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.

Barfleur with Campbell de Salis chez Artmonger JH

Coat of arms, Barfleur

This weekend, Campbell De Salis (aka Fiona Campbell and Rodolph de Salis) had the pleasure of a weekend sojourn to Barfleur, Normandy at the kind invitation of artmonger JH who resides in a beautiful house on the harbour front packed with curious treasures and artworks.  


A charming and dare I use the word ‘unspoilt’ harbour village that was the principal port of the medieval Anglo-Norman Plantagenet Kingdom. Point of departure in 1066 for the Normans to the Battle of Hastings and in 1120, The White Ship carrying Prince William, the only legitimate son of Henry 1 of England went down outside the Harbour causing chaos in the monarchy.  According to reports (possibly from the only survivor, a butcher from Rouen named Berold, the crew had imbibed rather alot of Calvados).


Artist, Paul Signac(1853-1935) had a house in Barfleur.  In a letter to his friend and art collector Gaston Lévy, Signac wrote: ‘The port has enough hustle and bustle about it, and is lined with houses of a handsome and pure architecture. The countryside around is magnificent and very wooded, and the terrain is rolling. It’s one of the high spots of France: the sea is beautiful and the gardens are full of flowers’.


Indeed Barfleur was to provide a cornucopia of delights, from the glorious residence and inside knowledge of our host and his trusty companion Clemmy the sheepdog, to the flea market, fishermen, medieval buildings, fruits de mer,  the ferry journeys (of course) and visit to the Chevalier in Cherbourg… 


The ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg provided plenty of entertainment before we were picked up by our host, JH and Clemmy for the short (25K) journey to Barfleur.

Departure from Portsmouth, a passenger ferry crosses our wake.
Rodolph sporting a fine tabard.  He takes his health and safety on board seriously.
Barfleur harbour.
Clemmy (r) and chum

JH taking photograph of Campbell de Salis from outside his residence.
JH collection of crucifixen (jcs carved out of bone hence upright arms) with stapled
together plate in background ‘Dans un amoroux delire. On peut tenter, tout dire’…

JH residence
JH residence
Saint de Salis (r) in JH residence
As luck would have it, the Barfleur ‘Vide Grenier’  (literal translation ’empty attic’, flea market, car bootie) set up on our doorstep.  The next Vide-Grenier is on Sunday 24th July 2011.
Vide-Grenier on the harbour front.

Campbell de Salis in Action.


The Belgian,  Jacques Brel wrote and recorded his songs almost exclusively in French.
The item on the right was on sale for 1 euro… 
Barfleur’s principal resource is its fishing.  The Barfleur white mussel is one of the most sought after in France.
‘Mini cuisine vapeur’… 
Le vendeur.
Les chapeuxs.
Rodolph looking resplendant in French chapeu.
Chopin, the bassett hound.
Bassett hound, name unknown.
Le chat.
Les moines.
L’amour.
Le mur.
The church of St Nicholas, Barfleur.  It took 223 years to build starting in 1650.

Once the grenier-vide finished there was time to explore the local environs.

Clemmy, our trusty companion.

Before the war this used to be a sandy beach.

Entrance to the harbour.  
Les bateaux.
A handsome potter resides in Barfleur which is renowned for its house plaques and roof tiles known as ‘epis de faitage’ or roof statues.  If you are favoured by said potter you may be lucky enough to have a custom made statue often a bird on your roof.
No 26.
No. 26. This one bears a striking resemblance to our dear Prince Philip…
Les fleurs de Barfleur.
Crustacean.
The pink house.
Back at the residence…
JH and Rodolph discuss preparation of the fish purchased from  the harbour.
Sole on mosaic table, creation by JH.
The aftermath of the artichokes.
On the way to our return ferry JH kindly took us to the Chevalier where I purchased some horse steak and horse sausage on order from my friend Craig Hunt who has a superb food blog.  Here’s a link to his entry which has a good explanation of the history of horse eating.   http://maddogtvdinners.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/horse/   

Fiona outside the horse butcher.  Photograph by Rodolph de Salis.
Certificate awarded to the Chevaline de Cherbourg by the Confrerie Cassine des Chevaliers de Saint-Jacques.
The steaks are cut by our friendly butcher.
We were kindly offered some of the red horse sausage, a bit like liver sausage .  Just in case you’re in doubt of the provenance of the meat there’s a picture of a horse on the label.
Horse sausages or chipos / short for chipolatas.
Rodolph was rather envious of this couple with their travel scrabble, very practical for those bumpy journeys.   
We did however have plenty of things to keep us occupied on the sea voyage.
Rodolph found himself a prime seat with a superb view.
Rodolph masquerading as commuter back in the smoke.  Waterloo Station.

On return to London I took one of the horse steaks and sausages to my chef friend Charles Merrington who was celebrating his birthday with a barbecue.  Hot debate ensued and some party goers thought I was ‘taking them for a ride’… Alas I did not get to try the horse as Charlie’s fellow chef, Ruben put it to one side for concentrated degustation the following day.  He had never tried horsemeat before.

Day 4 – Venice Biennale

Fiona Campbell and Rodolph de Salis with Song Dong installation.
Photograph by Fiona Campbell
Still Life, San Samuele.
Detail of sculpture by Luca Francesconi ‘non operative electric hot plate’ in the context of marble, bronze,iron,
objects of chinese production, variable dimensions.
One of a collection of public waste paper baskets.
Detail of the Arsenale, electrical fitting.
Argentinian contribution at The Arsenale.

Day 3 Venice Biennale

Milanese offering.  Hat by Victoria Grant.
Front door of the Palazzo, location of very exclusive birdsnest party at which most of the guests arrived by boat.
View through the window of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.
Koen Vanmechelen’s Chicken, part of the CCP / Cosmopolitan Chicken Research Project.http://www.koenvanmechelen.be/
“After so many generations, I started noticing the diversity on the surface, what made we wonder. And so, together with a team of scientists, we jumped inside the chicken.”  Koen Vanmechelen
Narrow House, 2010, Erwin Wurm Austria.
This lady was sitting on a bench with a bucket on her head singing.  Art?  discuss…
Artist Performer applying ice to the buttocks of his victim who had been whipped as he circled the pole. 
This was accompanied by an ‘art’ rock band and men in suits melting glass bottles in a furnace.
Part of the Chinese offering at The Arsenale by Yang Maoyuan
Party goer awaits water taxi in her stilettos… probably on the way to the Bauer Hotel.

Day 2 Venice Biennale

 

Further planning in the relaxing surroundings of the Italian Pavilion…


Outside the USA Pavilion, a runner jogs on the treadmill for 15 minutes every hour.
artists: Allora and Calzadilla, athlete: Sadie Wilhelmi.
Photograph by Fiona Campbell.
Fiona wearing Victoria Grant, Balloon dog: Jeff Koons, Photograph: Rodolph de Salis.
Fahrad Moshiri: ‘Life is Beautiful’ on display at the Palazzo Grassi.

Venice Biennale 2011 – day 1


Fiona Campbell studying the form before the onslaught.
Grayson Perry’s stupendous ‘Walthamstow Tapestry’ shown as part of the exhibition ‘Penelope’s Labour’, Island of San Giorgio Maggiore until 18 September 2011.
Grayson Perry
Andrea Rose, commissioner of the British Pavilion

‘the fanatics, the fixated and the foolish’ BBC news…

Which do you consider yourself to be…?  Fanatic, fixated, foolish or none of the above.

Just happened to be passing by Bucklebury, home to Kate Middleton on the way back from my easter ‘break’…  The paparazzi got their buck / shot as Kate and a police protection officer left the family pad in the hamlet of Chapel Row.

The village has morris dancing, plasma screen,  champagne tent and more.  David Cameron will indeed be in tails, Fergie is out of the country, Tony Blair will not be in attendance, the ‘living avenue’ of 20 foot maple trees is installed in Westminster Abbey and the world’s media is poised for history in the making…  The Daily Mail leads with ‘Kate wears jeans for the dress rehearsal…’
Goose egg from Kate’s family butcher, the Bladebone Butchery.    Sue Fidler, wife of butcher,  Martin who has known Kate for over 30 years will be wearing a ‘fascinator’.  They are both thrilled to have been invited to the event.
It was worth the wait for the photographers at the end of the Middleton’s drive…
Rodolph de Salis paying pilgrimage to the village of Bucklebury, home of our future queen,  Kate Middleton.
Rodolph de Salis at home with the paparazzi at the end of the Middleton drive.
Several thousands of pounds of equipment ready for the ‘big shot’…