Art Mar­ket

Our lan­guage skills may leave much to be de­sired, but art can speak for it­self

Country Life Every Week - - Contents -

Huon Mal­lalieu be­lieves that art can over­come any lan­guage bar­rier

It is sur­pris­ing how of­ten one sees writ­ten in­for­ma­tion trans­lated from one lan­guage to another that cannot have been checked by a speaker of the sec­ond. A sad ex­am­ple at the Maas­tricht fair was the ‘English’ main panel in­tro­duc­ing the loan ex­hi­bi­tion of su­perb Old Masters from the Gal­le­ria Borgh­ese in Rome. It was a painful les­son in the in­ad­e­quacy of Google trans­late and had ob­vi­ously not been checked by a na­tive English speaker.

Some­times, of course, mis­trans­la­tions and lit­er­als can be charm­ing rather than ir­ri­tat­ing. One of my favourite stands is that of Ge­org Laue from Mu­nich, who has ex­cep­tional Re­nais­sance works of art in­tended for col­lec­tors’ cab­i­nets and made from ma­te­ri­als such as am­ber, coral, ivory and rock crys­tal. On the cards for sev­eral pieces, moss agate had come out rather en­dear­ingly as ‘moos’ and one could not de­cide whether it should bel­low or squeak.

One par­tic­u­larly fine ex­am­ple was an 8¼in-high moss-agate cup and cover (Fig 2) with gold mounts and Cu­pid finial, made by Jo­hann Ge­org Koben­haupt of Stutt­gart a cou­ple of years his death in 1623. As dis­played, it seemed to emerge from half of its fit­ted leather case, which height­ened the at­trac­tion. the case was, in fact, French, made for it in about 1820.

My fi­nal se­lec­tion of Maas­tricht ex­hibits for this year —un­less they reap­pear in some dif­fer­ent con­text—are two English wa­ter­colours and a piece by Bouke de Vries, the Lon­don­based Dutch ce­ramic sculp­tor, with Adrian Sas­soon. Daniel Katz has an eye for sculp­ture and works of art that is sec­ond to none and his taste is wide-rang­ing, so perhaps one should not have been sur­prised that he had this 6½in by 9in gem by Bon­ing­ton, co-leader with Delacroix of the An­glo-french School, who was not quite 26 when he died in 1828.

the sub­ject is the Castello at Fer­rara (Fig 3), vis­ited on his 1826 trip to Italy, when he rev­elled in light and colour.

William Cal­low was never quite a pupil of Bon­ing­ton, but, in 1829, he moved into his Paris stu­dio, shared with t. S. Boys, who passed on the in­flu­ence. Eric Gil­lis of Brus­sels had a lovely Cal­low of old build­ings at Bruges, which was in the di­rect line of des­cent from Bon­ing­ton. Cal­low sketched in Bruges in 1844 and 1850 and I sus­pect, be­cause of its del­i­cate han­dling, that this ex­am­ple was rather ear­lier than the dealer thought. Bouke de Vries fea­tured in our March 15 ar­ti­cle on clay and the ce­ramic and glass dealer Adrian Sas­soon was of­fer­ing sev­eral of his pieces, con­structed from shards of smashed ce­ram­ics ar­ranged in glass jars. One was the very ef­fec­tive Mem­ory Ves­sel 44, orig­i­nally a maiolica drug jar (Fig 4).

One of the stars of the BADA Fair at Duke of York’s Square was a paint­ing that had been deac­ces­sioned by the Hunt­ing­ton Li­brary in Cal­i­for­nia, which be­lieved it to be a copy of a Stubbs known to be in a pri­vate col­lect­be­fore

ion. Ac­cord­ingly, the 21½in by 29in Two Hacks, the prop­erty of Henry Ul­rick Reay Esq of Burn Hall Co Durham and their blue-liv­er­ied groom in a land­scape (Fig 1) was con­signed to Christie’s New York, where it was es­ti­mated to $5,000 (£4,028).

It was bought by the Parker Gallery of Lon­don for $215,000 (£173,284) and, af­ter clean­ing, was found to be signed and dated 1789, es­tab­lish­ing it as the pri­mary ver­sion. This was fur­ther con­firmed by pen­ti­menti, no­tably the near front leg of the lead horse, which had been al­tered by about a cen­time­tre. In­ci­den­tally, a pair of prints af­ter Stubbs,

Labour­ers and Game­keep­ers, is ded­i­cated to H. U. Reay. At BADA, now priced at £750,000, the paint­ing at­tracted con­sid­er­able in­ter­est.

For tyro col­lec­tors who might not yet be able to af­ford a Stubbs, the Antiques for Ev­ery­one Fair at the Birm­ing­ham NEC be­tween April 6 and 9 will have some­thing to of­fer. His­cock & Shep­herd, for­merly of Por­to­bello Road, but now only ex­hibit­ing at fairs, spe­cialises in early needle­work and pot­tery, but on this oc­ca­sion it will also have a small col­lec­tion of four-bil­lionyear-old me­te­orite pieces (Fig

5), from the Bar­ringer Me­te­orite Crater, Ari­zona, USA, it­self formed a mere 50,000 years ago. These im­mi­grants from outer space will be of­fered at £5 each.

It is now be­lieved that Queen Vic­to­ria’s fa­mous ‘We are not amused’ was nei­ther a stuffy use of the royal ‘we’, nor an in­di­ca­tion of hu­mour­less­ness, but her re­sponse on be­half of fel­low din­ers to a tact­less rib­aldry on the sub­ject of her daugh­ter Princess Louise and her sup­posed lover, the sculp­tor Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834–90).

In 1888, Boehm’s eques­trian statue of the Duke of Welling­ton was erected at Hyde Park Cor­ner as a sub­sti­tute for the larger one that had stood on top of the tri­umphal arch there. The plinth is flanked by fig­ures of guards­men, also by Boehm, and a 171 ∕3in-high bronze scale model of one of these, a Gre­nadier in the 1815 uni­form with the ad­di­tion of a bearskin (Fig 7).

Af­ter Mait­land’s Guards Bri­gade de­feated Napoleon’s Old Guard Gre­nadiers at Water­loo, the Prince Re­gent awarded the 1st Foot Guards the dis­tinc­tion of wear­ing the Old Guard’s bearskin cap.

The bronze, with Hick­met of Lon­don, was cast by Elk­ing­ton. It and a match­ing pair, of a Gre­nadier of 1889 (Fig 6), with chevrons of ser­vice in the Mahdist War, by Ge­orge Ed­ward Wade (1853–1933), cast by the Bel­gian founder H. Lup­pens, came from Sotheby’s sale of the col­lec­tion of Stan­ley Seeger.

Next week Bud­dha bleu and other del­i­ca­cies

Fig 3 above: Bon­ing­ton wa­ter­colour. With Daniel Katz. Fig 4 right: Mem­ory Ves­sel 44. With Adrian Sas­soon

Fig 2: Moss-agate cup and cover. With Ge­org Laue

Fig 1: Two Hacks, now found to be by Stubbs. £750,000

Fig 6 right: Bronze 1889 Gre­nadier Guard. Fig 7 far right: Bronze 1815 Gre­nadier Guard. Both with Hick­met Fine Arts

Fig 5: Me­te­orite frag­ments from the Bar­ringer Memo­rial Crater. With His­cock & Shep­herd

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