By: Sallie Brady
It’s time for enthusiasts of Asian art and antiques to journey to London for the fortnight of gallery exhibitions, auctions, lectures and museum exhibitions collectively known as Asian Art in London. In Kensington Church Street, St. James’ and Mayfair—the three areas where these specialists cluster—collectors and curators can look forward to themed exhibitions and a vast array of fresh acquisitions originating from China, Japan, Korea, India and Tibet. Each neighborhood kicks off its annual shows with a late-night opening that turns into a round-robin of spirited receptions at participating galleries. Late night is Oct. 31 at Kensington Church Street, Nov. 1 at St. James’ and Nov. 2 at Mayfair. Most gallery exhibitions open Oct. 29 and officially stay up through Nov. 7, though many linger into the month. This year’s Asian Art in London’s gala takes place on Nov. 3 at the British Museum in a new gallery that is home to the spectacular Sir Percival David Collection of Chinese ceramics.
Among this year’s temptations is a collection of rare classical Chinese paintings on silk from the Southern Song through early Ming periods at Eskenazi. Ben Janssens Oriental Art will again feature Chinese lacquer, with mostly Ming pieces, such as a carved cinnabar incense box. S. Marchant & Son celebrates a gallery renovation with a significant exhibition of 54 pieces of Ming porcelain that it has been holding back for years. David Baker Oriental Art, whose offerings of Chinese works of art range delightfully from £100 to £40,000, has a number of jades and pieces of monochrome porcelain. Collectors of Song dynasty ceramics can shop Priestley & Ferraro’s exhibition, and Jorge Welsh’s Art of the Expansion and Beyond, focuses on his specialty, Chinese and Japanese export ware. Collectors of Qianlong jade should be in the salesroom on Nov. 3–4 when Christie’s sells the impressive Lord Blackford collection, and an Imperial green jade seal (est. £400,000–600,000) goes up at Sotheby’s.
Collectors of Japanese works of art will want to see the rare 19th-century ghost paintings on view at Gregg Baker Asian Art, of which Baker says, “They hung in the summer with the idea that they’d give you a chill.” Simon Pilling East Asian Art & Interiors will be selling contemporary Japanese lacquerware. Sam Fogg’s show of Tibetan manuscripts spans the 13th to 19th centuries and includes a set of 42 painted tsakalis, or ritual cards, while Rossi & Rossi will feature contemporary Tibetan artist Tsewang Tashi.
Expect a fervor for all things Indian this year. With Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts opening at the Victoria & Albert Museum (Oct. 10–Jan. 17), dealers such as Samina, which will be selling court jewels of Mughal India; Indar Pasricha Fine Arts, which will show “Maharajas’ Toys,” plus paintings and sculpture by the current Maharaja of Baroda; and Guinevere Antiques, which has lamps from royal Indian households, should all be busy. Other must-sees are the Bengal School of Painting collection selling at Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch and the Indian treasures and textiles at Francesca Galloway. There, an important banyan, or man’s coat, will be on view, as well as a maharaja’s ivory fly whisk and a show-stopping silver-footed ivory howdah, which in the 19th century would have carried a potentate atop an elephant but more recently held Barbara Hutton’s little dog at night. The asking price is £120,000.