Events | October 29, 2013

Agatha Christie’s Silver and Mervyn Peake’s Art, Highlights of London’s Fine Art Fair

Mervyn Peake Mother.jpg

The 2013 Winter Fine Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia runs from Tuesday, 5th to Sunday, 10th November 2013 with a Collectors’ preview evening on Monday 4th November 2013. This year, the Fair has aligned its dates with the influential Asian Art in London 2013, further increasing the lure of London as an art and antiques destination at this time of year.

The Winter Fine Art & Antiques Fair is now in its 23rd year. Taking place in the iconic Olympia exhibition halls, it is one of the most important art and antiques events of the year. It showcases classic British design, antiques and art through the ages from the 16th century to modern British. By hand picking the UK’s top exhibitors and keeping the look both glamorous and up to date, the fair attracts a loyal following of leading interior designers and collectors, as well as shoppers looking for more unusual pieces. An eclectic mixture of pieces from delicate glass to sturdy, 17th century oak furniture keeps the event inspiring as well as being a source of the unexpected such as silver Victorian lemon squeezers or Chinese inspired silver mustard pots.

This year the fair will attract 130 exhibitors and 22,000 visitors. The quality of exhibit is kept high by a process of strictly vetting items by a team of industry experts (who check all the items on the stands for authenticity) and by its alliance with the country’s top two trade associations, BADA and LAPADA. 

Among the furniture at the Fair, Sussex-based dealers, Wakelin & Linfield will be offering a set of eight Italian single dining chairs in mahogany, c1800 with an asking price just below £12,000. Also from the same exhibitor is a rare George I bow back Windsor type chair, made of ash, dating from 1720, which has a retail price of £5,950. A well-proportioned continental painted cupboard decorated with landscape and village scenes and sprays of flowers, dating from the first quarter of the 19th century, with paint in untouched condition, has a price tag of £7,950.

Guy Dennler Antiques brings a fine, small Regency mahogany drum table on an elegant gun barrel stem with four splay reeded legs, dating from c1810. Specialist in old oak furniture, Peter Bunting has an open bottom, carved and inlaid oak court cupboard in excellent condition from 1600. Alongside his furniture are some interesting smaller objects such as a signed, kissing putti by Carl Kauba, 1900. In the 20th century furniture arena, Jeroen Markies Antiques has an Art Deco dining table and six scallop-back chairs in sycamore and walnut by Ray Hille, c 1930 (priced at £12,900). Established in London in 1906, the Hille Furniture Company had, by the 1930s, established an international reputation supplying products all over the world. The founder, Salamon's daughter, Ray, joined and took over the business in 1932.

Art, alongside furniture, plays a key part in the Fair and Nicholas Bagshawe Fine Art will be bringing a range of portraits, among other artworks. An unfinished late work by the great Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) - one of England’s most famous portrait painters of any era - is among the highlights. Depicting Wilhelmina Bowlby (1798-1834), she was the daughter of Major-General William Balfour, a former Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick. She married Captain Thomas Bowlby (1790-1842) of the Royal Artillery in 1817 in Gibraltar. It has an asking price in the region of £55,000.

He is also exhibiting a delightful portrait of General Sir Charles James Napier - one of the most illustrious of the British Empire’s military commanders. Napier is remembered particularly for his exploits in India and is almost equally memorable for his highly unusual appearance. This was painted by Thomas Smart fl. 1836-54) and carries a price tag of £13,500.

Haynes Fine Art of Broadway has a fine selection of artworks by artists from the North West of England and North Wales. The Watercolour, Going on a Picnic by Helen Bradley (1900-1979) has an asking price of over £45,000 and a label inscribed “Mother said, let us go for a walk in the Enchanted Garden … So George and I helped Mother … to gather bunches of Daffodils to take back to Grandma … the year was 1908. Helen Layfield Bradley 1973'. Among the works by Arthur McEvoy Delaney is A Manchester Tram at Ancoats, (£12,950), while works by Liverpool-born artist Brian Shields, otherwise known as Braaq include oil painting titled Wheel Race in The Park. A magnificent oil, Snowdonia Peaks, by Sir John Kyffin Williams (1918 - 2006) has a price tag of just under £50,000.

A group of drawings by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) will be brought by Moore-Gwyn Fine Art Ltd including a black and white chalk on brown paper depicting Prince David of Scotland, which was a study for the window at Dundee Free Library and a pencil study of a lying figure, dateable to the early 1870s. They will also be exhibiting three important early sketches in pen and ink by Augustus John showing members of the artist's family.

Gray Modern and Contemporary Art will be offering a selection of the, always popular, fashion drawings including a pencil and watercolour on paper titled Women in Head Scarf by Ernst Dryden (1887-1938). Dryden, one of the finest commercial artists of his generation, was also known as one of the foremost poster artists in Germany. Dryden served as an officer in the Imperial Flying Corps during WWI and began his career as a menswear designer, moving to New York in 1933 and onto Hollywood in 1934.

Harrogate-based Walker Galleries bring an Edouard Leon Cortes (1882-1969) signed oil on canvas titled La Porte Saint Martin, Paris (13x17” framed) showing the city under snow. The French post-impressionist was known as the Le Poete Parisien de la Peinture for his variety of Parisian cityscapes at night and in different weather conditions. Often feted as the master of the modern marine genre, the gallery also bring a signed oil on canvas depicting Velsheda just ahead of Astra with Candida trailing by John Steven Dews (Born 1949) (36x 45” framed).

Silver objects make original Christmas presents and Hampton Antiques has an impressive selection to whet your appetite including a rare silver plate lemon squeezer by famous silversmiths Hukin & Heath of Birmingham, dating from c. 1880, (£2,650). A Coromandel, Satinwood and brass-mounted games compendium could herald a welcome alternative to Christmas Day TV repeats.

Elsewhere, among the Silver exhibitors is BBC Antiques expert, Baggott Antiques, who is exhibiting at a London Fair for the first time. He will be bringing a marrow spoon, c. 1766-68 that constitutes a fine example of the Rococo style in American silver. Dating from the reign of George III, this has been attributed to Boston-based silversmiths Daniel Henchman and Nathaniel Hurd, Boston.

He will also be exhibiting a good selection of early Provincial silver which will include a Liverpool spoon by the first recorded maker (Edward Lewis), a Charles II Worcester tankard by Samuel Richardson (currently the only recorded piece of secular silver by him), a late Elizabethan Bristol dish by Edward Harsell, again the earliest recorded piece of Bristol secular silver, together with pieces from Great Yarmouth, Poole, and a York tumbler cup previously owned by Dame Agatha Christie. In addition, and of German interest, is a set of four candlesticks made for King George I as Elector of Hanover, which have an asking price of in excess of £300,000.

Mary Cooke Antiques is offering for sale a rare collection of silver by the most famous of all British Lady silversmiths, Hester Bateman, whose work is sought after all over the World. Included will be one of her finest pieces; a very rare George III oval Tea Caddy with an artichoke finial, dating from 1786. It has a price tag of £6,500. They will also have a rare selection of George III Tea Caddies on display at the fair. These are highly collected and the selection will include a rare Spitalfields Silk engraved example. An extremely fine and important set of three early George III tea caddies in their original silver mounted shagreen case by London makers Lewis Herne and Francis Butty, dating from 1760 are among the notable pieces in the collection. They are being offered for just shy of £15,000.

There is a vast range of Ceramics and Works of Art at the fair. Kinghams Art Pottery will be flying in with a distinctive Martin Brothers grotesque bird, dated 1900, which has a price tag of £45,000, while Philip Carrol of North Yorkshire is offering a fine and rare marble and ivory carving of a young girl wearing a diaphanous gown. Measuring 22cm high, it is set upon a stepped onyx base, signed Ernst Seger (German, 1868-1939) and has an asking price of £3,950.

Morgan Strickland Decorative Arts brings an Arts & Crafts, Tudric pewter and enamel planter or ice bucket designed by Archibald Knox and made for Liberty & Co, England c1902, which has an asking price just under £3,000, as well as an Art Deco heavy walled turquoise glass vase by Daum of France, dating from the mid 1920s. 

Glass dealer, Brian Watson Antique Glass brings a decanter thought to be by Apsley Pellatt, glassmaker to the royal family in the early 19th century. Probably part of a set and a suite of glass it is an exceptional piece with no part of it un-cut. The Gothic design suggests a date of c1825 - 1830.

Mark J West brings some vintage Hollywood glamour with a collection of six small glasses and five large glasses all engraved with HB from Humphrey Bogart’s private collection. These were given to Bill Rowland Hill after the filming of the ‘African Queen’, as a thank you for all his help on publicity. Unusually the letter is signed Bogie, which Humphrey Bogart only did to friends, and the letter is written on 20th Century Fox paper from Pinewood. The letter reads: My Dear Bill. Before I leave for home I want to say, one big ‘thank you’ from the bottom of my heart for all you have done Publicity wise both on the set, and in Africa. In addition thanks for all the other little things you have done that have helped so much. I wanted to send you some Hootch but on second thoughts I want you to have something to put it in. Will you call at that fancy store (Heal’s) on Tottenham Court Street and see a guy called Gaylard. Choose yourself a dozen glasses from the suite I have had made. They have my initials on them which are the same as yours. Once again sport, thanks a million.

Much of the sparkle that characterises the Olympia hall at this time of year emanates from the jewellery dealers as well as the glass. Anthea AG Antiques deals in fine gem-set jewellery c 1840 - 1940 and sells pieces by Cartier and Van Kleef Arpels in their 20th century heyday. Fellow dealer Sue Brown also sells European pieces as well as Scarab jewellery from 1930s Egypt and some Japanese works from the late 19th century.

There is an increased Asian contingent for the 2013 fair including specialists such as Laura Bordignon Antiques and Paul Champkins and many Asian pieces sold on other exhibitors’ stands. Laura Bordignon brings a Japanese bronze dragon (tatsu) modelled in a coiled position and with its mouth open, Meiji Period. It is 34cm high. One of the twelve Zodiac signs this mythological creature is regarded as a water deity in Japan.

The organisers of the 2013 fair have compiled an interesting lecture programme that includes: Arts and Crafts of India under the Raj; Gilding and woodcarving demonstration; History of the London Tube map - a British design  con and In conversation with the Interior Designer, Alidad.

For more information on opening hours and ticket prices, please visit and follow us on Twitter @WFAAF.

Image courtesy Darnley Fine Art.