By: Sallie Brady
Remember when London in June was a must-do? And when the annual season of top-quality antiques fairs and gallery exhibitions meant serious shopping? That was before the British pound hit the two-to-one mark against the dollar, and Americans in the English capital became as rare as sunshine. This summer, however, the forecast is looking bright. With sterling at a sustained 20-year low against the greenback, collectors will welcome prices quoted in pounds and relish, finally, an economical opportunity to buy.
The season kicks off with the Olympia International Fine Art & Antiques Fair, taking place June 5–14, where the Tomasso Brothers, the reclusive premium dealers of European sculpture, will offer a late 18th-century bust of Dionysus, believed to be by Luigi Valadier. Carlton Hobbs, the New York antiques dealer who was recently in the news for denying forgery allegations by his restorer, is another new exhibitor, bringing a collection of 18th-century South German furniture.
Celebrating its 75th anniversary, the venerable Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair, which runs June 11–17, continues to evolve with the times. There will be more sellers of modern British works such as Connaught Brown and the Harry Moore-Gwyn gallery, but there will also be changes in the Old Masters ranks. While Paris’ Galerie De Jonckheere and Stephen Ongpin Fine Art of London are new exhibitors, you’ll no longer find Johnny Van Haeften and Colnaghi at the fair. The two leading London dealers, along with 21 other galleries, have instead decided to launch Master Paintings Week on July 4–10 to coincide with the London Old Masters auctions as well as Master Drawings London. For American buyers, there couldn’t be a better excuse to continue a London holiday into July.
Ceramics collectors will want to hit the International Ceramics Fair & Seminar, running June 11–14, which will include British art pottery dealer AD Antiques and a panel discussion led by Wallace Collection director Rosalind Savill. At the antiquing mecca of Kensington Church Street, four dealers of 17th- through early 19th-century pottery will be selling more than 1,000 pieces during Eight Days in June, which takes place June 4–13. And if Chinese export is your passion, be sure to be in town on June 8, when ceramics specialist Eric Knowles will host talks on Cohen & Cohen’s exhibition of figures from the James E. Sowell Collection at Partridge Fine Arts.
London in June isn’t all about the past. The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, taking place June 8–Aug. 16, is a selling show of works by contemporary Royal Academicians such as Lucian Freud. One veteran, Julian Barrow, has created 100 oil paintings of his travels through India, which he’s selling at Indar Pasricha Fine Arts.
Fans of British Pop art sculptor Clive Barker, known for his witty chrome and bronze renditions of Homer Simpson and Mickey Mouse, will want to be at Whitford Fine Art on July 3 when the artist launches a showing of his work.