Masterpiece, London’s premier art, antiques and design fair of the summer which opens on Wednesday, prides itself on the rigour of its vetters who check everything for authenticity. One who is exercising particular diligence this year is William Iselin, an art adviser who heads the continental furniture committee. In the last few months one of the biggest stories in the French press concerns alleged fakes of 18thcentury French seat furniture by Foliot, Delanois and others worth millions of pounds that have taken in auctioneers and experts, including those at the Palace of Versailles. These have been connected to Paris’s leading furniture dealers Bill Pallot of the Didier Aaron Gallery, and Laurent Kraemer, co-director of the old and prestigious Kraemer furniture gallery. Both have been investigated and charged by police, and while Pallot has admitted having had two fake chairs made, Kraemer denies selling any fakes knowingly. Kraemer, who exhibited at Masterpiece last year, is not making an appearance this year. Nor is he showing at the glitzy Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris in September as he normally does. Iselin, meanwhile, says he will be “extra vigilant” about what he looks at in Masterpiece. “We believe more fakes will be uncovered in the future, but the good news is that we know what they look like and now have the technical ability to analyse them.” As of yesterday an 18th-century commode by Dubois brought to Masterpiece by Paris dealer, Steinitz, was one of several items to have passed the test. David Hockney’s London dealers, Annely Juda, open an exhibition of the artist’s iPad drawings of Yosemite National Park today to coincide with the Royal Academy’s exhibition of new portraits by the artist. Prices will range from $20,000 (£15,120) to $98,000, not including import VAT.
Brexit notwithstanding, this is the time of year when London invites the world to shop for art and antiques during “the season”. Apart from Masterpiece and the auctions there is Art & Antiques in a fine tented structure opposite the Royal Albert Hall, and the traditional Olympia fair in west London. These are followed by London Art Week, where local and visiting galleries are mounting specially curated shows, from pre-classical antiquities to Old Master and modern paintings – all worth a visit. The London and Provincial Art & Antiques Dealers’ Association (LAPADA) has announced it has had unusually healthy demand for stands at its Berkeley Square fair in September. Looking at the new exhibitors, it is clear that many have come from the 20/21 British Art Fair that was to have taken place at the Royal College of Art also in September, until the college made itself unavailable. The Portal Gallery, Manya Igel, Beaux Arts in Bath, John Iddon and Boundary Gallery have all applied to LAPADA. The more central Mall Galleries will host 20/21 this time next year, while a rival new fair for Modern British art to have been launched at the Royal Geographic Society has shelved plans for this September, and is looking at a date close to LAPADA next year.
A 19th-century Regency rosewood table at The Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia