The Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair always shows a great range of European art, dating from thousands of years ago up to 20th century modern classics. The show also encompasses furniture, paintings and jewelry and is now even more diverse by offering masterpieces from China and India, too. Naturally, this show is also the first choice for displaying specifically British works.
With thousands of works of art on show, this preview only provides a taste of what to expect. Beginning with the dawn of European civilization—ancient Greece—Rupert Wace’s offering of a Greek amphora from about 500 BC, is decorated in red and black. Dionysus, god of wine, holds a drinking cup made out of a horn, which is a clever reference to the use of this amphora for holding wine. He is accompanied by two figures, and they are framed by floral patterns.
Jumping ahead into the European Renaissance, Philip Mould is offering Portrait of a Lady by Lavinia Fontana, the first woman to be considered a professional artist in the 16th century. The subject of the portrait, dating from the 1590s, is unknown, though she most likely was a prospective bride whose family commissioned Fontana to paint her as part of the wedding negotiations. The details in the dress likely represent fertility, and the string of pearls and flowers in her hair symbolize purity.
Britain’s greatest era for art may well be the 18th century, when the artistic innovations of mainland Europe had been fully absorbed and were then given new wings by the country’s increasing economic prosperity and scientific progress. A notable example is Matthew Boulton, who combined excellent taste and artistic creativity with new industrial processes. A pair of perfume burners circa 1772 show him at his best, mixing classical motifs such as harps and leaves in gilded bronze, with perfectly smooth white marble. They are offered by Ronald Phillips.
All That Glitters
Jewelry is also a major attraction at the fair. Hancocks is showing an English diamond, ruby and platinum brooch in the shape of an orchid. Dating from 1930, it combines the lightness and dynamism of the 20th century with the elegance and luxury of the 19th century.
But for luxury and fine materials no one can beat Fabergé, the great Russian jewelers to the tsars. A highlight at the show is a basket by chief workmaster Michael Perchin, from about 1900. The basket is made from agate. Rather than attempt to outdo nature, Perchin has emphasized the beauty of the naturally occurring stripes of red, white and pink in the precious stone. Then, he has embellished it with gold and gems.
The 20th century saw a complete transformation in the limits of art. British sculptor Henry Moore was one of the many artists who found new ways to express himself in response to a changing world. His Helmet Head No. 3 is inspired by antique helmets the artist saw in museums as a boy. Moore does not use a traditional style but instead reaches out to abstraction, as can be seen from the rounded curves of the helmet and the archway-like mouth. It is on disply with Agnew’s.
Another completely different thread of 20th century art is to be seen in Helmut Newton’s In My Garage, Monte Carlo. Newton was a fashion photographer and he elevated his work to fine art through lighting. His unique, subversive vision of society was inspired by early 20th century German cabaret, but he added a late 20th century aggression. This photograph, celebrating the human form, is a classic.
Grosvenor House Art And Antiques Fair Guide
When: June 11 to 17 Where: The Great Room, Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London Contact: Alison Vaissiere, 44-20-7399-8100; email@example.com; www.grosvenorfair.co.uk
Airport London City Airport (LCY) is the only airport in the center of town. Contact: Andy Baker, 44 –20-7646-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.londoncityairport.com.
Hotel Since its founding in 1906, The Ritz has ranked as London’s most famous hotel. Its sumptuous Louis XVI style interior has been restored over the last 12 years at a cost of $100 million. Its guests have included King Edward VII, the Aga Khan and Charlie Chaplin. Select the 1,689-square foot Royal Suite ($6,900 a night). Contact: General Manager Stephen Boxall, 44-207-300-2221; email@example.com; www.theritzlondon.com
Restaurant J. Sheekey is an excellent fish restaurant right in the heart of London. Enjoy traditional and modern dishes from scallops with cauliflower mash and black pudding, to monkfish and tiger prawn curry. The restaurant started in 1896 and it still enjoys a classic and timeless décor. Contact: Robert Moretto, 44-20-7240-2565; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.j-sheekey.co.uk
Until June 7 “Early Altarpieces,” Louvre Museum, Paris
Until August 23 “Silent Writings,” Espace Louis Vuitton, Paris
May 1 to 5 The International Fine Art Fair, New York
May 3 to October 4 “Pompeii and the Roman Villa,” Los Angeles County Museum of Art
May 5 Impressionist and Modern Art Auction, Sotheby’s, New York
May 14 to 17 Hong Kong International Art Fair, Hong Kong
June 10 to 14 Art Basel, Basel, Switzerland
BY SAMSON SPANIER