It is prime hunting ground for collectables ranging from rare books to antique furniture, and this year 157 international exhibitors will gather in the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea from June 27 to July 3 to mark the 10th edition of Masterpiece London. The impending event has sparked a spirit of collaboration among dealers and galleries, as several are joining forces to share booths and present their diverse specialities in ways that both tempt existing collectors into new areas and find harmony between works, some created centuries apart.
“Masterpiece is very much the key to opening up new horizons to those visitors less familiar with the art world, and our cross-collecting ethos encourages regular guests to broaden their collecting tastes,” says Philip Hewat-Jaboor, chairman of Masterpiece London. Ancient art specialist Safani Gallery and its partner at the fair, Geoffrey Diner Gallery, a postwar and contemporary fine and decorative art specialist, are a case in point. Safani will be offering the marble head of the Venus de Capua, a Roman piece dating from about 150AD for £550,000, while Geoffrey Diner will showcase Helen Frankenthaler’s Cinquecento, an acrylic on canvas from 1985 priced in the region of $2m to $2.7m. The works may be radically different but chime in harmony. “The partnership has provided the opportunity to show collectors how one may live with precious antiquities with ease, alongside fine art and great design,” says Diner. “The ancient and modern play off each other, creating an exciting synergy.”
There are also synergies to be found in the collaboration between Daniel Crouch Rare Books and Les Enluminures (which deals in illuminated manuscripts and miniature works of art from the Middle Ages and Renaissance), who will exhibit together at the fair for the second year in a row – their stand presenting the theme Sapiens: Mapping the History of Ideas, inspired by Yuval Noah Harari’s best-selling book. The former is selling Qianren Huang, Blue Map (from 1811), showing the trade and tribute pathways in Qing China for £400,000, while the latter has The Bybbesworth Hours, a Latin illuminated manuscript from the southern Netherlands, dating from about 1405-1415, for sale at $150,000.
Several of the items for sale in a third partnership at the event will also be curated to show how disparate pieces can be complementary: New York-based SJ Shrubsole, a specialist in silver, jewellery and art, is offering a pair of George III antique English silver wine coolers dating from 1806 for $275,000, which should look striking when placed below Adam Williams Fine Art’s Trompe l’Oeil with a Brace of English Partridge Hanging before a Wall, a 17th-century oil on canvas by Cornelis Biltius, which is priced at £140,000.
Before leaving the show, take the time to admire an artwork born from another creative collaboration – British artist Phyllida Barlow’s sculptural installation in conjunction with Hauser & Wirth, which references the supersized Pom Pom works she first developed in the 1990s.