Anyone who has seen Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s David in the flesh will know that standing in front of a masterpiece is a transformative experience. There’s something incredibly humbling about viewing an object that represents a life’s work.
The Masterpiece London fair is probably the only place on earth where you can not only gape in awe at one-off historical and contemporary artefacts, but buy them, too. The Royal Bank of Canada is sponsoring the sixth annual showcase, which opened yesterday at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Last year, the week-long market generated over half a billion pounds worth of art sales and the organisers hope to beat that total this year, offering museum-quality works from over 150 galleries worldwide that span over 4,000 years of art history.
“The eight days when Masterpiece takes place is the epicentre of the art season in London,” says chief executive Nazy Vassegh. “After just five years, it’s now firmly regarded as both a leading international art fair and a welcome addition to the summer season in London.”
So what is there to buy? Notable British works include a collection of 13 pieces by Laurence Stephen Lowry, a late JMW Turner watercolour titled “A view over the val d’Aosta” painted in 1836 and works by Barbara Hepworth to coincide with her show at Tate Britain (turn to our Going Out section on page 46 for our review).
New York-based jewellery dealer Siegelson has travelled across the pond to exhibit a pair of earrings containing pearls as seen on the last Empress of France, Eugenie de Montijo, in a painting hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Long-Sharp Gallery of Indiana has also brought “The Socialite”, a never-before-seen work by Andy Warhol, which he sold to buy his Watts Street Studio.
Other highlights include The Hinton House Strong Box, a rare 17th century, brass bound strong box on a giltwood stand; a mid-19th century centre table decorated with precious stones signed by makers Taprill of Holland & Son London; a rare, 50s-era Italian malachite trumeau dresser from Piero Fornasetti; and a carved dragon made during the Renaissance, in celebration of the year of China and UK relations.
In addition to the antiques, silversmith Puiforcat and jeweller Faberge are hosting salon spaces, the Vanity Fair Lecture Theatre is hosting a series of talks and Steinway & Sons are unveiling their 600,000th piano, The Fibonacci. Champagne partner Ruinart will join Le Caprice, The Ivy Bar, Scott’s Seafood & Champagne and The Mount Street Deli ito provide refreshment.
Masterpiece London 2015 is open until 1 July. Single day tickets are available from £25 at masterpiecefair.com.