London Art Week Summer Reports Healthy Sales – Arts and Collections Internationalby August 23, 2022
Sales at London Art Week Summer 2022, running from 3rd-8th July, were reported to be healthy, with many dealers reporting good footfall and a good number of private collectors, new and existing clients, in attendance.
Museum curators very much in evidence, particularly from the USA, as well as private buyers attending the dealers’ shows. Thirty-four galleries and auction houses took part in this Summer 2022 edition, including Nicolás Cortés who travelled from Spain to exhibit. The organisers chose Music & Dance as a thematic link for galleries to contribute to, and introduced a series of thrilling string trio recitals by the renowned Philharmonia Orchestra in collaboration with Cromwell Place.
LAW held an official opening night party on Monday 4th July hosted by Stephen Ongpin Fine Art which attracted more than 160 guests, who were able to enjoy three floors of fine drawings, including SOFA’s Settecento Veneto: Venetian Drawings of the Eighteenth Century exhibition for LAW. It was an exciting way for clients and the art community to gather together again in a sociable fashion and the event got the week off to an enjoyable start. Many other galleries also held events for this Late Night of the week.
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Of greatest importance for many dealers was the return of the museums and institutions; representatives and curators from the USA were out in force, many having been prevented from travelling to London’s Old Master art season since 2019. These included the Metropolitan Museum of Art NY, Cleveland Art Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Princeton University Art Museum, J. Paul Getty Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, The Morgan Library and Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Hispanic Society of America.
From the UK and Europe, curators from the Rijksmuseum, the British Museum, and the Ashmolean were also visiting.
Sales were strong as the week commenced, with many dealers reporting good footfall and a good number of private collectors, new and existing clients, in attendance.
Among early sales was at Charles Beddington Ltd who sold Carnival in Rome, a watercolour painting by Carl-Friedrich-Heinrich Werner (1808-1894), shown as part of the LAW Summer Music & Dance theme, with an asking price of £8000 to a private collector.
Stephen Ongpin Fine Art has already made a number of good sales at prices well in to six-figures from its LAW exhibition Settecento Veneto: Venetian Drawings of the Eighteenth Century including a charming caricature by Giambattista Tiepolo, and sales from additional displays in the gallery.
“We have had interest in several other works in our LAW exhibition,” adds Stephen Ongpin, “including from museums. There has been a steady stream of visitors, including fresh faces who have found us using the LAW map, which we’re delighted by. It was wonderful to be able to launch LAW at our new gallery in Mayfair, and we made several sales throughout the week, with reserves on other works. All in all, I think it can indeed be said that London Art Week is back.”
Trinity Fine Art, exhibiting Sacred & Profane: Italian Terracotta Sculpture from the 16th to the 18th centuries with Walter Padovani, reported a busy week including visits from new people as well as museums, and are pleased with interest.
Lowell Libson, of Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd, reported a number of sales of drawings to both private collectors and museums buyers, with further works on reserve. “We have also sold a major 18th century portrait by George Romney [Mrs. Margaret Smith, 1777] for a significant six-figure sum. Amongst the drawings we sold were a fascinating Grand Tour drawing by Pietro Fabris as well as two outstanding watercolours by Cornelius Varley. These were acquired by American collectors at prices between £20,000 and £40,000. We have also had interest in our newly-discovered Joseph Wright of Derby, and reserved a couple of significant works for major US museums.”
Lowell added, “It has been a constructive week for us, and marvellous to see the community being active and social once again.“ The Romney, an important work, was being shown by Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd for the first time since it was last with Lowell Libson in 1997, and it went to an American collector. “We were delighted to see many of our clients back in London after a long absence and to welcome them to our new gallery. There is, undoubtedly, a real appetite for exceptional works.”
Ben Elwes Fine Art were delighted to sell a bronze Cast of the left hand of Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849), c. 1850, by Jean-Baptiste A. Clesinger (1814-1883) as a direct result of a LAW editorial preview in Country Life magazine. Rachel Elwes said: “We had one painting reserved by a UK institution and visits from several museums, including Minneapolis Institute of Art, Cincinnati Art Museum and the Getty.” She went on to say “The London Art Week platform was the perfect place for us to meet new clients and reconnect with our existing audience.”
As a Board Member of LAW, Rachel Elwes also commented on the Music & Dance theme of this Summer’s iteration: “The dynamic concert series and partnership with Philharmonia Orchestra and Cromwell Place was an unrivalled opportunity to celebrate the arts in London.”
Miles Wynn Cato, showing at Cromwell Place, reported sales from his exhibition which featured fourteen important new discoveries in British 18th century art. These included a previously unknown portrait by Joan Carlile (c.1606-79) of Abigail Stephens (1628-1688) later Lady Edward Harley, whose son Robert Harley became 1st Earl of Oxford, with an asking price of £12,000 and a Suffolk landscape chalk drawing by Thomas Gainsborough, asking price £4500. Joan Carlile was painting professionally as early as the 1630’s; as such, she is lauded as the first professional female painter in England for whom a body of work survives.
Harry Gready at Benappi Fine Art, where The Pull of Paris: the city’s attraction and influence on artists throughout Europe illustrated the effect of Matisse’s art academy on artists from Nordic countries and Italy in the early 20th century, said museums visiting enjoyed the show, which also attracted members of the international art trade as well as private collectors.
Guy Peppiatt Fine Art, with a Summer exhibition of drawings and watercolours, had a good LAW week with museum visitors from the USA, and new private buyers visiting the gallery. He was happy with sales, including a beautiful large watercolour by Peter de Wint (1784-1849), On the river Esk looking towards Whitby, Yorkshire, which went to a private collector, at an asking price of £25,000. He also has several works on reserve for museums.
Will Elliott of Elliott Fine Art reported several sales from his exhibition Paintings: 1850-1900 hosted at Colnaghi, including a work by Juana Romani (1867-1924), the French Romantic artist whose life ended in tragic circumstances and whose oeuvre is once again rightly being fêted, to a US institution (asking price £60,000). Further sales include portrait studies by Louise Abbéma (1853-1927), with an asking price of £15,000, and Henri-Joseph Dubouchet (1833-1909), Portrait of a man (Bohêmien), asking price £18,000, both to European collections.
Good sales have also been made by Colnaghi Elliott Master Drawings, the new collaboration between storied Old Master gallery Colnaghi and Elliott Fine Art, such as a powerful study by Belgian neoclassical painter and engraver Jean-Bernard Duvivier, Head of a Bearded Man (asking price £25,000), an artist currently being rediscovered by institutions – this work went to a museum in Europe. Further sales include a Portrait of a man in a Turban by Magda Nachman (1889-1951), asking price £25,000, to a UK institution, and a beautifully expressive portrait study of a woman by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) drawn on his first visit to Egypt, with an asking price of £75,000. This mesmerising and impactful Orientalist portrait sold to a private US buyer.
Will Elliott said, “The gallery has been busy throughout LAW with visitors who are both familiar with the Colnaghi brand, as well as newcomers brought in by the Colnaghi Elliott drawings exhibition and the array of events on offer. All in all, a brilliant week.”
Sales to museums, which are a major aspect of London Art Week business, can often take months, or even years to be finalised, so the information here is an early report of this Summer’s successes so far.
Stephen Ongpin, Chair of London Art Week, sums up this Summer’s event: “The fine art world and the Old Master market in London has weathered a trying period during the Covid pandemic. However, it is also true to say that most of the collectors in the disparate fields of such pre-contemporary art, such as the Old Masters, remain passionately committed to their collecting focus, and have continued to seek out works of art over the past two years, despite the lack of opportunities to do so in person – either through art fairs, gallery exhibitions or public auctions – until fairly recently. Important older works come to life when seen and discussed in person, and art dealers remain the beating heart of the Old Master market; their scholarship leads to rediscoveries and brings fresh works to the market.
Luce Garrigues, Acting Director, LAW, adds: “The attendance this summer of so many museums and institutions, particularly from the USA, underlines how our international community continues to work most vividly in real life and with our working together to create critical mass, whilst also benefitting from LAW’s exciting digital platform to open a far-reaching window to our world through which anyone can look, listen and learn. London Art Week continues to answer the need for collectors, curators, scholars and dealers to meet and to study and admire several centuries worth of great works of art.”
A number of exhibitions staged for LAW continue through July and in to the Summer, and are listed below.
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