Cendrillon – The Royal Opera House

Auditorium, Royal Opera House.

To finish off the season at Covent Garden, The Royal Opera House presents the story of Cinderella in Massenet’s Cendrillon.  Production and fabulous costumes by Laurent Pelly. Conducted by French chief conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony with the great name of Bertrand de Billy.

Quite charming, incredible singing and costumes made from the finest fabrics.  A highlight was of course the opportunity to see my sister, Margaret playing in the stage band – placed in a box with a spotlight.

Curtain Call for Cendrillon, Royal Opera House

Wonderful red and black costumes.

The next two performances are on 13 (when the production will be broadcast nationwide on BP Big Summer Screens) and 16 July.

View of Covent Garden from the roof terrace.

Masterpiece 2011

Adjoining concurrently with the fun and games built around the auction rooms’ main summer sales (as described in previous entry ‘Old Masters Week in London’) was Masterpiece (29 June-5 July 2011). This successor to the Grosvenor House antiques fair (once part of The Season) took place in a rectangular space-ship of a ‘marquee’ that had landed on splendid south lawn of the Royal Chelsea Hospital, a marked improvement on last year’s setting amidst the nearby demolished Chelsea barracks. A child of TEFAF Maastricht Masterpiece is thus both flashier and more Europeanised than its old school Piccadilly predecessor.

Therein one could still find a few impressive Old Masters and some of the best Georgian silver, otherwise the chimera was stuffed with everything one needs from tiaras, Monets, suits of armour, £500,000 billiard tables, custom built Rolls-Royces (Asprey’s jewellery box in the glove compartment included in the price £400,000) to cocktail shakers, and even a sprinkling of Contemporary Art.  

The show featured more than 160 dealerships, some of whom had paid between £40,000 and £50,000 for their stands – not a great outlay for some such as Symbolic and Chase who sold a 1930s brooch with a yellow diamond for more than £1,250,000.

Prince Harry (did he stop for a bellini in Harry’s Bar I wonder?), Uma Thurman, Oprah Winfrey, Sir Elton John and Lord Lloyd-Webber were spotted at what was described by one dealer as ‘A shopping mall for luxury customers’.
A far cry from Westfield, Harry’s Bar provides a comfortable resting place to contemplate ones purchases.
Gallery ladies ready for action.

Peter Finer, Antique Arms and Armour had a fine selection of items on display.  His Gallery is in Duke Street, St James’s.

A North German Field Armour, Brunswick circa 1555.
Provenance. Historic Collections of the Duke of Brunswick
successively at Schloss Blankenburg and Schloss Marienburg.
Price £140,000.
Ciancinimo, specialising in 20th Century furniture and art.  Photograph on wall by Araki. 

The sumptuousness of some of the stands was mindblowing.  Wick Antiques Ltd (Lymington) and Billiard Room Ltd (Bath) shared a stand.  If you are after a canon or half a million pounds of billiard table this is the place to go.

A fine collection of canons available from Wick Antiques.
Rodolph de Salis with striking billiard table that was made for James Blyth, 1st Baron Blyth (1841-1925)
for 33 Portland Place, London. Cox and Yeman, circa 1890.
Gordon Watson (Pimlico Road, London) fine 20th Century furniture, objects and lighting.
Elle Sushan (Philadelphia), fine portrait miniatures.
Interesting display of late 18th Century Portuguese chairs, made in Brazil.
Fine paintings from Philip Mould (Dover Street, London).
Hamiltons Gallery (Carlos Place, London).
Rodolph takes a break.  Left couple making interesting fashion statement.  Shirt by Hermes.
These chaps were having a very busy week.
A quiet moment…

Old Masters week in London

Christie’s sales room, ‘Captain John Bullock’ portrait by Gainsborough (centre) 
est. £3,500,000- £5,000,000.  This beautiful painting remained unsold. 

This week, London is heaving with a host of finely attired art collectors and dealers from all over the world.  July 1-8 is Old Masters Week where 23 commercial art galleries in Mayfair and St James’ are showing off their wares in collaboration with Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonham’s where one has a great and brief opportunity to view some of the most spectacular old master paintings and drawings before they are dispersed at auction.

Christie’s was bustling with excitement and set a record with sales of the ‘Old Masters and British Paintings’ reaching almost £50,000,000.

A highlight at Christie’s was George Stubbs’ ‘Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath’, at a very long 40 x 76 inches – est. £20-30 million it sold for 22.4 million (including commission) which places Stubbs amongst the most valuable Old Master paintings in auction history.  [The most expensive Old Master painting at auction remains ‘The Massacre of the Innocents’ by Peter Paul Rubens which fetched 49.5 million pounds at Sotheby’s in 2002.]

George Stubbs, ‘Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath’

The painting was sold by the Trustees of the collection of the late Lord Woolavington, a whiskey magnate who bought it in 1951 for £12,600.  Christie’s state the the picture was sold due to the high cost of insurance which is disproportionate to the value of the other works in the collection housed at Cottesbrooke Hall in Northamptonshire which is occupied by Woolavington’s descendant, Captain Macdonald-Buchanan.  It is not known if the painting will stay in Britain, the buyer wishes to remain anonymous.

Detail of the Stubbs painting featuring Gimcrack winning a race (R) and his jockey (L).
Jean-Marc Nattier (1685-1766), portrait of Marguerite-Francoise-Bernard de Reims. 
Est. £350,000-450,000.   Unsold
George Romney (1743-1802), portrait of Francis Lind with flute, est. £100,000-£150,000. Unsold.
Then to Bonham’s
Giacomo Ceruti, called il Pitochetto (active Lombardy, 1724-1757) detail of Portrait of a lady, Est, £50,000 – 70,000.
Old Master taken off the wall for closer inspection.

And Sotheby’s

Head Porter with table, Sotheby’s.
Old master being inspected with glasses / ultraviolet light torch, Sotheby’s.

After the auction houses closed their doors to prepare for the evening sales the dealerships of St James’s and Mayfair welcomed art lovers with canapes and champagne for further perusal of artistic offerings as part of Old Masters Week.

Art lovers take a break in the window of Robert Bowman Gallery, Duke Street.
Jean-Luc Baroni, Mason’s Yard.
Arty canapes at Baroni.
Stanley at the door of Åmell’s Gallery, Ryder Street.
The Weiss Gallery on Jermyn Street, specialising in Tudor, Stuart and North European portraiture had a stunning selection of paintings immaculately displayed and lit.
Detail of painting by Jan Claesz (1570-1636), Weiss Gallery.
Portrait of John Wyndham Dalling (1769-1786) by  Philip Reinagle, Weiss Gallery.
Provenance: by descent through the Wyndham Dalling and Meade families of  Earsham Hall, Bungay, Suffolk.
This portrait was commissioned as an aspirational hope for the sitter’s (aged no more than 6 or 7) future military career.  Sadly the boy did not live to fulfil his father’s dreams as in 1786 he died aged 17 of fever in India.  This picture sold at Bonhams for £50,400 including 20% buyer’s premium.  The ticket on the picture at the Weiss Gallery is £150,000.

Last stop on the tour was the Colnaghi gallery on Old Bond Street.  An impressive viewing space indeed.

Colnagi Gallery.
Let’s hope that some of these stunning paintings will remain in Britain.  There is increasing concern that many of these Old Masters being sold are being taken abroad as British titled families offload their treasures to raise funds for repairs to their estates or to meet demands from Revenue and Customs.  Last year Earl Spencer sold £21m worth of art from Althorpe House and in 2010 the Duke of Devonshire raised £6.5m (inc. commission) from his ‘attic sale’ of 20,000 items at Chatsworth House.  It is thought that much of this treasure is going to the Middle East and Asia.  


Overheard in one of the galleries was a middle eastern chap whose criteria was for paintings that were large and old with no nudity. “Don’t show me anything small” he said. 



On the way home some street art by Ralph Lauren who were changing their window display.  Excuse the nudity.

Fiona Campbell with Ralph Lauren mannequins, wearing Victoria Grant hat.
Someone commented that the hat would be worthy of an Old Master.
Photograph by Rodolph de Salis.