25 June 2018

Masterpiece, London, 2018

Masterpiece 2018 setting-up

However well we plan in advance, it is always daunting to arrive in a half-built hall, surrounded by machinery, pots of paint and lengths of uncut timber, all of which need to be negotiated by precious works of art.  As…

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25 March 2018

The Elephant in the Room: Ivory and the Art World

Queen Mother Pendant Mask, Nigeria (Benin), Edo peoples, 16th century. Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Nelson D. Rockefeller, 1972.   On 22 March, the Courtauld Institute, London hosted a debate on how we should consider historic works of art…

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6 March 2018

TEFAF, Maastricht (2018): all set

Blairman at TEFAF 2018

Our shippers, stand builders and lighting specialists have overcome the hazards of late winter weather to help us to create, we hope you will agree, another beautiful display in our familiar corner of the MECC. The backdrop to our stand…

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27 January 2018

‘Works of art and ivory: what are the issues?’, Curator: The Museum Journal 61 (1), January 2018

Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna Attempts formally to remove bona fide antique ivory from the raging debate on the preservation of the African elephant, threatened by poaching and illicit trade, rumble on confusingly.  In the United States of America the ban on imports…

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17 January 2018

Winter Antiques Show: we got there in the end

Winter Antiques Show 2018

It seems that no Winter Antiques Show is complete without the intervention of weather-related issues.  Perhaps the clue is in the timing: winter.  This year, our sea container was diverted to Virginia and only docked in New York on the…

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9 January 2018

China announces ‘total ban’ on ivory, or does it?

Eighteenth-century Anglo-Indian furniture at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.   Since the turn of the year, the British press and conservation groups have been justifiably applauding China’s ‘total ban’ on the trade in ivory.  The stringent Chinese onslaught on their…

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22 December 2017

Yesterday in Parliament: ivory

  In one of the final debates in the House of Lords before the Christmas recess, peers discussed the impact of the ivory trade on an elephant population under siege.  Lord Carrington of Fulham (no relation of the former Foreign…

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16 November 2017

A pen (and paint brush) made by William Morris

In 2012, when the Brandon-Jones collection was acquired by the Nation through the Acceptance in Lieu scheme, Red House in Bexleyheath (designed by Philip Webb for William Morris) was allocated several personal items that had belonged to Morris’s close associate…

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1 October 2017

PAD London, 4-8 October 2017

Thanks to some careful planning, and expert technical assistance from Aston Spinks (logistics) and Nicky Aubury (lighting), the set up for PAD 2017 was completed speedily, and with remarkable ease. By 8 am Berkeley Square was lined with trucks grabbing…

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3 August 2017

An anonymous workshop Daybook, 1851-1885

While considerable evidence, such as insurance records, bills (perhaps matched to surviving furniture), letters, rate books and, sometimes, personal accounts, exists for the activities of larger cabinet-making firms, day-to-day records for smaller, more general workshops are far scarcer. Thus, it…

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12 July 2017

Circle of George Bullock: a Regency sarcophagus-form strong box?

Although, for now, the precise origins of this remarkable and perhaps unique masterpiece remain unknown, it is clearly an exceptional work by a talented designer and maker, and was surely commissioned for the grandest of interiors.  Since this seemingly unique…

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21 June 2017

Pair of chairs for Walter Morrison (1836-1921): a new discovery

Walter Morrison, the ninth (of eleven) children born to James Morrison (1789-1857) and his wife Mary (1795-1887) was just twenty-one when his father died leaving him £300,000 (a fortune that today would be the equivalent of £28m) and the Malham…

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29 March 2017

Expertise and enthusiasm: present and future appreciation of the decorative arts

For many years now, there has been a perception that so-called ‘traditional areas’ under the umbrella of the ‘decorative arts’ have fallen from favour.  But what does this mean?  Is this a reference to the market, or to public appreciation?…

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6 March 2017

TEFAF, Maastricht, 2017: still the best

We spent an enjoyable weekend unpacking a truck-full of crates, each revealing a piece of furniture, an object or a picture, soon to be placed or hung on our expanded Maastricht stand.  Thanks as ever to Aston Spinks (see below)…

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18 January 2017

The Winter Antiques Show: ready to go

On Tuesday morning, so far spared the traditional Winter Antiques Show snow, we arrived at the nonetheless frigid Armory. Our shippers battled the mêlée of ‘troublesome trucks’ jockeying for position on a gridlocked Lexington Avenue. But, without the slightest hint…

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12 December 2016

Sitting comfortably, on chairs designed by Thomas Chippendale the Younger

During a recent visit to Salisbury, I took some time to enjoy the magnificent cathedral.  Walking past the north transept, my eye was caught by a life-size seated figure.  On inspection this turned out to be a funerary monument to…

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