Journey of the Busts – Somerset to Hackney Wick. ‘Sottoportego’ at the Schwartz Gallery.

On a recent visit to Somerset I had the pleasure of accompanying Rodolph de Salis to collect nine ancestral busts commissioned from Cliveden Conservation.   The marble originals from the studio of Antonio Canova are of Count Jerome de Salis (1771-1836) and his wife Henrietta (1785-1856), and were made in Rome in 1816.

Jeromes and Henrietta at Cliveden Conservation waiting to be put in the van for their journey to London.

Since their emergence from the Somerset studio, Jerome and Henrietta have had a busy schedule.  They appeared at a de Salis familiy gathering in Sussex,  and until the end of this week are installed as part of Rodolph de Salis’ installation / Label de Salis presents ‘Sottoportego’ at the Schwartz Gallery Project Space, Hackney Wick.

Label de Salis presents 'Sottoportego' at the Schwartz Gallery Project Space.

The Gallery describes his work as such:  ‘Glittering in hyperspace, it is a carte-blanche melange of objects found, purchased and inherited; a festival of re-evaluation, appropriation and juxtapositioning. The installation blurs the boundaries between gallery, living and storage space. A cornucopia of objects ranging from paintings, antiques, flags, swords, boxes, books, furniture, exhibition catalogues, vinyl records and a myriad of collected items occupy an ambiguous territory whereby objects double as improvised household fixtures and collecting overlaps with personal domestic habits and hoarding tendencies. In short, we are immersed in a space rich in contradictions investigating the role of the viewer, the artist and the gallery as well as the value of art.’

'Sottoportego' detail. Busts, Versace 12" plate, 'Tresors de la Mer', Polaroid Swinger II camera, Arsenal flags, Tennis net belonging to Rodolph's grandfather, last used circa 1970.

Detail of 'Sottoportego' H.M. The Queen, Oil on Canvas by Vinny Reunov, tennis net.

Detail of 'Sottoportego' showing 'Let your imagination run wild', oil-on-canvas, by Vinny Reunov; a Francis Upritchard/New Zealand tote bag; the Lake of Nemi; corked Riesling as skirting board decorative device; rat collaboration piece in laptop bag; totem to my neighbours (eight Hebrew boxes stacked); Arsenal flags from a game they lost 1-3; a good copy of a Reynolds in the Tate; a tennis net last used in 1970; an ivory figure of a praying saint.

Mirror ball in silver plate disc, Jerome in balaclava.

Detail of 'Sottoportego'. Loutoff Mannequin.

Rodolph de Salis 'Homage to Richard Hamilton, Thomas Struth and David Shaw' from the A-L-L-O-T-M-E-N-T-S group show also in the Schwartz Gallery.

A visual cornucopia of intrigue, family history, personal and found items. My favourite being a stack of Hebrew hatboxes in the corner entitled ‘totem to my neighbours’,  meccano and silver forks displayed on the walls, a frying pan containing a rat nest (rat absent) from the house where Rodolph grew up, a collection of jelly moulds,  the self assessment device from the End nightclub (found January 2009 from a large pile of discards on its closure in 2009),  TOTE BAGS from Venice, a catalogue of treasures from Chatsworth and of course the busts who will soon take up their new home in Rodolph’s studio when the show comes down on Monday.

Alas, the fashion for busts seems to have resided.  If however you would like to have a bust made Cliveden Conservation will be happy to oblige.

‘Sottoportego’ closes on Sunday 20th August 2011.  The show is open Thursday (12-6), Friday (12-6) and closing day / party Saturday (12-10pm).

Schwartz Gallery, 92 White Post Lane, London E9 5EN

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.
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.
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.   

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 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.

Monarchy Matters

Long Live the Queen!

A most interesting book by Peter Whittle entitled ‘Monarchy Matters’ was launched this week at the offices of the New Culture Forum

The book can be purchased from Amazon

Painting by 92 Beaufort Street (Vinny Reunov and U.K.R. in 2000) of HM The Queen reading the 1999 Gracious Speech, being delivered by Rodolph de Salis and Shige Furutami for the launch party.

Turner Contemporary, Margate

Last week saw the grand opening of Margate’s long awaited art gallery TURNER CONTEMPORARY.

On Saturday 16th April, artist historian Rodolph de Salis and Ruby Slippers joined the crowds to catch a glimpse of local artist Tracey Emin and musician Jools Holland opening the doors of the gallery to an expectant public for the first time.

Crowds queue for the 10am opening.
Rodolph de Salis wearing his Tracey Emin hat from the 2007 Venice Biennale.


Tracey and Judy

‘The Victorians built a lot of Margate… much of the amazing architecture has not been preserved.  Grade II buildings have burned down – desolate car parks stand in their place.  What has happened to the beautiful England we once knew?’  Tracey Emin, The Sun

Margate was once the most popular holiday resort in Britain and while there are certainly traces of its glorious past visible between boarded up shops,  discarded empty bottles of vodka and run down Edwardian, Victorian, Georgian and even Tudor buildings it’s a long way from ‘shabby chic’…  There are great hopes that the £17.5 million investment in the gallery will give a healthy boost to the town which has indeed seen better days.  The beach is fantastic, the light and the sky as inspiring as Turner found it to be and while the eccentric mad hatters tea shop found it acceptable to serve canned fish in the crab salad, we had a very fine fish and chips on the beach at sundown.
The gallery was interesting if a little bemusing.  Brian Sewell stated in his rather scathing review in The Evening Standard it ‘might be unnoticeable on the fringe of Heathrow or the outskirts of Slough’ and one of the locals likened it to a fish processing factory.  As for what the building houses, there are 11 major pieces by six contemporary artists in a show which centres around Turner’s  painting ‘The Eruption of The Souffrier Mountains, in the Island of St Vincent’.  Daniel Buren’s black and yellow stripes  ‘Borrowing and Multiplying the Landscape’ framed the beauty of the bay magnificently drawing attention to the wonder of nature.

To have an excuse to visit the seaside and marvel in the art that is nature is for me justification enough for a visit to Margate.   It will be interesting to see how the gallery develops.  Let’s hope it’s not the white elephant that Brian Sewell fears.  Have hope Britain!

Daniel Buren’s ‘Borrowing and Multiplying the Landscape’
Jools Holland at the opening with photograph of himself in Margate as a child.
Gallery goers marvel at Turner’s painting which was the basis for the works of the commissioned artists.
Conrad Shawcross’ works

Daniel Buren’s window
‘Margate’ by James Webb
Work by astrologer/artist Russell Crotty
‘ The most contemptible scribbler I have ever encountered masquerading as an artist’
Brian Sewell,  Evening Standard.
Rodolph’s ancestress Mary (1711-1785) lived in Margate 1767-1770.

The gallery is built on the site of Mrs Booth’s guesthouse where Turner stayed.
artist unknown, Margate
‘Bodies in Urban Spaces’ in Love Lane where Turner went to school.

‘Bodies in Urban Spaces’ by Willi Dormer as performed in Austria in 2007

We seem to becoming increasingly a nation of litter louts… ref. recent report on Countryfile.
artist unknown, Margate
 Tudor house
 “willow” crockery at the Mad Hatter’s Cafe, shame about the tinned fish.

Rare Woolworths shop front over two years since trading ceased.
1896 house 

New and old brickwork
‘Elegy in Salt’.  Unfortunately a dog had got to it before we did.

‘No to Nuclear, Yes to Mother Earth’.
Rodolph with Bumper the bowling rabbit.
Fishing on the end of the pier.
Another bumper outing to Primark.  Amazing what you can get for the price…
One of the few shops on the seafront that remains open.
One of the many art galleries opening in Margate.
Beautiful sculpted ironwork on the seafront.  Metal detector prospector in the background.
Perhaps Catherine and William may come to Margate as the Royals have done in the past.
Rodolph in the Arlington Arcade.
Sign outside the virtually deserted Arlington Arcade advertising the Joke Shop
 ‘Still here, open every day, this is no joke!’
Blaze Kebab has a Facebook page Facebook@blazekebab blaze .

Plenty of opportunity for budding publicans and entrepreneurs.
As Turner said, the skies over Margate are the best in Europe, although being on the east tip of the country it faces west.

As we struggled with the vending machine on departure from the station we were given a tip about how to get two packets of crisps for the price of one from a friendly local chap and boarded the train back to London.

ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT FIONA CAMPBELL, Please do not use without permission.