“It is a phoenix that rose out of the ashes of Grosvenor House,” says Geoffrey Munn, managing director of Wartski, a London jeweller. He is talking about the Masterpiece fair, which has just finished its second year alongside the river Thames. When Grosvenor, the grande dame of London’s annual art and antiques fairs, shut down in 2009, Masterpiece was one of two new fairs to have emerged, along with Brian and Anna Haughton’s Art Antiques London, which took place in Kensington Gardens in early June. After maiden voyages last year, both improved in 2011.
Art Antiques London is pitched to mid-range collectors with an emphasis on exceptional ceramics. Masterpiece is a bigger and glitzier bird, which aims to exhibit the best of the best. A visitor to this more ambitious fair, which closed on July 5th, could have taken home some 18th-century scenic wallpaper (at Carolle Thibaut-Pomerantz); a sleekly sensual, modern white sofa (Ciancimino); a series of four Commedia dell’Arte paintings by Giandomenico Tiepolo (Dickinson); a sapphire blue Rolls-Royce (pictured); or a Spitfire plane. The stands are generously proportioned, the colours soothingly neutral and the aisles thickly carpeted. For the peckish, there were outposts of the fashionable Le Caprice and Harry’s Bar.