Art World in Review

Article excerpt

From June to July each year the London art market enters one of its busiest periods with the opening of numerous fairs, the major auctions at Sotheby's and Christie's, and the increasingly successful Master Paintings and Master Drawings Weeks. The relationship between dealers and the academic and gallery world is an important and necessary one and these events provide an excellent opportunity to build these relationships. It is also an unparalleled opportunity to keep your eye in while looking at the vast array of works of art on offer.

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Art Antiques London 9-15 June

This fair is wonderfully situated, nestled at the base of the glittering Albert Memorial in Hyde Park. Can location affect the success of a fair? It certainly helps, and the atmosphere this year was relaxed and happy between dealers and patrons. This extended from the first day to the very last, a sure sign that business was brisk. Time is always well spent at the stand of Timothy Millett who has a fascinating array of medals, cameos, theatre tokens and weird and wonderful commemorative pieces of primarily the 18th and 19th centuries. Among the most interesting items are the love tokens given by convicts to those left behind at the time of deportation to Australia. The subject is the focus of an excellent and thorough book co-written by Timothy Millett and Michele Field and available at 15 [pounds sterling] (Pl 1).

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Among the most outstanding stands was that of Sims Fine Art who took the opportunity to present a range of oils and elegant drawings by Cyrus Cincinnati Cuneo (1879-1916), 'an American in Paris ... and London'. From a decidedly working-class background, Cuneo funded his dream of becoming an artist through a successful boxing career, which he continued in Paris after he enrolled at the Academie Colarossi in 1896. He was also accepted into Whistler's newly formed academy in the Passage Stanislas and was later chairman of the Langham Sketching Club in London. The drawings were wonderfully elegant and reasonably priced, no doubt aiding their quick sale. Featured are two works from the artist's time in Whistler's studio (Pl 2, Pl 3).

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Olympia Fine Art and Antiques Fair 9-19 June 2011

This is certainly a fair in transition, finding its way again after a change from the organizers of last year to Clarion Events this year. The upper gallery of this previously overwhelming fair has been done away with, which certainly helped prevent visitor burn-out. The atmosphere on the last day was rather subdued, although some of this must be attributed to the fact that everyone is exhausted after a very long fair. The most interesting stand was that of Lucy Johnson, who juxtaposed her modern British works of art, sculpture and ceramics with 17th century English and Continental oak furniture. It worked wonderfully well and was an obvious draw for fair attendees. Nicholas Bagshawe Fine Art exhibited an intriguing work by Edward Halliday (1902-1984) entitled Hypnos, completed during the artist's time as Rome Scholar in Painting at the British School in Rome 1925-28. Among the models identified to date are Halliday's colleagues and teachers at the School, Robert Longdon, Robert Lyon and Arthur Smith. The work was priced at 45,000 [pounds sterling] (Pl 4).

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Masterpiece 30 June-5 July 2011

After a successful premiere last year there was a rush for stands this time around. The fair, set in the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, brings together a wide range of top dealers and included a much greater percentage of picture dealers this year. Those displaying British works included James Harvey British Art, Philip Mould Ltd, Offer Waterman & Co, and Agnew's. The latter had an exceptional portrait by Allan Ramsay (1686-1758) of Sir William Guise (1737-1783), 5th Bt of Elmore Court, Gloucestershire. …