London’s summer of art 2018 will have the traditional cluster of June and July auctions and fairs providing a welcome focus for traditional fine and decorative arts.
Modern and contemporary art is a fixture of all 21st century art destinations – there are sales in these categories at all of the ‘big four’ auctioneers – but it is the deep knowledge of what came before that gives the London market its specific character.
Celebrating a 300th Anniversary
Anniversaries that provide a convenient hook for museum exhibitions and retrospectives, don’t always have the positive effect on the market that dealers, auctioneers and collectors would like. But this year’s Chippendale 300 initiative marking the tercentenary of the birth of England’s best-known furniture maker, designer and entrepreneur, might be a little different.
Historic houses, museums and craft organisations that own, study and work with furniture by Thomas Chippendale Senior (1718-79) have come together to form a programme of events, the like of which is seldom afforded mere tradesman. Those with an interest in the commercial fortunes of Georgian furniture are reluctant to let the opportunity pass them by.
Christie’s sale ‘Thomas Chippendale: 300 Years’ on July 5 includes the ‘Dundas Sofas’ estimated at £2m-3m each. Source: Christie’s
Christie’s Million Pound Sofas
With only around 600 pieces traceable to his workshop, fully autographed Chippendale furniture is rare on the market (far more numerous are pieces catalogued as ‘attributed to’ or ‘in the manner of’ the great man). So, hats off to both Christie’s who have assembled a sale titled ‘Thomas Chippendale: 300 Years’ comprising 22 lots.
The auction includes two of the famous giltwood sofas from the suite designed by Robert Adam and made by Chippendale in 1765 for Sir Lawrence Dundas. On July 5 the Dundas sofas, last sold as a pair 21 years ago for £1.4m, come up for sale with hopes of £2m-3m each. Lawrence Dundas had paid £410.4 shillings.
Previewing Masterpiece London
Chippendale will also be a feature of Masterpiece London (June 27-July 4) – the self-styled ‘Unmissable Art Fair’ that, now in its ninth instalment, is a second focal point for summer art-buying activity. This year, under new owners MCH Group (parent company of Art Basel) the fair has grown to incorporate 160 exhibitors under canvas in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
That makes it a similar size to Art & Antiques Fair Olympia (June 20-27) that, in its 46th year, forms part of organiser Clarion’s House & Garden Festival.
What to Expect from London Art Week
London Art Week, running at various Mayfair and St James’s venues from June 29-July 6, seeks to emphasise this rich seam of expertise and spotlight the auction houses and commercial galleries as places to learn about art and the art market. Discoveries paint the traditional art market at its most romantic best during London’s summer of art 2018.
Following extensive research by the current owner, this white marble bust has been identified as the lost Bust of Peace by Antonio Canova (1757-1822). It forms part of Sotheby’s July 4 Treasures sale with an estimate ‘in excess of £1m’. Source: Sotheby’s
Sotheby’s Rare Bust
Autograph works by Antonio Canova (1757-1821) rarely appear for sale. However, on July 4 Sotheby’s will offer a bust that – previous thought lost – has not been seen in public since it was shown at the Royal Academy in 1817.
The Bust of Peace (1814) was carved for his first British patron and close friend John Campbell, Lord Cawdor but by 1962, when the contents of the Cawdor family house in Pembrokeshire were sold at auction, the sculpture was simply described in the catalogue as ‘a white marble bust of a lady wearing a diadem’. The present owner also acquired it as an unattributed work.
Christopher Mason, Sotheby’s specialist comments: “Canova marbles are exceptionally rare on the art market. Consequently, estimating the value is not an exact science. We envisage bidding in excess of £1 million.” The last Canova bust to appear on the market, depicting Joachim Murat, King of Naples sold by Christie’s in Paris, took €4.3m.
Christie’s Exceptional Sale on July 5 includes two sculptures originating from the court of Louis XIV. Hercules overcoming the river god Achelous by Florentine sculptor Ferdinando Tacca (1619-86) c. 1640-50 is priced around £5m. Source: Christie’s
In a typical exercise of auction house one-upmanship during London’s summer of art, Christie’s will seek to trump their rivals the following day with two bronzes from the court of Louis XIV. The Exceptional Sale on July 5 includes both a cast of Ferdinando Tacca’s Hercules and Achelous (around £5m) and a reduction of the original François Girardon model of the Sun King on horseback (priced in the region of £7m-10m).
The former was given a gift from Louis XIV to his son, the Grand Dauphin, in 1681, the latter believed to be the lost sculpture from the artist’s own collection and depicted in a famous engraving of the Galerie de Girardon.