10 November 2016

Variations on a theme: two armchairs designed by C.F.A. Voysey (1857-1941)

C.F.A Voysey’s armchair, with a heart-shape in the back, is one of his most recognisable designs. The armchair with rush seat (above) is a close variant of this widely published model, which is itself known in various forms; see, for…

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7 November 2016

Charles Lepec: two recently identified works

As was acknowledged during their lifetimes, the crucial relationship between the fabulously wealthy patron and collector Alfred Morrison (1821-97), and the supremely talented enamel artist Charles Lepec (1830-90), led to much of Lepec’s artistic output, during the 1860s, finding a…

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27 May 2016

Ivory: what is the latest?

According to the entirely justified headline to an online article in Apollo, ‘Antique ivory poses no threat to elephant conservation: in fact, it needs protection itself’ (see here). We all love elephants, and who brought up on Jean de Brunhoff’s Babar (below)…

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17 May 2016

Summer is coming, so we are told…

Just back from Chicago, where I was kindly invited to speak to the Antiquarians at the Art Institute of Chicago, on ‘Alfred Morrison (1821-97): an overlooked patron and collector of decorative arts’.  This remarkable maecenas lived in Carlton House Terrace,…

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19 April 2016

William Shakespeare: a table incorporating part of his mulberry tree

23 April 2016 marks the four hundredth anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. Shakespeare (1564-1616) is revered as the greatest figure in English literature.  Although long admired, it was not until the Great Shakespeare Jubilee arranged in 1769 by the actor…

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7 March 2016

Local authority budget pressure threatening Lancaster’s Gillows collection at the Judges’ Lodgings

Time is rapidly running out to find a solution for the Judges’ Lodgings Museum in Lancaster, and its renowned collection of furniture by Gillows, the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ cabinet-maker. Against the brutal background of cuts to local authority budgets, Lancashire County…

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3 February 2016

News from New York: that was the WAS that was…

A long stay on the East Coast for the Winter Antiques Show began with a day in Washington.  It seems that fatigue is casting a shadow over many of the groups involved in the battle to retain the free movement…

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19 January 2016

The Winter Antiques Show 2016

The year is barely three weeks old, but here we all are, back in New York for the Winter Antiques Show.  This long running fair, established in 1955, supports the East Side House Settlement, which was itself founded in 1891….

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6 January 2016

Philip Blairman: some early memories, in his own words

Since 2013, Mark Westgarth, based at the University of Leeds, has been investigating ‘Antique Dealers: the British Antiques Trade in the 20th Century’.  This project grew out of his earlier work that culminated in A Biographical Dictionary of Nineteenth Century…

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19 November 2015

A Thomas Hope chandelier identified

Lost works of art are sometimes hidden in plain sight. Such is the case with a magnificent chandelier that undoubtedly once hung at Thomas Hope’s Duchess Street mansion in London, and later at his country house the Deepedene, Dorking, Surrey….

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3 November 2015

A pair of chairs after a design by Thomas Hope (1769-1831)

The seemingly simple form of this pair of Regency ‘tub’ chairs exemplifies Thomas Hope’s timeless genius as a designer.  Their apparently effortless curved backs seem redolent, for example, of the 1920s ‘art deco’ seat furniture by designers such as Emile-Jacques…

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27 October 2015

The Autumn Season begins: PAD, and an American trip

The atmosphere at PAD, the Pavilion of Art and Design held each October in Berkeley Square, was scintillating. The show was packed for the duration and, quite simply, worked. Visitors from across the globe loved the ambience created by our Parisian organisers, while the equally international exhibitors benefited from the response to their carefully created stands. During a mild autumn week, with Frieze Masters up in Regent’s Park, London’s art market felt in rude health.

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12 October 2015

PAD 2015: first preview this afternoon

As ever, the set up for PAD was a delight.  This may be accounted for by our pleasure in this event; by the friendly atmosphere created by the organisers and exhibitors alike; by the range of fascinating materials brought by…

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25 August 2015

Ivory: responding to the Fish & Wildlife Service

Since the publication on 29 July in Washington of the Fish & Wildlife Service’s ‘Rule’ setting out proposed amendments to the Endangered Species Act, auction houses, collectors, dealers, and museums in the States have been considering and progressing their responses.  The clock is ticking down on the 60-day window allowed for written arguments.

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26 July 2015

Ivory: Fish & Wildlife Service publish ‘Rule’ to amend implementation of Director’s Order 210

Make no mistake: the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) is faced with a tough task.  It must, among many other responsibilities, implement universally supported government policy on the conservation of endangered species.  With regard to Director’s Order 210, first issued in February last year, its role is to contribute to the elimination of the illicit trade in poached ivory.  It has been evident for the past eighteen months that this quest has been sweeping up in its wake the trade in world-class works of art made from or incorporating ivory.

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18 July 2015

Ivory: ‘African Elephant Conservation and Legal Ivory Possession Act of 2015’

On 15 July, Senators Steve Daines [R-MT] and Lamar Alexander [R-TN] introduced into Congress a wide-ranging Bill aimed at halting the over-regulation of ‘legal ivory’.  If adopted the Bill would specifically end what is, in effect, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s unilateral ban on the import of lawfully possessed ivory.  Impediments to internal trade and legitimate ownership would also be overturned.  Equally, the Bill would lead to significant efforts being funded to assist anti-poaching efforts in countries with at risk elephant populations.

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