After months of anticipation, Masterpiece London, the new art and antiques fair from the organizers of the prestigious 75-year-old Grosvenor House Fair, received the permissions necessary to confirm that it will take place on 24-29 June 2010 at the Chelsea Barracks.
In spite of the bureaucratic quagmires and delays that these permissions took, those in the know have bet strongly on Grosvenor House’s royal ties to see it through. Last June, Prince Charles succeeded in stopping plans to have the site, owned by the royal family of Qatar, turned into a steel-and-glass modern development. What more approvable use, then, of the historic site than the new venue for the most strictly vetted of London’s art and antiques shows?
Planning permissions aside—can this show deliver the goods with only months to pull it off?
Clock and watch specialist Anthony Woodburn has placed his bet on the fair-although he also plans to show at Olympia, too, in addition to the March fair of the British Art and Antiques’ Dealers’ Association, of which he is a trustee.
Simon Phillips, a founding partner of the new venture, sees the potential to take the best of the antiques’ world’s most venerable show and give it a new twist—with a mix of objects to include sports cars and contemporary jewelry, veteran dealers such as Woodburn confess that it’s the consistent track record of the organizers that drew them in to begin with.
Several core Grosvenor House participants—A La Vieille Russie, MacConnal-Mason, Marchant, SJ Philips, and Peter Finer, who helped to insure that this new, top-tier London show came about—are now joined by others, who were watching to see what would happen. Woodburn, whose participation in Masterpiece came in the second wave, exemplifies a large number of former Grosvenor House exhibitors, who have waited on the fence as the permissions situation played out. He admits that the new show was talked about as early as last July—just weeks after Grosvenor House tolled its death knoll. And he’d been interested in signing on from the beginning—especially noting that the new regime seems, in his opinion, to have taken the best of the old, while opening the fair up to all sorts of new things, that might bring in untapped markets.
Now that Masterpiece has been given the official stamp of approval, the proverbial London fair horses have set off on their race. Which will win the mantle of Grosvenor House… stay tuned… or write in with your thoughts…
Olympia London · 4-13 June 2010 · http://www.lifaf.com/
Masterpiece London · 24-29 June · http://www.masterpiecefair.com/
Art Antiques London · 9-16 June 2010 · http://www.haughton.com/international-fairs/14/fair_pages/art-antiques-london
Image: Marquetry longcase clock by Joseph Windmills, London, c. 1685. Courtesy of Anthony Woodburn.