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6 February 2024

Masterpiece Fair 2015

‘Masterpiece’ is a very apt title for arguably the most impressive exhibition from the 25th of June to the 1st July in the Royal Hospital Gardens.  The event now has its place firmly established in the ‘English Summer Season’ as it has assumed the status of the former Grosvenor Fair.  
The exhibition is a real eye-opener for those who visit for the first time; the temporary ‘tent’ both outside and inside has an extraordinary permanence in appearance, no expense has been spared.  It all fits when you see the quality of the stands with dealers including quite a number from mainland Europe and some from the USA.  Last year, I lost count of the 100+ carat diamonds but the eight carat pink diamond was rarer and more expensive, whilst the sale on the opening day saw a Cartier necklace at US$20m. set a bench mark.
This year the stands are largely devoted to three main but broad themes; jewellery, mostly spectacular pieces, overall there were enough gems to gravel a driveway, but there are always some important smaller items from the 1970s during the decade great advances in design were made, led by Grima, Donald, Devlin and Packard.  
The furniture is largely for the grandest of houses and palaces in style, there was everything from the flamboyant gilt Rococo style through to Deco and beyond.  Complementing the furniture were paintings of so many famous artists including our own L.S. Lowry – one caught my eye last year but at £2m. and this year Richard Green is exhibiting no less than 14 L. S. Lowrys.  As to works of art; Wartski will have their usual diverse selection of small Faberge pieces and interior design pieces, delightfully diverse in style, all demanding attention.  
A change of emphasis; Ventura is exhibiting a classic Riva and Maserati are showing a Quattroporte.   
Too many beautiful works of art all around to pick out a selection but the Scoresby Condliff skeleton clock on Ben Wright’s stand has to be on anyone’s list of highlights.  
People watching will notch up a wide circle of familiar faces, last year I noted that I was walking alongside Rod Stewart with his wife as we headed towards the large Champagne Ruinart stand where they had a solitary exhibit; a piece which at a distance looked like a blonde wig large enough for a Hippo, but in a style not unlike Rod Stewart’s hair.  Penny Lancaster maybe had similar ideas and headed straight for it.  
No museum I have visited has such a range and diversity of style as Masterpiece, certainly the quality could not be matched.  The people tending the stands were approachable despite their appreciation that I was not in the market for their treasures.