sloane’ Chelsea botanical dishes, circa 1755, for five figures. All three went to American buyers.
The Sèvres porcelain specialists Dragesco-Cramoisan of Paris sold a royal presentation standing cup and cover, dated 1844. The model, called Coupe Cassolette, was created in 1840 by Hans Regnier and was delivered to Queen Amelie. No other surviving example is known.
C. Bednarczyk of Vienna, Austria, sold a piece illustrated in the show’s catalogue, a large armorial vase made by Du Paquier, circa 1725. Also traded was a statue of Saint John of Nepumuk, one of the largest figural compositions of the Manufactory Du Paquier, circa 1731. It had been priced £77,000.
Zurich dealer Ursula Riedi sold Zurich and Meissen porcelain, including a rare Zurich money box, circa 1775, in the form of a dog lying on a cushion, £6,600 pounds. A similar piece is in the Swiss National Museum of Porcelain. Her customers included Americans and a Japanese trade buyer of Meissen.
Woollahra Trading Co. Ltd., of London parted with a pair of Bottger Meissen bottles, circa 1715; Italian maiolica, placed with English and Italian buyers; and a pair of 1754 Vincennes vases, £18,000, also pictured in the catalogue.
The choicest collection of Wedgwood belonged to Lindsay Grigsby, who sold a large creamware footbath, circa 1800, £2,000, and five blue and white Jasperware vases ranging from £5,000 to £10,000 each.
Kensington Church Street dealer Valerie Howard is known Mason’s ironstone and other popular tablewares. She sold an extensive Mason’s service in the “Tobacco Leaf” pattern, circa 1830-35; a part-service of “Britannicus Dresden” Stone China, £15,000, attributed to Hicks and Meigh, Staffordshire, circa 1820; and many individual pieces of Porquier-Beau French faience and Turner’s Patent ironstone in the “Waterlily” pattern, circa 1805.
Sales of Chelsea porcelain included a circa 1750 beaker, £17,000 at Steppes Hill Farm in Kent; and a vase at London dealer Simon Spero, who sold 25 rdf_Descriptions on the opening day.
Red dots broke out all over the stand of English pottery specialist Garry Atkins, where we encountered the familiar face of Lampeter, Penn., ceramics dealer Bill Kurau, on a busman’s holiday. Atkins sold a Queen Anne delft royal portrait plaque, 1702, and had on offer a rare Staffordshire thrown slipware dish with radiating geometric designs, 17 inches wide, circa 1680; a Dutch tile panel showing the British fleet, circa 1800, £4,750; and a Vauxhall stoneware tankard, dated 1726.
Conscious of the changing parameters of the collecting world, the Haughtons have expanded the show’s dateline. Adrian Sassoon, a London dealer in Eighteenth Century Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain, and British studio glass and ceramics, sold Kate Malone pottery priced from £50 to £5,000, plus ceramics by Walter Keeler and Kerry Jameson.
Glass ranged from traditional cut crystal at Mallett, where a large bowl sold for £8,000 and a sulphide portrait of George IV, £7,500, went to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The show’s most contemporary offerings came from Danny Lane, an American glassmaker living in London.
A quarter of the International Ceramics Fair’s exhibitors handles Chinese porcelain. These dealers had stiff competition from exhibitors at Grosvenor House and Olympia, and from the Asian art auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s that directly followed the shows. We can report that Luis Alegria, one of the fair’s several outstanding dealers in export porcelain for the Portuguese market, sold a rare “Archer” underglaze blue cistern together with a cover and basin, after Cornelis Pronk, Qianlong, circa 1740. An “Archer” set decorated in famille rose enamels is in the Rijksmuseum.
Knapton and Rasti Asian Art of London sold several dozen pieces, mainly Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century transitional wares, plus some imperial porcelain. A Tang Dynasty terra-cotta horse in their booth was £42,000.
New York dealer Paul Vandekar parted with a beautifully modeled and highly colored trompe l’oeil terrine encrusted with vegetables and lobster, $10,500. A similar piece, made by Jacob Petit, Paris, circa 1840, is at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
The Haughtons’ next outings will be the International Art & Design Fair 1900-2001, from September 29 to October 2, and the International Fine Art and Antique Dealers Show, October 19-25. Both are held at the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York.
The Hali Antique Carpet and Textile Art Fair
“Textiles are very sexy at the moment. Just look at Hali Fair and all the attention it’s getting,” whispered a spokesman for a rival London show. She was right. When the Hali Antique Carpet and Textile Art Fair opened on Thursday afternoon, June 14 at Olympia 2, it was to a throng of exotically dressed, young English, Italian, and German buyers, with the occasional American present for good measure.
We hadn’t been there long, in fact, when we came upon the Anglo-Pakistani celebrity designer Jemina Goldsmith Khan, fingering Central Asian children’s clothing in the booth of Elizabeth Gibbons, a London dealer whose squirrel’s nest display was lined with Persian purses, Turkish towels and scraps of precious embroidery.
Around the corner we bumped into two well-known American dealers, tribal art specialist Don Ellis and his colleague Ted Trotta. They’d been shopping in Belgium but came back to London for the Hali Fair, which they agreed was stunning.
The most dazzling show in town, Hali has an obvious appeal for younger collectors, who admire the brilliant palettes, graphic designs and painstaking craftsmanship of this painterly art for the floor or wall. From the cosmopolitan patter at Thursday’s private viewing, it seems that Europeans are more familiar with the nuances of the diverse field of antique fiber art.
That’s partly because the United States doesn’t have anything quite like the Hali Fair, something that one prominent American exhibitor, Oriental rug dealer Peter Pap of Dublin, N.H., would like changed.
“I’d love to see this show in New York, perhaps on alternate years,” said Pap, who is known for his rich stands at New York’s Winter Antiques Show. For his London presentation, Pap brought a selection of Nineteenth Century Persian and Caucasian rugs.
Organized by Hali magazine, the fair has grown since its inception four years ago and now occupies two floors of Olympia 2. It continued in the trade-show venue through June 18, coinciding with Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair; the Summer Olympia Fine Art and Antiques Fair, reached through an adjoining door in the same building; and the International Ceramics Fair and Seminar. Two Hali Fair exhibitors – Chinese costumes specialist Linda Wrigglesworth of London and Chinese carpet dealer Sandra Whitman of San Francisco – also participated in Grosvenor House.
The 90 specialists from Germany, Austria, Italy, Turkey, France, Lebanon, Switzerland, Sweden, the UK, and the USA brought goods ranging from African basketry to South American feather weavings, colorful Turkish and Central Asian appliqued ‘suzanis’, Indonesian costume decorated with cowrie shells and coins, Moroccan flat-weave rugs, and European designer carpets.
Hali mounted one of the best loan exhibits we’ve ever seen at an event like this. Two dozen gorgeous and impossibly rare Ottoman rugs, tapestries and embroideries made up “Turkish Carpets & Textiles Before 1800.” The genius part was that everything was for sale, on loan from top Asian specialists such as John Eskenazi, Yves Mikaeloff and Francesca Galloway. We’re told that several rdf_Descriptions sold right away, among them a large medallion Ushak carpet fragment, Western Anatolia, pre-1550, and a Konya long rug, Central Anatolia, circa 1800. Both belonged to Munich dealer Markus Voigt.
Voigt, who brought with him a fascinating collection of Chinese, Ottoman and Persian fragments from a well-known Dutch collection, sold more than 25 pieces, including a Eighteenth Century Kuba long rug, £15,000.
Swedish dealer JP Willborg of Stockholm did well with pieces priced between £2,000 and £7,000. One sale highlight was a mid-Nineteenth Century Anatolian prayer rug, in mint condition, £4,300.
A collector from Texas made Richard Purdon’s day when he bought a blue-ground Shirvan rug, circa 1800, from the Oxfordshire dealer.
Kilims sold steadily according to Michail di David Sorgato of Milan, Italy, who parted with many in prices ranging up to £6,000. A particular standout in his booth was a Bidjar kilim, £4,500.
There was also interest in offbeat Central Asian pieces, such as the rare, early Nineteenth Century Kyrgyszstan saddlebag, one of three known, sold by Thomas Wild of Berlin, Germany.
Hottest of all were Indian textiles. A blue and white Agra carpet, circa 1880, could be seen across the room in the booth of Alberto Levi of Milan. The striking work sold right away. J. Junnaa & Thomi Wroblewski, London, sold an Eighteenth Century Indian embroidered coverlet made for the European market, and London dealer Molly Hogg sold her centerpiece, a printed Lelohor cloth dating from the Seventeenth or Eighteenth Century.
An adventurous few presented African textiles. London dealer Clive Loveless sold a Nineteenth Century ceremonial flatweave cover, made by the Mzab people of Algeria, plus 30 other pieces ranging in price from £150 to £6,000. A Tunisian woman’s mantle went to a Japanese collector for £3,500.
Another London dealer, Joss Graham, placed Cameroon pieces: ten crocheted ceremonial hats sold for £600 to £1,000 each, and a woven cloth, went for £1,500. So as not to overlook the English arts, he also sold an English crewelwork bedspread, circa 1900, for £5,500.
The Hali Fair is noted for introducing new categories each year. The Twentieth Century designer carpets at Oxford Decorative Arts included an Art Deco example by Marion Dorn, circa 1930, sold for more than £6,000.
The next Hali Antique Carpet and Textile Art Fair is planned for June 13-17, 2002.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm