Easter Sunday at the Tower of London

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Yeoman Warders in State dress.

On Easter Sunday I had the honour of being present at the Tower of London for one of three annual State Parades (the other being at Whitsun and the Sunday before Christmas) when the Yeoman Warders escort the Governor from Queen’s House in scarlet and gold State dress to the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula.  An excellent Easter Day service and chocolate for the congregation on departure!

The State dress uniforms which are only worn on State occasions date from 1552 comprise a knee length scarlet tunic, breeches, stockings and a round brimmed hat called a Tudor bonnet.  Queen Elizabeth I introduced the distinctive neck ruff.  Their tunics display the thistle, rose and shamrock (emblems of Scotland, England and Ireland) and the initials ER (Elizabeth Regina).  They are armed with a sword and partisan with the gaoler (on this occasion acting gaoler Yeoman Serjeant Bob Loughlin) carrying the ceremonial axe.

There are currently 37 Yeoman Warders residing at The Tower all of whom have served a minimum of 22 years with the Armed Forces and have received a long service and good conduct medal.  They are not to be confused with the Yeomen of the Guard (whose State dress is distinguished by cross belts worn from the left shoulder).  For every day dress the Yeoman Warders wear dark blue and red ‘undress’ uniform.

Governor Colonel Richard Harrold OBE inspects the Yeoman Warders before the State Parade to the Royal Chapel

Governor Colonel Richard Harrold OBE inspects the Yeoman Warders before the State Parade to the Royal Chapel.

Chief Warder Alan Kingshott with the mace which is carried on ceremonial occasions.

Chief Warder Alan Kingshott with the mace which is carried on ceremonial occasions.

The Governor leads the Yeoman Warders to the Chapel Royal for the State Parade.

The Governor leads the Yeoman Warders to the Chapel Royal for the State Parade.

The Reverend, Roger J Hall MBE awaiting the arrival of the Parade before the Easter Sunday service.

The Reverend, Roger J Hall MBE awaiting the arrival of the Parade before the Easter Sunday service.

The Yeoman Gaoler carries the ceremonial axe into the Chapel.

The Yeoman Gaoler carries the ceremonial axe into the Chapel.

Yeoman Warder.

Yeoman Warder Jimmy James.

State dress detail. 'Dieu et mon droit'.  This is the motto of the British Monarch in England meaning literally 'God and my right'.

State dress detail. ‘Dieu et mon droit’. This is the motto of the British Monarch in England meaning literally ‘God and my right’.

State dress detail.  Leather shoes with red white and blue rosettes.

State dress detail. Leather shoes with red white and blue rosettes.

After the Parade.

Yeoman Warder, Jimmy James.

Finely dressed member of the congregation.

Finely dressed member of the congregation.

Good to see spats being worn by congregation member.

Good to see spats being worn by congregation member.

Yeoman Warder (left) wearing the navy blue and red undress uniform.

Yeoman Warder (left) wearing the navy blue and red undress uniform.  State dress (right).

Cast iron 12 pounder gun, probably Flemish, dated 1607.  Carriage, British 1827.

Cast iron 12 pounder gun, probably Flemish, dated 1607. Carriage, British 1827.

The Tower of London is one of the most popular heritage sites in the country attracting over 2.5 million visitors last year.

The Exhibition ‘Coins and Kings: The Royal Mint at the Tower’ opens on May 24 2013.  http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/

Photographs are the copyright of Fiona Campbell rubyslippersphoto.com and may not be used without permission.

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.

‘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’…


Cheese

dsc9328-2Alex James with ‘Muldoon’s Picnic’ cheese.
Please note this image is the copyright of the author, Fiona Campbell and may not be used without permission.
This week was spent editing images from the British Cheese Awards. Comissioned by Alex James (musician and cheese maker) Craig Hunt and I arrived at Alex’s farm in the Cotswolds with the daunting task of photographing 900 varieties of British cheeses entered for the British Cheese Awards over two days.

A marvellous experience. Some delicious cheeses and eventful portrait session with Alex in a field of bullocks who came charging (well trotting) towards us. I sat back into a fresh cowpat which added to the relaxed and spontaneous atmosphere of the shoot…

Particular thanks goes to our able assistants Rory and Max and to Juliet Harbutt, the doyen of the cheese world for accommodating us on this ambitious project. Will keep you posted on the record breaking catalogue of British cheeses. 90 remain to be photographed.

Here’s a link to a slideshow of a very small selection of the cheeses.
http://rubyslippersphoto.com/cheese/index.html