Buy, buy, love

What­ever your taste, these up­com­ing sell­ing shows will have some­thing to tempt you

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market - Huon Mal­lalieu

WITH the ex­cep­tion of the new TEFAF Spring fair in New York and the Lon­don Orig­i­nal Print Fair, both of which I shall look at next week, the art-mar­ket cal­en­dar seems a lit­tle less crowded at the mo­ment than is of­ten the case, which al­lows me to flag up one or two par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing sell­ing shows.

Al­ready open and run­ning to May 6 at Ersk­ine, Hall & Coe in Royal Ar­cade, Old Bond Street, W1 (­sk­ine­hall­, is an ex­hi­bi­tion of works in ce­ramic, bronze, pa­per, glass and per­spex by 12 Mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary artists: Gor­don Bald­win, An­thony Ben­jamin, Joanna Con­stan­tini­dis, Hans Coper, Bernard De­jonghe, Ruth Duck­worth, Gwyn Hanssen Pig­ott, Ewen Hen­der­son, Jennifer Lee, Machiko Ogawa, Lu­cie Rie (Fig 4) and James Tower.

It in­cludes two un­usual, early fig­u­ra­tive works by Gor­don Bald­win, one ce­ramic and one bronze (Fig 1), both made in about 1960. Other high­lights in­clude a per­spex and chrome-plated steel sculp­ture by An­thony Ben­jamin, dat­ing from 1970 and com­ple­ment­ing his works on pa­per.

A ce­ramic mon­u­men­tal form by Hans Coper ac­com­pa­nies bowls and vases by Lu­cie Rie and an ex­quis­ite wall panel by Ruth Duck­worth, which has come di­rectly from her es­tate, is on dis­play. An early ves­sel by Jennifer Lee ac­com­pa­nies her most re­cent flat wall work and there is a mas­sive bronze sculp­ture by James Tower.

Two years ago, the private dealer Oliver Hoare of­fered a won­der­ful show ‘Ev­ery Ob­ject Tells a Story’ (COUN­TRY LIFE, June 10, 2015), which at­tracted more than 10,000 vis­i­tors to an im­pres­sive house in Fitzroy Square. From May 4 to July 5, he will be at 5, Cromwell Place, Lon­don, SW7, with about 400 strange, won­der­ful and beau­ti­ful ob­jects and more sto­ries to go with them. They span five mil­len­nia and rep­re­sent count­less civil­i­sa­tions, each se­lected on the ba­sis of their back sto­ries and his­tor­i­cal in­ter­est.

There will be a 13th-cen­tury sil­ver drink­ing ves­sel (Fig 5) bear­ing the seal of Möngke Khan, grand­son of Genghis Khan, who ruled the Mon­gol Em­pire at its peak; a sil­ver skull po­man­der be­lieved to have been owned by

James II (Fig 2); a rare group of vo­tive fig­ures from an­cient Bac­tria; a 2,000-year-old Mex­i­can stargazer; and sec­tions ded­i­cated to magic, myths, me­te­orites, sex and uni­corns.

This time, the space is the stu­dio of Sir John Lav­ery RA from 1899 un­til his death in 1941, dur­ing which time cel­e­brated sit­ters in­cluded Ge­orge V, Win­ston Churchill and Os­car Wilde.

Sam Fogg of 15D, Clif­ford Street, Lon­don, W1 (www.sam­, may be a ‘lead­ing dealer in the highly spe­cialised field of me­dieval art’, as his public­ity puts it, but he has an en­vi­able abil­ity to change em­pha­sis within it, find­ing new as­pects and en­sur­ing that his ex­hi­bi­tions never seem repet­i­tive. His ma­jor new show, ‘Maiolica be­fore Raphael’ (May 8 to June 16), is the first of its kind any­where for a cen­tury, bring­ing to­gether an im­por­tant group of late-me­dieval and early-re­nais­sance Ital­ian ce­ram­ics made be­tween about 1275 and 1500 (Fig

3 and 6).

Later Re­nais­sance is­to­ri­ato, or nar­ra­tive, maiolica, pro­duced in the or­bit of Raphael and other Ital­ian artists, is widely known and has been ex­ten­sively stud­ied. But not for 100 years has the same level of at­ten­tion been fo­cused on the mag­nif­i­cent works that pre­ceded it in the 14th and 15th cen­turies, which were prized more highly than pre­cious me­tals by con­tem­po­rary pa­trons.

‘Maiolica be­fore Raphael’ fo­cuses the spot­light of con­tem- po­rary schol­ar­ship onto this ear­lier de­vel­op­ment of Ital­ian

maiolica, par­tic­u­larly the key pe­riod in the Qu­at­tro­cento—the age of Donatello, Man­tegna and Bot­ti­celli. Dur­ing this for­ma­tive pe­riod, its char­ac­ter­is­tic tin-based glaze, with its pure- and bril­liantwhite sur­face, en­gen­dered some of the most rapid and ex­cit­ing in­no­va­tions in all ce­ramic art.

Pot­ters be­gan to dec­o­rate the sur­faces of their earth­en­ware ves­sels (of in­creas­ingly var­ied shapes and forms) with squirm­ing, metic­u­lous de­signs of un­par­al­leled in­ge­nu­ity and ex­pres­sion. They in­cor­po­rated dec­o­ra­tive mo­tifs in­flu­enced by and de­rived from sources in­clud­ing con­tem­po­rary tex­tiles, met­al­work, and lus­tre­ware from Is­lamic Spain.

The bian­nual Fresh Air out­door sculp­ture show (www. fre­shairsculp­ in the lovely river­side gar­dens of The Old Rec­tory, Quen­ing­ton, Glouces­ter­shire, and is now 25 years old. It has evolved from tra­di­tional be­gin­nings into a very di­verse dis­play of con­tem­po­rary sculp­tural and gen­er­ally cre­ative tal­ent.

It runs from June 11 to July 2, with 88 very var­ied artists, of whom more than 30 will be first­timers. Prices will range from £50 up to £50,000. Here, by way of an ad­vance no­tice, are Derek El­li­cott’s Chair of Un­know­ing and

Owl into Prey by Susie Wilson. Be­cause it seems to sit well with these shows, I in­clude one re­cent auc­tion, Sotheby’s sale of ce­ram­ics by Pablo Pi­casso. I am not an un­stint­ing ad­mirer of his pot­tery, be­cause he did not al­ways fit his dec­o­ra­tion to the form, but when he did, the re­sults are splen­did. Pi­casso be­gan to work at the Madoura pot­tery in Val­lau­ris in 1947 and, by 1955, he had pro­duced more than 9,000 pieces. The own­ers, Suzanne and Ge­orges Ramié, de­serve to be cred­ited more of­ten for teach­ing him the craft.

The top two lots here, Gros

oiseau vis­age noir (Fig 8) and Tau­reau (Fig 7), showed him at his very best. The first, which sold for £125,000, was charm­ingly witty; the sec­ond, at £100,000, used the form of the pitcher to per­fec­tion. All but one of the 86 lots found a buyer.

Next week All’s fair in New York and Lon­don

Fig 6: Ink­stand with fig­ures of the Virtues, about 1480–90

Fig 3: Small Floren­tine stor­age jar of about 1420–40

Fig 2: Sil­ver skull po­man­der pos­si­bly owned by James II


Fig 1: Turn­ing Fig­ure, of about 1960, by Gor­don Bald­win Fig 4 top: Lu­cie Rie’s Bowl. Fig 5 above: Sil­ver Mon­gol drink­ing ves­sel

Two clever ce­ramic cre­ations of Pi­casso: Tau­reau (Fig 7, left) sold for £100,000 and Gros oiseau vis­age noir (Fig 8, right) sold for £125,000

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