Journal

26 October 2016

26th October 2016

The first log fire has been lit, the leaves have changed their colour, Halloween is only a few days away...Autumn is most definitely here!

Our Autumn Catalogue, No 47, has now been published and makes our minds turn to creating a cosy home filled with objects that make us smile.

Please email us if you would like to receive the E-Catalogue which is now available

 

29 July 2016

CHRISTIE'S LATES: FESTIVAL OF FOLK

Robert will be holding a talk on "Collecting British Folk Art" at Christie's South Kensington on Tuesday 2nd August at 7.45pm.

Find out more at @ChristiesInc

 

 

25 May 2016

"A UNIQUE INDIVIDUALITY AND ATTENTION TO DETAIL"

A Preview of  Masterpiece 2016

This time last year we still had builders here, with their accompanying dust and noisy chaos, as the renovation project to our building was in full swing.

Now we are back to normal in Battersea and have just rearranged the shop, after most of the sold pieces from our Exhibition have been collected and we find ourselves on the edge of spring, as it breaks into summer.

For us, early summer in London has become synonymous with Masterpiece, probably the most innovative and significant art and antiques event held in the UK.

The preparation and planning for this are now our primary focus, as we concentrate on the stand layout, decoration and installation.

It’s like a theatrical production and requires the input of many dedicated and skilled individuals. Masterpiece is all about detail.

We never know what other Galleries and Dealerships will bring to Masterpiece, but there is always a unique energy and creative spirit, possibly due to the quality and variety of works on show and the diversity of materials, age and scale, which combine to make it the most exciting venue we exhibit at.

The pieces we offer need to be strong and honourable to hold their own in such company and we revel in the opportunity of exhibiting our vernacular, naive, primitive and folk art alongside some of the most significant mainstream works available for sale anywhere in the world.

As always, we aim to source rare and extraordinary examples, both figurative and abstract, with confident lines, bold compositions, exciting textures and original surfaces.

This is an exhibition where we can celebrate the compatibility of authentic naïve art with both ancient and modern works, where we can also illustrate the relevance of the “primitive” in a contemporary setting.

The pieces we have selected to exhibit still speak of the hands that created them, they are of differing scale, both rich and raw in spirit, yet common to them all is a unique individuality and attention to detail.

We have Complimentary Tickets available, so please contact us if you would like to visit and we look forward to catching up with old friends and to meeting those of you who plan to visit for the first time.

 

 

 

06 May 2016

LIKE THE OLD DAYS

From 1978 until 1989 we lived here in the flat above the shop.

We were unreliable in our opening hours as we didn’t have any help and the two of us went out buying, until we filled the little van we had and returned to the shop to sell it!

They were different times and the trade worked in a different way, but we always made a point of being open on Saturdays. They were happy times and we would move downstairs for the day with baskets of bread, cheeses, salads and other little regional delicacies Josyane had picked up during the week and wine. People knew we would be in and popped in to see what was fresh in in, for trade gossip and a chat, whilst sharing a glass of wine and a nibble with us. It was convivial, fun and hopefully mutually beneficial.

We established some good friendships and clients in those times, some of whom we still work with and now even with some of their children

Times have changed, we had two children and moved out to a larger home nearby, but the demands of a young family with weekend sports, recreation and activities took their toll on our being able to be at the shop. However we then we found the wonderful Odette who opened and ran the shop on Saturdays for over 20 years, before retiring when we gutted and renovated the building and shop last year.

She will be so hard to replace and we have been taking our time thinking about who would be perfect and what their job description will be, as we probably need somebody with some internet savvy and maybe photographic skills to help keep us alive and relevant in the 21st century. But primarily they will need to revive and develop the legacy of our traditional Saturday opening.

In the meantime, we sincerely apologise to all for the inconvenience of our having been closed on Saturdays since the beginning of 2015. We promise this will be rectified in due course and we will let all on our mailing list know when it changes back.

In the meantime, as our Exhibition is running over the next two weeks, we will be open from 10.00am - 4.00pm this Saturday 7th and next Saturday 14th May.

Like the old days, I will be here and open all day this Saturday and will have a little bread, cheese and wine to share with anyone who happens to drop by.

The building may have been renovated, but we hope that the spirit remains the same.

 

09 March 2016

ESCAPE

Naïve and primitive art have been enjoying a renaissance in interest and a rapidly rising profile over recent years.

Critics, curators and collectors variously claim this is due to its fundamental unpretentious integrity, that its bold graphics and limited palette have been a source of inspiration to some twentieth century artists and that its raw untutored style is a refreshing escape from contemporary concepts and ideologies.

Personally, I think it is because it is simply human, it is art that people can feel and relate to. It makes them smile.

Much of the subject matter is not carefully observed, but is painted or executed from an understanding or familiarity, or even as Alfred Wallis said, “painted from memry”.

In our Annual Exhibition, we aim to celebrate what is now popularly known as Folk Art and gather together works by little known unrecorded “artists”, alongside completely anonymous works, in a variety of media.

We source and select them visually, looking for that individual quality that somehow defines them as special, the very quality that has helped them survive through several, even multiple generations.

The execution, materials and techniques are varied, yet there is often the feeling that the artists had a relationship with their subjects.

Like unself-conscious children making images of their homes, parents, siblings and pets, they use assumed information of scale and relationship. They ignore studied observation, viewpoints and perspective to show what they want to be seen, they exaggerate and imagine.

So we see homes, children, agricultural animals and pets, food, landscapes, pubs, churches, trophies of hunting and fishing. Images of subjects the artists knew and cherished, which they could enhance and escape to.

Escape is such an important element of art, as it excites imagination and makes memories, it is not tangible, it’s a feeling, sometimes even a fantasy.

Escape is about getting away from the ordinary every day experience of living and it is no coincidence that horses, carriages, mules, carts, boats, ships and later locomotives were such popular subjects, like art itself they offered a sense of freedom and a means of escape, over land or sea.

Annual Exhibition of Antique Folk Art 5-14th May 2016

 

 

 

 

05 February 2016

Crazy Beautiful

The snow came in gracefully, the breeze was light and the flakes fluttery, but they came and they came…. and they came.

Bustling, brash, bright, busy New York City gradually came to a standstill as nearly three feet of snow settled and piled up over everything.

It began peacefully on the evening of Friday 22nd January, the opening day of the 2016 New York Winter Antiques Show, after two weeks of crashing uncertainty on the world’s stock markets.

In any language, these circumstances did not combine to inspire confidence that the Winter Show would be a massive commercial success, and it possibly wasn’t………...but it was remarkably good.

On the snow ridden Saturday, (traditionally the busiest day of the show, with an average attendance of some 6000 plus visitors), with the city closed to all over-ground traffic, the show management boldly decided to keep the fair open and to welcome any intrepid souls who braved the conditions.
I believe that a total of something just short of 600 were reported to have visited.

The atmosphere was fun, there was a comradery in the hall and of course great tales of how people had made their journeys. The child in all of us was excited by the sheer beauty and drama of it and to witness this hectic, energetic city cloaked in huge billowing clouds of pure virgin white, still and virtually silent……..and yet business was still conducted.

We sold four pieces that Saturday, to three different clients and we were a long way from being alone in our success.

I believe that the show was generally successful. Visitor numbers increased as the snows melted and the second week brought fresh, sunny early spring days. We noted again that vernacular and sculptural works were eagerly sought after by designers, collectors and individual private buyers, but also interestingly that more traditional and formal pieces, of both English and American origin, met with demand and good sales were achieved.

On its own this doesn’t mean very much, as this is the pre-eminent and longest running vetted antiques show in North America, with an established reputation and strong client base, so can be considered as commercial a micro-climate, but it does reflect a shift in taste and dare I suggest “fashion”.

For the first time in its history the Winter Show eliminated their datelines and pieces by modern or living artists, (whose works are represented in multiple museum collections), were allowed to be exhibited and a few new specialist modern and contemporary dealerships, were invited to join the show. It is possible that this drew a slightly new audience to the Park Avenue Armory and it certainly altered the feeling and atmosphere of the show in what we thought was a positive manner.

Respected Art Critic Roberta Smith wrote a long and enthusiastic preview of the show for the Weekend edition of the New York Times for which she kindly selected an inherently primitive vernacular sculpture of ours for the cover photograph and mentioned our stand as one of three “OMG” moments at the 2016 show, which was a considerable compliment and privilege.

Finally on the last weekend Josyane’s flair for creating a composed, balanced and exciting stand was rewarded with the “Most Inspired” Award in the 2016 Booth Design Contest, another huge honour, of which we are very proud.

We enjoyed the trip, were hosted by warm and generous friends/clients, shared conviviality and good food with old friends and conducted successful business in a world that seems to be increasingly interested in the merit and values of vernacular and primitive works and in spite of all the inconvenience it caused, (including delaying Ilse’s return to the UK due to cancelled flights), we loved the snow. It was just so soft and relentless, so deep, white, magical and powerful, simply just crazy beautiful.

 

05 January 2016

“A child of six could do that.”

Is it curious that works classified as “primitive”, “naïve” or “folk art” , created by untrained hands or by artisans, rather than artists, are enjoying wide critical acclaim? No not really.

Great artworks generally share most of the following qualities:

-Originality of composition.

-Experimental use of materials.

-Bold and confident execution.

-An inherent narrative or pathos.

-The unique expression of the hand that created it.

So in a world where we often hear said “A child of six could do that” in relation to prized and sometimes highly priced abstract and contemporary artworks, perhaps we should consider more carefully what an “untrained” hand can and does create.

Great art is about a quality or an indefinable “spirit”, something that touches or moves us, something that speaks in a different, even more powerful way than words.

The market, particularly in the highly charged art collecting world, likes to have names, biographies, authorship, portfolios and catalogue raisonees, built up around its heroes, who were all once unknown.

Contemporary art demands more intuition, “eye” and courage than established works from further back in history. Critics and collectors need to be excited, inspired or moved by new new creations of unsung and as yet undiscovered “masters” and confident enough to back their own judgement as to what is worthwhile or exceptional.

In the endless search for originality in “art”, lines have become blurred. The pushing of boundaries and experiments with concepts have taken “art” into new realms and yet some institutions, critics and collectors are beginning to feel that maybe the “artist” does not necessarily have to have been trained by the art establishment or be part of a movement or moment, because their work can stand alone and speak for itself.

We believe that this is why eyes and interest are turning towards folk, “outsider”, primitive and naïve works, where singular individuality and powerful expression can frequently be found and exciting discoveries made. It is a place where human creativity has been left to breathe freely and allowed to flourish.

 

 

04 December 2015

LOOKING FORWARD

Events and exhibitions somehow dictate the pattern of our professional lives and the New York Winter Antiques Show is one of only two shows that we participate in outside our building in Battersea. Since the summer we have been selecting the works we plan to exhibit there in January, photographing, conserving and cataloguing them.  This week we have finalised the documentation, the consignment has been collected and is now being prepared for shipment. Our catalogue has gone to press. Experience tells us that this means Christmas is near, as our minds concentrate on the shop again for a while.

We re-stocked and styled yesterday and brought in two lovely Christmas Trees from our garden today, (the same two that we had in the shop window last year and which have flourished and grown since then for another month in the limelight), the fire is lit before 10.00am every day, as our “Signature” scented candles gutter away quietly and the Quaker longcase clock ticks peacefully and strikes on the hour, it is a pleasure to be here.

There is currently much speculation about the future marketing of art and antiques, with discussions around the costs and merits of retail premises, art fairs, the internet and exhibitions.

Before settling down to update this journal, we have had three visitors today. One who brought some interesting pieces to show and offer us, a client who came to look at a particular piece he had discovered on our website and the third who came just to see what was new. Between them they were here for four hours. It has made for a busy day, juggling their visits with a list of unfinished jobs, but these days are what everybody here works for.

We select, source, and conserve old things, pieces that we believe have significant qualities, interest or merit, in order to display, share and discuss them with people who drop by and find a space unlike any other. A place where they can look at, handle and chat about what they see, what they like and don’t like, what they cherish and what they collect and dream about finding. We learn from them and hopefully they from us. That is why we’re open and why we believe in the future of shops and galleries.
 

12 November 2015

A CLOSER LOOK AT A BRANCH AND SIX PLANKS

ONE BRANCH, a good eye and a naturally inventive instinct, are the elements that led to the creation of this unique sweeping brush.

Swedish and dating from the later-1800s, it is an inspired example from the colourful history of Swedish design.

No extraneous ornament, no fuss, just the vision to identify the form of a natural branch and translate it into a functional object.

Works of folk art were often born of necessity, yet fashioned with such sensitivity and ingenuity that they appeal to generation after generation and outlive their owners and creators by centuries.

Unique by definition, practical and still functioning perfectly, well over a hundred years after it was made………. and it makes you smile. I think most designers would be happy with that!

 

SIX PLANKS, a top, a bottom and four sides, that’s all it takes to make a chest, so what makes it special?

This ancient example was made in Northern Sweden from fine, hard, slow-grown alpine pine.

It is hard to date accurately, but it certainly dates back to the 1600’s, which we know from the form, materials and construction.

It is fashioned from massive well-seasoned, riven planks, averaging close to 3cms thick.

No cut joints, dovetails or adhesives were used in its construction. The base and all four sides are simply overlapped and fixed with large square wooden pegs and re-enforced by the original metal brackets towards the top.

The large hand forged metal strap hinges, corner brackets, small drop ring handles, triangular escutcheon, internal lock and key, are all original.

The surface is dry, raw, untouched, almost like driftwood and there are enticing remnants of the original paint, now worn and faded with age, which has developed a wonderful almost contemporary abstract appeal.

The sides are slightly tapered, with the base being wider than the top, which in conjunction with the robust construction and the “in use” wear is evidence enough to suggest that it was made to serve as a bench seat as well as a storage chest.

Internally, it is fitted with a candle box on the left hand side and a taper till on the right hand side, and that is that.

Swedish design is recognised for its spare economic lines, its sensitive minimal qualities and an understated elegance, from the Baroque period through the Gustavian era and right up to the Mid-Twentieth Century Modernism. Pieces of this nature are from the roots of that tradition, which can really be traced back to the Vikings.

This is a powerful object, almost monolithic in appeal, yet of comparatively small scale. The materials themselves are magnetic and temptingly tactile, the natural raw timber with its traces of paint now softly worn, but left to age gracefully with no “improvements” or interference throughout multiple generations. The functional hand wrought metalwork draws the eye and is integral to the design, due to its scale, colour and exact positioning. These are the qualities that make it special and lend it a natural, albeit inanimate, charisma.

A model of simplicity that lives on as an heirloom, some 400 years after the maker selected his timber and created it with rudimentary tools, patience and talent.

The next chapter in their journey will be to travel to New York City, to be exhibited at the Winter Antiques Show in January 2016. So life goes on.


 

20 October 2015

World of Interiors, November 2015

The current issue of the World of Interiors, probably the world’s most respected and influential Interior Design related publication, contains a ten page feature on a Charles II period London house that we at Riviére Interiors were commissioned to renovate and re-decorate.

This was a wonderful commission, as the house itself was still in a largely original state, certainly in “rescuable condition” and the clients were keen to respect its original features and qualities and to get it back to something like it was meant to be. We took paint samples from various places in the house to learn what colours and paints had been used over the years and where possible we sourced genuine re-claimed materials and largely furnished the house with period furniture and objects.

We uncovered original features and details and filled in gaps where necessary. We also played with the layout of the garden and working with historic design principles, laid it out as it may originally have been, with a courtyard nearest the house, a pleasure garden, kitchen garden and a rose/scented garden and small pavilion furthest away from the back of the house. We researched what trees and shrubs may have been available in late C17th England and where possible used mature examples of these, certainly for the “structure” of the landscape.

But the real joy was the enthusiasm and confidence we enjoyed from our clients. They made a long process fun to be a part of, whilst concurrently living in the house for over three years with the noise, dust, materials and chaos of builder’s and decorators all around them.

They are collectors in the real, passionate, old fashioned way. Enchanted, interested and seduced by both beauty and history. They have a wide range of interests and do not have eyes for only one period or medium, so the house reflects them.

Ultimately it is always people that matter most. Those who create and those who recognise creative talent, both the art of their time and from the past.

It is because of such people, over the history of mankind, that we can all continue to enjoy and be inspired by the magic of the works they treasured, cared for and left behind them.

 

 

 

02 October 2015

AUTUMN

Watery sun, colourful crispy leaves, log fires and the new RYA Catalogue.

We have taken delivery of the first load of logs into the shop, the leaves are beginning to scatter and blow on the pavement and our next Catalogue #43 has gone to press.

All this means that Autumn is here and in spite of the wonderful Indian Summer, all our thoughts and plans begin to turn back indoors, towards our homes.

Our Catalogues make great Autumnal fireside reading, and are full of pictures. We recommend enjoying them slowly, with a good glass of wine or old malt whisky.

Please email us if you would like to receive the forthcoming E-Catalogue, due towards the end of October.

24 September 2015

GENUINE INDIVIDUALITY

Early Windsor Chairs have a timeless appeal.

There is something about the unique individuality of early, "one off", primitive examples that appeals to scholars, collectors and designers alike, to the extent that they have really become the icons of the British vernacular furniture tradition. The history of the name "Windsor Chair" is uncertain and for our purposes somewhat irrelevant.  What we want to consider is what it defines and what makes an example special.

Primarily “Windsor” is now the established term used to describe chairs and stools that are constructed by socketing turned legs, splats and spindles into a solid plank seat. It is that simple.

"Windsor" does not signify a specific regional origin.
Early chairs generally finish in a “comb” or shaped cresting rail rather than the later curved bentwood upper bows. However many do have bentwood arm-bows, as well as hewn single piece arms and are also constructed from either two or three pieces of timber joined together to fashion arm bows of various sizes and forms, most typically from the West Country of England.

So what do we look for, what are the magical qualities that lend these chairs such aesthetic charisma?  Primarily it is about design.
Does a chair have individuality, something that separates it from the ordinary? For example a particularly well-defined and deeply saddled seat; an interesting outline to the superstructure or cresting rail, generous arms, or interesting arm rest supports, unusual shape and good height to the legs, great scale and proportions, well figured timbers or original paint surface, evidence of use and wear, these are the qualities we look for. Since they are so simply constructed, it is amazing to witness the variety of shapes and details that exist and how they share a powerful sculptural quality.

The definition of their form is simply described by the series of finely turned spindles, framed at the bottom by a single plank and at the top by a shaped single rail, this simplicity is what makes them so economical in design terms and timelessly complimentary to almost all interior spaces.

The best ones have a kind of personality about them, a genuine individuality and understated presence. Like people, we don’t all like the same ones, but we all tend to respect the most attractive, honourable and dignified.

 

 

 

18 September 2015

COPPER IS KING.

Why are some weathervanes so much cooler, sculptural and ultimately more valuable than others?

Full bodied examples are invariably more powerful that the flat silhouettes.

Zinc and galvanised metal examples are more common in the French and American traditions and are invariably later works, which can have extraordinary appeal and great surface.

Ferrous metal examples were usually originally painted or gilded, but again due to the nature of the material they gradually oxidise, rust, lose the painted or gilt decoration and form a new entirely fortuitous surface, which can be both interesting and attractive, particularly when placed out of context and juxtaposed with clean lined modern materials or wall finishes.

But copper is the king. Copper is soft and workable, so great full bodied shapes could be readily fashioned and beaten out to create broad full bodied forms and etched with detail.

Better still when exposed to the elements it creates an exciting Verdigris patina, probably the most attractive and desirable of all natural finishes on original works of early exterior Folk Art.

Nature never re-creates the same colour, finish or patina. Each example is different. Some wildly green or blue in tone, some with patches, some with blotches, some with runs, dribbles, stains or streaks.

It is simply the wonderful, haphazard, abstract nature of the surface and the honest primitive forms that make the best examples desirable and now so sought after by many collectors of contemporary art.

They always say that the world of fashion and taste goes round and round in cycles, just like weathervanes.

 

 

 

11 September 2015

A CLOSER LOOK

BRUSH CHAIR BOX

"Something about Aged Paint on Old Wood”

Colour brightens our lives, individually we are attracted to and have preferences for some colours over others and accept that generally life would be very dull without colour.

To some degree this feeling and sensitivity to colour is at the heart of the creation of what is now categorised as “Folk Art”.

We know that paint has long been used to protect wood from the elements, on houses, boats, waggons and carts, signs, furniture, utilitarian and domestic implements.

Using paint in any circumstance offers an opportunity for creativity. The selection and combination of colours, method of application and design. So over the years, working artisans have left their individual mark on many things which still represent their individuality and vision.

It needs to be recognised that in the past the availability and cost of painting materials inevitably influenced the choices and range of colours and finishes available, but even allowing for these constraints some great artworks and objects survive, which are now celebrated for their inherent artistic integrity and visual strength.

But there is another vital ingredient that needs to be considered, which is the qualities that develop to the painted surface with age and use.

Paint hardens with age, (particularly oil and casein bound paints), and the surface softens to a smooth silky surface with regular handling and wear; or develops a crusty texture when left exposed to the elements, variable temperatures and humidity.

Colour also fades over time, as the natural pigments become absorbed into medium and binders and are exposed to daylight, cleaning and handling. Paint colours also become less consistent and even.

There is something about aged paint on wood. Something satisfying about the subtlety of colours, the areas where the paint is worn so thin that the timber grain peaks through and where nature has conspired to create a blend of colours and surfaces that could not have been envisaged when the paint was bright, fresh and new.

When you see and feel a genuine old, untouched, original paint surface it is always unique and seems to tell a story.

We are attracted to and fascinated by such silent, unspoken stories and we spend much of our time looking for the pieces that tell them.

Stories of different times and places. Personal, occasionally intimate stories, that have not been heard for many years.

 

 

03 September 2015

“A CLOSER LOOK”

What’s the Score?

Matching Set of Six Queen Anne Period Dining Chairs.

When people visit us here in Battersea, they frequently like to touch and handle the pieces we have on exhibition, but also enjoy discussing the pieces that attract them.

I find myself in much the same position when in independent wine shops, where I love to chat and learn from specialist merchants who know the vineyards and wine makers. I enjoy their knowledge and understanding of the “terroir”, the climate of the vintages and its effect on the flavour or body of the wine, the grape varieties and blends. I learn more about the wine from them than I ever could just from a label and it often greatly increases the pleasure when tasting or drinking it.

There is a similarity in the art and antiques world, for example I used never to listen to the audio tapes at museum shows and exhibitions, but now find that there can be parts of the narrative that enhance my experience and help me see or understand or look at works in a new or different way.

A long standing client and regular visitor to our shop, recently suggested that it would be interesting to read our comments about the pieces we have, in much the same way as we would chat about them here, so we have decided to start posting some notes, here on our online Journal, under the heading “A Closer Look” and plan to do it regularly if the initiative generally meets with your interest. So any feedback will be gratefully received.

Last week we looked at a Georgian period vernacular table and so I thought it appropriate to now look at some early chairs.

Many early furniture enthusiasts have a real soft spot for chairs and I think this is possibly because unique individual characteristics are often most evident in them. Chairs and stools probably have the hardest life and get the most wear of all the furniture forms. They are handled, moved, dragged, tilted and lent back on in a way that case and occasional furniture has not normally been subjected to. This tough life can lend great surface, patina and sculptural individuality to them, but also inevitably genuine old chairs may bear scars and bruises, some will also have suffered structural damage, so they warrant a closer look, as originality and condition are significant qualities to consider when looking at all vernacular furniture.

The things to look out for particularly are a loss of height or subsequently built up/restored feet; loose joints to joined frame constructed chairs; loose spindles or socketed arm or upper bow joints in Windsor style chairs; damaged or replaced stretchers and shrinkage splits to solid seats. Once a chair has loosened it tends to rapidly deteriorate and the subsequent necessity for restoration becomes more involved and complicated.

So with this in mind, it is easy to understand how unusual and exciting it is to find a genuine matching set of chairs that are now just over 300 years old, still in original and strong functional condition!

The design of these chairs is a kind of hybrid combining elements of the late C17th William and Mary style, as seen in the turned leg joined frames, “Braganza” feet , framed and panelled seats and the more elegant Queen Anne period details of the classical baluster splats and double domed crest rails. However the most immediately noticeable feature are the wonderfully bold, turned central stretchers, which with their horizontal three dimensional form are compatible with and complimentary to the flat graphically strong silhouettes of the vertical baluster splats above. The chairs are constructed from excellent quality oak and there would have been considerable wastage when turning these stretchers, to allow for their generous scale. Framed panelled seats are also a fine quality feature in C18th provincial chair making, and were introduced to allow shrinkage of the plank seats. The panels being set within the frame and never glued, pegged, nailed or fixed, allowing it to move freely without splitting.

Therefore we know that these chairs are fine examples, both from their style , material and construction, but what really makes them special is being a complete matching set, their originality, and most importantly their colour and surface. These qualities are much sought after in all aspects of vernacular furniture and folk art. Great surface, both texture and colour are hard to define. It can be raw, bleached and weathered; crusty and rough with old remnants of historic paint or richly burnished, deeply patinated and “nutty”, but it has to be real, un-interfered with and irresistibly tactile. We all somehow naturally recognize great surfaces when we see them and these chairs boast a wonderful “skin”, with the deep slightly red tone to the ancient oak timber, the surface well softened by years of handling and enhanced by historic oil and wax finishes, which have built up a lustrous polished surface.

Another visitor to the shop likes me to try and score items we have on a scale of 1-10, also much like wine writers do sometimes. This can be a testing process as we try only to source special or unusual examples and vernacular pieces tend to be unique, yet my analysis has to be reasoned, informed and comparative. So I have to go back to the reasons the piece excited me enough to buy it and then think back as to when and where I have seen vaguely comparable examples and how their features and qualities compare. Then I realised of course that subliminally I do the same thing every time I look at pieces and if the invisible score is high enough then we try and buy the piece in question.

I believe that the qualities that need to be considered to arrive at an overall score are as follows; Material/Medium, Period, Quality, Look, Scale, Style, Condition, Rarity, Character, Originality, Colour and Surface. It is hard to bless something with a perfect 10/10 and I’ve often wondered how expert figure skating and diving judges are occasionally brave enough to do so, particularly when some of the elements they are scoring are so subjective. I am also an optimist and always hope that somewhere sometime we will find something we consider better than anything we’ve seen before. But in the meantime and back to this set of chairs, I believe they meet the highest standard in the categories I mention above, but in order to leave the pleasure of one day discovering an even better original set, I’d theoretically score them at 9.9/10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

20 August 2015

Simply an Old Table

Sometimes the simplest forms and most economic lines lend a confident understated presence to a piece of vernacular furniture. We recently discovered this unusually refined and seemingly simple farmhouse dining table and were immediately taken with its form and details.

The three plank cleated top is unusually fine and thin, which in combination with the generous overhang at each end creates a sense of elegance not normally associated with such a sturdy working piece.

The classic joined frame, with pegged mortice and tenon detailing, is created with a slightly inset frieze rail, which creates exciting touches of light and shadow in each corner. The rectangular “H” stretchers and square section legs, also lend a subtle sophistication to the design and the end stretchers mirror the frieze rail by being inset by the same distance.

There is something satisfying about the scale and relationship between the upright rectangular stretchers and the robust, geometric, almost architectural square legs, which is enhanced by the height at which the stretchers are joined to the legs, giving it a "leggy coltish" feel.

Each joint is pegged, including the stretchers, the long joints with a double peg and the shorter ones with a single peg. It is these details of construction and design that define the quality of a piece and separate the best from the ordinary.

Then there is the scale. This is a generous and elegant six seater, yet looks tidy and of diminutive proportions, due to the well drawn design. It can stand comfortably in a small space and would still be functional to prepare food on, to dine at and at other times or in different circumstances, would make a unique and stylish writing desk. It is also bold and confident enough to command attention and be comfortable in a large open space.

It is created entirely from solid English oak which has developed a characteristically individual surface. The top has a slightly paler honey coloured surface, due to years of assiduous cleaning, scrubbing and being washed with daylight. Whilst the frame and stretchers are slightly warmer, more richly patinated and nutty in colour, as they have acquired a surface skin from smoke, steam, handling and polishing over generations. These qualities are hard to imitate, they are individual and unique.

Sometimes it can be rewarding to look at things a little more closely, to identify the elements that make them interesting, unusual or somehow special and satisfying. After all this is simply an old table, but do you see how cool it is now?

30 July 2015

Well it has been a hectic and rewarding summer.

Firstly our building and renovation project here in Battersea is finally complete. We have added an extension to the rear of the building at first floor level, completely renovated the old shell of the building and modernised all electrics, lighting and heating. We designed and built a new shop front and have finally hung up our RYA trade sign on the old wrought iron bracket. We are all safely back in the office and the shop is open again Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm. For the time being we are not re-opening on Saturdays, because after nearly 25 years Odette has finally retired and we are waiting until after the summer holidays before recruiting a re-placement “Saturday person”.

Jen also left us shortly before building work started, as her husband was posted to Switzerland and they and their two boys moved over there. We loved having her back again and all miss having her around. We will also be looking to recruit someone to replace her in the early autumn..

We have had an exciting couple of months and are pleased to have received several awards during the summer of 2015.

Firstly Robert won the Antiques Young Guns Founders Award for his role as “the most outstanding and ongoing contribution”, as Mentor of the Year, to the young, dedicated and talented Swedish Furniture specialist Daniel Larsson. The Antiques Young Guns movement has proved a popular and effective initiative and during 2015 expanded its reach to the United States, where they are also planning a mentoring programme as for the nominated winners of their first annual awards. Robert meantime is continuing his association with Daniel and will be working with him again at the Malmo Fair at the end of August, where in respect of his growing international reputation Daniel has been elected onto the Advisory Board.

At the beginning of July, House and Garden Magazine published their internationally respected 2015 List of the Top 100 Interior Designers Robert and Josyane are listed as a New Entry for their “sought after” design consultancy Riviere Interiors. Having previously been listed by the Financial Times, it is always exciting to be recognized by design industry insiders and journalists for our interior design work. Design is inevitably somewhat subjective and also subject to the vagaries of fashion, so it is pleasing to continue to attract recognition and some critical acclaim for our work.

We also enjoyed showing for the sixth consecutive year at Masterpiece London, we have exhibited at Masterpiece since its inception and have enjoyed watching it grow into the country’s most significant and stylish Art and Antiques Fair. This year we enjoyed even more visitors and sales than in the preceding years, as well as winning the Masterpiece Highlight Award for works of Vernacular and Folk Art, for the remarkable large blue painted, primitive Base Lute that was exhibited at the front of our stand.

For their 7th July “The Country Home” sale, Christie’s at South Kensington featured Robert as part of their “Tastemaker” initiative. Robert was interviewed and photographed in the illustrated catalogue which also included some “Get The Look” images. The auction included several works of naïve and folk art, alongside some vernacular furniture, treen and metalwork, so it was an appropriate publication for us to be involved with. The internet is making the art and antiques market place ever more accessible and we believe there is a valid place for both auctioneers and dealers to exist happily side by side. There are many enthusiastic and knowledgeable people working within our the industry and it seems that a spirit of co-operation can only be a benefit to all. Mark Stephen and Simon Green of Christies South Kensington are both well known to us and regularly vet with Robert and Josyane at leading antiques fairs in specialist disciplines including folk and naïve art, vernacular and painted furniture, treen and base metal wares and we consider them friends as well as valued colleagues. As independent dealers, we are though privileged to be able to individually select the pieces we handle and represent.

Robert is also honoured to have been elected Vice Chairman of the British Antiques Dealers Association. This venerable body of the industry’s leading dealerships, is nearly 100 years old and is currently Chaired by the energetic Chairman Michael Cohen of Cohen and Cohen the leading Chinese Export ceramics specialists. Michael is ambitious to modernise, restructure, and make the association more relevant to the 21st Century art and antiques market. BADA have already introduced some exciting new initiatives and are already working on plans and ideas to expand and update the association. Robert is delighted to be involved in helping to realise this vision.

Finally and just the day after Masterpiece closed, Robert and Josyane flew off to the Rockies in Wyoming, where they enjoyed the untamed mountains, plains, rivers and prairies, spent glorious days fly fishing for wild trout and enjoying the landscape from horseback, whilst also benefitting from the lack of WiFi and mobile phone connections. It is a place and lifestyle that helps us to put things into perspective and blow out some cobwebs.

We hope that you our friends and clients will also be able to enjoy some precious rest and recreation somewhere away from your normal daily lives, to recharge and feel excitingly alive.

 

 

02 June 2015

Masterpiece London, in just a few years, has established itself as the pre-eminent Art, Antiques and Design Fair in the UK.
We have participated since its inception in 2010 and have enjoyed seeing it grow its international reputation for showcasing some of the most interesting, unusual and spectacular art available on the world market.
Unlike old fashioned and traditional antique shows, Masterpiece has no boundaries in terms of dateline, material/medium or scale, it simply sets out to celebrate excellence.

Originally we felt that there was something a little awkward about the name of the event, but it has somehow just become synonymous with the show and its brand, so our vernacular pieces seem less vulnerable to being categorised as masterpieces and rather are able to breathe and be celebrated for the inherent qualities of their originality, surface and design.

We believe it is a wonderful forum to present and exhibit the finest and most exciting works of Folk, Naïve and Vernacular Art and for them to be shown alongside significant pieces by some of the great names from the history of art and spectacular examples of contemporary art and design.
So each year we try to source special pieces for Masterpiece and hopefully things that are fresh to the market.

This year we have been privileged to acquire works from three British private collections, including this iconic pair of continuous arm West Country “Yealmpton” Windsor armchairs, from a Cornish Private Collection. They are of classic form and closely similar to a documentary example found in the Gatehouse, Lanhydrock House, Bodmin, Cornwall, (illustrated and described in Bernard D Cotton, “The English Regional Chair, ACC 1990, page 276, Figure SW46).They date to c.1815 – 30 and both retain much historic painted surface. Cotton states “This design is described within the American tradition as the ‘continuous arm Windsor’, since the arms and back and back are made from a single cleft segment of wood, bent to form an attractive flowing line, resulting in a style of great elegance.” They are a rare vernacular type, apparently only created in the West Country and particularly in and around the village of Yealmpton, Devon. 

These two armchairs are the finest examples of their type that we know of and certainly that we have had the privilege of handling. They benefit from fine sinuous lines and deeply saddled seats, have great integrity and originality and remarkable colour and surface.

We have kept them aside to exhibit at Masterpiece London 2015.

 

 

08 April 2015

The Catalogue for our forthcoming Exhibition of Folk Art is now being printed and will be sent out in a couple of weeks.

We are coming into a busy period as we think about moving back into our renovated gallery at the end of April, to install and curate the 2015 Folk Art Exhibition, whilst concurrently preparing for Masterpiece London.

We have some rare and extraordinary works included in the Exhibition and others already put aside for Masterpiece London, many of which are entirely fresh to the market, with direct Provenance to remarkable Private Collections.

It is really rewarding and a privilege to handle pieces from these connoisseur collections, pieces that have been individually, passionately and rigorously selected and which have not been on the market for a generation or more.

Almost all the pieces from these private sources are special in some way and have great qualities. Several can fairly be described as “best” examples in their field.

Please sign up on our mailing list here, to receive news and updates, or for a copy of our forthcoming exhibition E-catalogue.

 

 

31 March 2015

Wind and Rain on our Journey.

There’s always something. Today it’s the wind, rain last week, and always the dovetailing of trades to work successfully side by side. However, all being well we are still aiming to re-open at the beginning of May and to be able to curate this year’s Exhibition in the re-modelled shop.

We are doing major structural and remedial work to the building, putting in a new shop front, modernising the services, re-doing the tired roofs and constructing a first floor level extension to the maisonette above. Even whilst updating the showroom lighting, we are very keen to retain the original atmosphere and style of the shop itself. The hand painted fireplace and distemper walls in the middle room, the original floor boards and terracotta tiles, the paint decorated and textured render in the back showroom and in the new window display area, I even plan to hand paint the Tree Design, (which I originally created for the British Interior Design Exhibition in 1991 and also had in the window for several years during the 90’s), of which we found traces of when stripping out. It is all very exciting.

We have missed the shop. Normally, we all enjoy our time working in our little Design Studio we have round the corner. It is a perfect place to come and do research, write catalogue captions, use the “library” and internet, we even have a sofa here, but it is not normally as crowded as it is currently, the phone didn’t used to ring so much and the shop was round the corner with its familiar filing system, log fire and coffee machine.

The reason we felt that now was the time to invest in the shop is because we have noticed and enjoyed people increasingly coming to visit us, to look at things in the flesh, touch and even smell them. It is the part of the art and antiques business that we have always enjoyed the most ourselves, the discovery, handling and chatting about the qualities of great old things.
It is also true, that like most “lifestyle” businesses, we are now conducting a remarkable percentage of our business online, using images and words alone.

Indeed we have been amazed at how many enquiries and sales we have received and made working from the Studio, in our current “shop-less” situation, but still we long to get back and start afresh in our long established shop/gallery space. Back where we enjoy the comforting habit of the rituals of opening and closing, chatting with our visitors, neighbours and window cleaner, enjoying our pieces displayed in balanced compositions around us, effectively lit and commanding their own space, with the luxury of being able to scoot off to the Studio for some peaceful and creative time and on buying trips!

So as this year’s Exhibition approaches, (and we can only simply remain hopeful that the shop will be ready in time), we continue with our planning. The draft of the Exhibition Catalogue was put to bed this morning, so it is now on its way to the printers, as our thoughts wander on to Masterpiece London and the next stage in our annual cycle.

All is the same, but somehow very different......just as it should be on any good journey I suppose.

24 March 2015

The A, B, (and multiple) C’s of mentoring.

It sounded so simple, just meet a young professional antique dealer, share a couple of days work, chat together, see if there is any advice you can give and maybe help them on their way. It looked like an opportunity to put a little something back and maybe help avoid some of the hazards put in the way of all young dealers.

The problem is that we are Antiques Dealers. We are independent, creative, restlessly demanding of ourselves and always aiming high. So once I’d agreed to do it, I wanted to do it well. But I didn’t know how.

I made an outline plan and draft agenda, before meeting my mentee. The first steps had been to investigate D Larsson Interior & Antik. Who were this young couple? What were their ambitions? What were their achievements, qualities and style and what opportunities were open to them? What nature of clientele were they hoping to attract ? Also what may they be lacking that could threaten their future success or impede them from achieving their goals or realising their vision?

You can get a good idea about dealers from the way they present themselves, their stock and their business and can discover a lot between the lines. We are in a visual industry and accustomed to judging pieces from images and dealers from the way they present their things. So I had built up an idea about them, before I made the connection. The story of that first encounter was written in my previous Journal entry of 3rd Sept 2014, entitled “LUCK, CHANCE, HAPPENSTANCE and ....INFORMATION”.

Now we are several months further into our association and as I suspected, the mentoring exercise has been at least as positive for me, as I hope it may have been for Daniel and Cristina.

Antique Dealers do not usually have the attributes common to management consultants, accountants, serial entrepreneurs or internet whizzes. Generally they are not really natural business people at all and few enter the trade with money or financial success as their primary concern or ultimate goal. It is a curious psychology that makes up a successful antique dealer and the component parts are usually a blend of passion, instinct, energy, creativity, an obstinate determination and the desire to make it alone, by backing their own judgement.

So Daniel and I were two of the original guinea pigs in the AYG initiative and we have plotted our own course. Recently this has grown to include our wives, (both also our respective business partners and integral to our businesses). As I mentioned before, the development and fruits of our association must remain private between us, but a few things have emerged that I would like to share and I hope may be useful to future mentors and mentees.

After days of non-stop and frank conversation, (bordering on what a successful antiques dealer colleague once described to me as “analysis paralysis”), we have established the A, B,(and multiple C’s) of mentoring and in so doing have managed to identify where there are faults and opportunities in our businesses. So instead of the story of our recent trip to Sweden, I thought I would simply share the core elements we identified as being beneficial to establishing and maintaining a small specialised antiques business in a confused and challenging market. Frankly these principles are as important to us, (after close to forty years trading), as they are to Daniel and Cristina in the formative years of growing D Larsson Interior & Antik.

There is no way round the absolute need for knowledge, this is the tool for which there is no substitute. Eye is subjective and impossible to analyse, but never to be underestimated. Vision is the unique idea you have that separates you from the rest, how you imagine marketing old things, to lend them new life, enhance their character and make them relevant to the contemporary world.

However during the course of our mentoring exercise, as we considered plans and ambitions for Daniel and Cristina’s business, I realised that there are so many other significant elements to consider, some practical, some aesthetic and some simply related to the desire to succeed, all of which need a degree of attention. So I started an alphabet of trigger words and noticed that the “C” words were looking dominant. A for : Accounts, Appetite, Attitude, Attention to detail; B for Branding, Buying the Best (you can find), Budget; C for Clients, Contacts, Cash Flow, Capital, Confidence, Cost Cutting,Collectors, Communication, Co-operation and Commitment.

Of course this is just a word game, but it helped to focus my mind on so much that we take for granted on the one hand and don’t consider on the other. Almost by definition, the most successful small antiques businesses are unique. They have their own character and individual style and are, however inconspicuously, somehow “Branded”.

So the closer we can get to putting all these aforementioned beans in a row, the better chance we stand of success and of establishing a place for ourselves in the market and creating our own “Brand”. Inevitably, if I continued down the alphabet I would include other important trigger words like Documentation, Exhibitions, Fairs, Focus, International, Internet, Integrity, Look, Margin, Marketing, Photography, Premises, Presentation, Promotions, Provenance, Research, Restoration, Service. Sourcing, Specialisation,  Unique, Websites, Vetting, and ending with the delightful “Zero Rated”.

As my time working and being in contact with Daniel has passed, I realize how many of these things need our regular attention and how many opportunities he and his generation are more naturally equipped and positioned to benefit from. We have discussed how the industry is changing and growing more competitive, yet simultaneously offering broader scope for expansion.

This is not a revolutionary blueprint for mentoring, but establishing a basic structure and identifying the goals of the young dealer, whilst occasionally referring to the alphabetic list, seems like a good place to start and then just watch them go.......... Daniel and Cristina are building the foundations of what I believe promises to be increasing success.

23 March 2015

The renovation work on the shop is well underway, at the time of writing the ground floor has no front and the large back gallery has no roof, well I suppose that is progress in some kind of way!

Ilse is now married and has returned to work today, so things at our temporary Studio “office” at least, are back to normal, except that now we need to address her as “Mrs” and no longer as “Ms”. We and you have missed her as our “virtual” presence has been conspicuously quiet and she will shortly be uploading fresh items to our online “Collections” again.

It is curious and reassuring how the dealer’s life carries on, even in uncommon circumstances, such as the business being homeless.

We are currently working on the catalogue for our forthcoming Folk Art Exhibition, whilst still sourcing and preparing for Masterpiece London.

We have been fortunate to acquire some remarkable pieces from exclusive Private Collections over the years and have recently sourced some genuinely fine pieces of country and vernacular furniture from an English Collection which have not been on the market for many years. Some of these will be included in our forthcoming Exhibition and others will be exhibited at Masterpiece for the first time in a generation or more. At a time when it is hard to find genuine interesting pieces, with style and integrity it is exciting to be offered such special pieces, fresh to the market.

We illustrate two unusually stylish upholstered wing armchairs, which also come with a private provenance, directly from the The Derek and Sally Green Collection; an extraordinary almost theatrical William & Mary Style example. and a Queen Anne Style example, upholstered in antique Verdure tapestry,

Josyane and I have just returned from a four day trip to Sweden, where we met up with Daniel and Cristina Larsson, (of D Larsson Antik & Interior) and travelled around Southern Sweden together on Friday and Saturday. Daniel is a member of the exciting new movement which harnesses and promotes younger professional members of the art and antiques industry, the Antiques Young Guns. For their annual awards in 2014 they introduced a mentoring scheme for a few selected winning members, of which Daniel was one. I was nominated as his mentor and we have shared both time and ideas together. This is a new initiative, that I believe will benefit both Mentors and Mentees and ultimately even the Antiques trade itself, when approached with the right balance of energy, ambition and fun, I will write more on this in due course.

Right now I will get back to writing catalogue captions and thinking about how to continue to run a business without a shop...... hopefully for only for a few more weeks..

20 February 2015

These images show the front and back of our gallery at the end of the first week’s work.

So much has been stripped out of the building, that virtually all that remains is the original skeleton of the building. As it should be.

Some little areas show interesting archival evidence of the various colours and finishes that we have had over the years and bring back fond memories.

We have also uncovered decorative remnants from long before our time, (the building once housed a small commercial laundry, with the family living above), all part of the history and fabric of the place.

The new shop front is being constructed off site and the structural work is now starting, in preparation for its installation.

New windows to the upper floors go in next week, exact replicas of the originals, in proper hardwood timber. Lovely!

Then the functional bits, a boiler and central heating for the first time in the building’s history and new electrics throughout, exciting.

We spent most of January in New York and the last two weeks clearing out of 68 BBR and making final preparations for the works, but now we are up and running again, making plans, sourcing and preparing for our Folk Art Exhibition and for Masterpiece London.

We are now all settled in our Design Studio nearby. The mail, deliveries and telephone have been successfully diverted and we have already made some successful bids, sourced some interesting pieces and made a few sales. Life carries on.

Running a design project for ourselves, for the first time in 27 years feels strange, but we are enjoying it and are looking forward to seeing it develop.

Now we look forward to the weekend, time for a short rest, aahh ....... apart from those telephone bids tomorrow.......

05 February 2015

New York was as New York is in Winter.

Bright lights burning late into the night; low slung squashed yellow taxis; general hustle & bustle; huge highly polished fire engines horns blaring; street food vendors wrapped up like Eskimos offering unidentifiable fare; industrial scale snow ploughs with chained wheels leaving scars in their wake and excited pillars of steam climbing from the streets suggesting that Manhattan was built on a volcano. It is a curious, unique and highly charged city.

Then there was also the warning of the most severe blizzard to hit the city, which never really came, yet took its toll on visitor numbers at the show, but only for a day. There was some snow and it was seasonally chilly, luckily without too much of that bitter numbing wind that whistles between the blocks and along the avenues. 

Yet interest, business and demand were encouragingly strong at the 2015 Winter Show, with significant sales being made all around the floor, right from the start, with Early Americana, Primitive and Folk Art being among the most popular offerings.

We enjoyed our visit again and have become accustomed to starting our year off in NYC and it is a privilege to exhibit at the Winter Show. 

Now work begins for real back here in Battersea.

Saturday is the last day of business in the shop as we have known it.
Josyane and I started our life together here, we lived in the apartment above the shop for twelve years and our first born son lived here until his brother was born two years later and we moved to live in Wandsworth.

We built our business here, made friends, met clients, and the little flat featured in the World of Interiors magazine in the mid 80s. Such memories help make us feel somehow attached to the building and the neighbourhood.

But now is the time for change. We need to do some renovation work to the property and feel that now is the right time to invest in the future.
So we close temporarily, whilst we create a new shop front, update and develop the showroom and flat and start a new chapter.

We plan to re-open in May when we will host our Folk Art Exhibition in the new space, which we hope will retain the same spirit and atmosphere, whilst being simultaneously welcoming and inspiring.

Our contact with all of you, will, for the time being anyway, largely be here, right here online, where we will keep you updated with our news, progress and recent acquisitions, as we look forward to the next chapter.......

15 January 2015

After thirty seven years consistent trading from our building here in Battersea, we are temporarily closing, to carry out major renovation and development work, and will be closing the doors after business hours on Saturday 7th February 2015.

We plan to re-open the gallery at the beginning of May and to celebrate the new space at the Preview of our Annual Exhibition of Folk Art 7th May.

So once we return from Exhibiting in New York, we will be sorting through a professional lifetime's worth of stock, reference materials, fixings and clutter, before we all move over to run the office from our Design Studio nearby.

During the works, we plan to increasingly use our Website and Social Media to keep you all informed of our new acquisitions, movements and progress.

This is an exciting moment in our story and we look forward to exploring the extraordinary potential and possibilities of running a “virtual business” during the building project.

Our website and internet presence have played an increasingly significant part in our development and we will now have a little more time to concentrate on them.

At the same time, we have noticed increased traffic and business at the Gallery during 2014, partly due to the Tate Britain’s first National Exhibition of British Folk Art and also possibly because of the rapid development of the Battersea Design District and the new Royal College of Art Dyson and Woo buildings in our immediate neighbourhood.

However, we also feel a genuine change in the air, we have noted a growing interest in the works we show, particularly from a younger generation, and believe that it is the right time to invest in the future and create an environment that will continue to be inspiring to visit.

Watch this space............

09 January 2015

We are finalising plans for our exhibition at the Winter Antiques Show and fly to New York City at the end of next week.

This will be our fifteenth consecutive year at this prestigious show and we are excited to be participating again.

America’s oldest and most respected Antiques Show is held in the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue and showcases leading specialist American and International dealerships.

It is an inspiring way to start our year and we look forward to installing our collection of recent acquisitions.

We hope to see many of our friends and clients again this year and to introduce ourselves to those of you we have not yet met.  

22 December 2014

NEW YORK WINTER ANTIQUES SHOW

23 January - 1 February 2015

"We are excited at the prospect of exhibiting for the 15th consecutive year at this most highly respected and longest established Antiques Fair in the United States. We will soon be be publishing a catalogue featuring some of the items that we have sourced and selected to show at this premier event. The exhibits are currently on their way over to the USA and we look forward to presenting them in our re-designed booth (No5) and to meeting with friends and clients, old and new."

If you would like to visit us at this year's Winter Antiques Show in New York, please email office@robertyoungantiques.com for a complimentary Guest Ticket.

 

17 December 2014

It’s really here now, the sun kept shining for so long and the warm autumn extended to keep Winter at bay, but it's arrived and now it’s almost Christmas.

Always a busy time here as we pack up and send off our consignment for the New York Winter Antiques Show , prepare the Spring Catalogue and finally get ready to enjoy the seasonal festivities.

Most of the work for these now completed, our minds turn towards log fires, candlelight, ordering real tuck and indulging in nostalgic memories.

Our business revolves around a kind of aesthetic nostalgia. Lifestyles that were dictated by the seasons, traditions, folklore, old ways of making things, homespun fabrics, artificial light made with oil, homemade tallow candles and rush lights, the storage and preparation of food all somehow relate to the artefacts and objects we now revere for their wonderful age honoured forms and tactile surfaces.

The survivors are objects and works that were cared for and have a quality about them that multiple generations have recognised and which have saved them from being discarded as obsolete or unfashionable.

A rare diminutive Spice Cupboard from the Queen Anne period, the door enhanced with detailed geometric parquetry and enclosing a fully fitted interior with nine original drawers. This fine little cupboard retaining its working lock and key, hinges and drop ring handles, just as it was made, yet now enhanced by a glowing patina and aged individual character.

A simple and well drawn domestic Wine Goblet dating from the mid seventeenth century, how can this have survived? Turned from a single piece of solid pear wood, with an historic repaired age crack down one side, expertly “sewn” together with metal wire in an intricate pattern, to hold it together and still retain liquid. Now patinated like old leather, burnished and glowing.

Then a little turned wood Spice Pot from the mid nineteenth century, not so ancient, but wonderfully hand decorated to simulate serpentine stone, (a material highly prized in the Renaissance and by collectors of “souvenirs” on the Grand Tour in the early C19th), still with a tightly fitting lid, the little spire finial intact and paintwork as clever and deceptive as the day it was made.

None of these are constructed of precious materials, but they survived, they are the winners, the ones that made it through to tell us their story and help enable us to imagine the world and circumstances in which they were created. To still enjoy the musty hint of spice engrained in them and the glorious character and “skin” that their journeys have bestowed upon them is our pleasure.

These, like all the pieces we handle, have been around for many Christmases.

We hope you will enjoy some traditional festivities and cheer. Enjoy some live music and song. Be merry, share happiness and smile with those you love.

Happy Christmas from all of us at Robert Young Antiques

 

18 November 2014

Our new Winter Catalogue #40 has been published and distributed and we have already started work on our Spring Catalogue #41.

However, between these and our couple of major shows, interesting and exciting pieces come and go. Earlier this month for example, amongst other things we sold an extraordinary and documentary massive early Leather Bombard. Measuring 2 ft (61cms) in height, inscribed with name, place and date 1765 and with direct Provenance to two exceptional Private Collections, it was one of the finest and most impressive examples known to exist and a privilege to handle. It has now gone to another remarkable collection. We are permanently on the lookout for such things, as well as previously undiscovered or unrecognised works of Vernacular and Folk Art, but cannot be everywhere.

Happily we have developed a great network of contacts and friends who send us details of works they discover or know to be coming onto the market in out of the way places or from local estates, which they believe will appeal to us and have the qualities we look for. Between them, they help unearth some fine pieces that we may otherwise never get to see or know about. During the course of this weekend for example we were offered pieces from Scotland, the East Midlands, Dorset and Sweden, all interesting in one way or another. From time to time, we like to acknowledge the importance of the people who find such interesting things for us and remind others of how important such relationships are.

In a world that has gone information bonkers and everybody knows what you had for breakfast before you leave home, it’s wonderful to have people with informed and selective eyes, out looking for things to share with us. So while we do the washing up after breakfast on a Monday morning, sometimes we have already started off our week with purchases of things that have been sourced elsewhere, before we head off on the scent of something in another direction.

We never know when we will find or part with anything, such is the excitingly random pattern of our working life.

 

29 October 2014

Battersea Park is beginning to be tucked up for winter and the fallen leaves are creating patterns over the grass of the playing fields.
The clocks have been turned back, the open fire is flickering in the shop again and we accept that Autumn is here.
So as we stacked up a new pile of seasoned logs today, our thoughts turn indoors again.
We have just received a new batch of our “Signature” scented candles, so for those who have been asking, we now have them in stock again.
Our Winter Catalogue #40 is being mailed out this week and the digital version should also be available soon.
Somehow wonderful old things keep finding their way to us, then leave........and the cycle continues.

 

 

03 September 2014

LUCK, CHANCE, HAPPENSTANCE and...INFORMATION.

Antiques Young Guns Heavy Artillery Mentoring

Daniel Larsson won me as a prize in the 2014 Antiques Young Guns Awards, ouch!

Perhaps it would be rather more accurate to say that in recognition of his achievement of building an internationally known antiques business, specialising primarily in original Swedish vernacular furniture, in a remarkably short time, he was selected as one of the winners of the innovative AYG Mentoring initiative and I was dumped on him as his personal mentor.

The mentoring scheme was introduced for the first time this year and as it has no history to build on and no formal guidelines or template to adhere to, neither Daniel nor I really knew what form it should take, or how to approach it.

However, I like the principles behind the Young Guns and have followed the development of the movement over the past couple of years. I admire their enthusiasm and vision and think the most talented of them are introducing a creative energy and individuality to their business’ and therefore also into the trade as a whole. All this during a period of remarkable change in taste, presentation and marketing of art and antiques.

So with this in mind and having been invited to act as a mentor, my intention was, and remains, to make as genuine a contribution as possible and do what I can to help move Daniel and Cristina’s business forward.

The antiques business has an amazingly rich history of “mentors”. Ask any successful dealer their story and you will find it will inevitably be peppered with references and anecdotes of older dealers who influenced, encouraged, helped or inspired them, but never previously in a formal framework like this. So I wondered how, in this slightly artificial environment,  I could condense some of the important things I have learnt from others and pass them on to Daniel and Cristina effectively.

So, prior to meeting him, I set about doing a bit of research, (as dealers do), into D.LARSSON Interiör & Antikhandel and gradually prepared what I considered might be a helpful “agenda” for us to consider on our first day together and looking forward.

My initial research showed Daniel and I to have a few potentially relevant things in common. He is married and working in a family partnership with a foreign girl, they will soon have two children, he is practical and hands on, he has a sensitivity for the vernacular and historic painted surfaces, he has a small shop, he works internationally, he likes the sea, a chat, a drink and is ambitious. Seemed like a good start and I don’t know how the Judges selected the pairings of mentors and mentees, but it felt like I had been dealt a good hand.

We emailed a few times, chatted on the phone a bit and arranged to meet in the UK a week or so ago. I picked him up at Gatwick.

He had the smallest carry-on bag for two days and nights in London you could imagine, (which I later discovered also contained a large pack of the most delicious coffee he had brought me as a gift from his hometown of Helsingborg, "just hoping you would like coffee"), was comfortably and casually dressed, in that cool Scandinavian way, topped off with headgear that somehow defines his generation. He excuded energy and warmth. First impressions were positive.

We chatted as we drove. At this stage I did not share my pre-prepared "agenda" with him, because I needed to know more about what his objectives were and to somehow define his ambitions. How did he hope to develop his business? What was his personal history, what were his motivations, passions, interests, inspirations and most importantly of all, what did he hope to achieve from our time together?

It seemed pointless to try and influence things at this stage, as this initiative is only likely to achieve anything if it is tailored to meet his targets. We chatted all day, I can’t remember ever having such a full-on conversation, for that length of time, certainly not with somebody I had only just met, since heady student days.

During the course of the day we visited a few dealers, had a pub lunch, dropped in unannounced to see one of my clients homes, (just because we were passing), looked at some of their collection and wandered around their garden, drove back to London, had supper at a little local Italian and a nightcap with Don Grant, the Arts Correspondent of Kensington and Chelsea Today and his welcoming family. We were still chatting.

During the course of the first morning I mentioned to Daniel that there are probably two major components to developing an antiques business. The first is the selection of stock, the second is to establish a clientele, (as any business can only be as strong as its client base). Leaving the prerequisite demands for edited stock selection and pricing aside for now, in my experience the other significant elements common to most successful dealerships, are: Information, Presentation, Eye, Reputation, Individuality, Intuition.......and Luck.

The problem is that all of these vital ingredients, with the important exception of "Information", are largely out of our direct control, (since Presentation is inextricably tied up with Eye and Individuality, which are somehow innate), so we need to understand that Information is our most precious and valuable controllable asset. Hence it is neither prudent nor natural for us to give it away! I explained that it may from time to time be difficult for me to answer questions for this reason and that for the purposes of this exercise we needed to be as open as possible with each other and respect absolute confidentiality between us. So I'm afraid that I am not in a position to share the juicy details of our discussions or action plans here. 

However, Daniel now has some new ideas and objectives, both specific and general, that dovetail in with the vision that he and Cristina had already formulated for their development. The "agenda" I had prepared did prove useful when we addressed it later in the day and when we reviewed it again, through slightly bleary eyes and with thick heads the next morning, before heading off our separate ways. Exciting.

Daniel has already worked himself into a good position. He has a great geographical, cultural and linguistic advantage to exploit his expertise in early Swedish furniture, he is developing his international business relationships and online presence, he has energy, passion and ambition. I think I may learn a lot from our times together.

It may seem churlish to mention, whilst discussing the possible merits of a mentoring scheme, but I did tell Daniel that luck, chance and happenstance have really been the most powerful forces in moving our business forward. Occasions when a chance word or meeting led us to valuable information, a great discovery, important clients or opportunities. When I look back it was moments such as these that have had the most significant impact on our business. But we have still always had a vision, supported by plans and objectives which we review regularly. Maybe without these we may never have benefitted from the luck?

Being nominated as mentor to D. Larsson Interiör & Antikhandel may just prove to be another such "lucky" moment for both of us.

 

 

 

 

 

29 August 2014

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Tradition dictates that summer business activity is generally quiet and holidays restful.

We left for the Wyoming Rockies the day after Masterpiece London closed and lost our normal daily preoccupations and responsibilities in the sage brush and rivers, under huge blue skies and cotton wool clouds.

Hardly normal in the conventional sense, but excitingly invigorating to wade waist deep in wild waters and to occasionally cover and enjoy the dramatic landscape on horseback, however uncomfortable, stiff, knackered and thirsty it may make you. Certainly it all seems further away even than the thousands of miles that actually separate our everyday lives from there. That is of course the reason we cherish it and feel so privileged and choose to return year after year.

Our time in the West is not relaxed nor restful in the conventional sense. Our days are generally long, hot and dusty punctuated with occasional short dramatic storms, bursts of hail and heavy rain. We start early, are active all day, showered and on our first beer by twilight, sharing stories of spectacular wildlife, reporting on river conditions, productive fishing flies and hatches, together with inevitable tales of fish we caught and the monsters that got away.

No mobile phones, no emails, no queues or traffic. Simply energetic, often humbling outdoor hours, spent in a naturally commanding landscape, rewarding for the dramatic contrast they make with our normal routine existence. Which is why it is so restful and restorative.

Life of course continues as normal at RYA in our absence and the summer weeks of July and August 2014 broke the trend and have been unusually busy Summer months.

The landmark British Folk Art Exhibition has continued to attract thousands of visitors to Tate Britain and has been acclaimed in multiple positive reviews, (we will post many of these on this site in due course). Generally this first National Exhibition has exceeded all expectations and as a result we have received new visitors here, who have been inspired or stimulated by the exhibition. It is wonderful that it will be going on to Compton Verney from 27 September to 14 December 2014 , so more will have a chance to see and enjoy it.

We at RYA have also enjoyed some exciting reviews and coverage in the press and media over the summer and it seems that finally Folk Art has been invited to “come out” into the mainstream art environment and has done so in style.

Masterpiece London 2014, is now confidently established. It has an air of calm assurance in its stylish temporary structure, in its elegant setting on the south lawns of the Royal Hospital Chelsea and attracted more visitors and active business than all the preceding years. It has built on strong foundations and in our eyes is now firmly established as London’s premier commercial art/antiques event. This year we met and conducted business with clients from all over the world and are delighted to have exhibited consistently since the inaugural show in 2010. We hope that those of you who came enjoyed your visits and will be inspired to return again next year.

Curiously visits to us here in Battersea, and to our website have also increased during the course of this year and possibly because of the British Folk Art Exhibition this trend did not slow down during July and August. The RYA website has become increasingly active as a separate “shop front” and selling platform with photographic images becoming increasingly important in our professional lives.

A similar trend has developed in the Wyoming valleys, where sightings of huge bull moose, brown bears, longhorn sheep, mountain lion and massive birds of prey, or tales of great wild fish, caught and released, can no longer be told with hand gestures and descriptions. In any self respecting bar, where fly fishermen and outdoorsmen gather in the gloaming, all stories now need to be supported by photographic evidence and details.

So this is the point where our professional and recreational lives share common ground. Where rarity, great beauty and the exceptional are concerned, seeing is believing.

 

20 June 2014

Masterpiece London 2014

These last two weeks have been very exciting and I write this having just loaded our collection for exhibition at Masterpiece London, 2014.

We will be at stand C11, which is currently having a bespoke hand painted wall canvas installed.

We have also created a new layout for the show this year and look forward to putting it all together over the weekend.

The shop will be open as usual during the run of Masterpiece 2014 and if any of you have not yet received your complimentary tickets, please contact the office and we will make the necessary arrangements for you.

For those of you who have not yet had the chance to visit Tate Britain to see the first national exhibition of British Folk Art, please note that it is conveniently situated just along the embankment from the South Grounds of The Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Masterpiece is the pre-eminent Art | Antiques | Design event in London and 2014 is its fifth incarnation. Housed, as always, in a remarkable purpose built temporary structure, there will be a wide range of exhibits from some of the world’s leading specialists. It is spacious, comfortable and inspiring. Each year there are exceptional works to see and enjoy, we are confident that this year will be no exception.

We look forward to seeing many of you there next week.

 

10 June 2014

We are in the countdown to our exhibition at Masterpiece London 2014, for the fifth consecutive year, where we will be showing some fine works of British Folk Art, to compliment and compare with works on display, further along the Embankment, at the Tate.

British Folk Art at Tate Britain is now open. I feel like pinching myself as I write the words.

The nature of the works which we have sought out, exhibited and valued for the best part of forty years are no longer quite so “fringe”, “niche” or “neglected”.

Tate Curator Martin Myrone and artist Jeff McMillan have together curated the show which they describe as a “proposition”.  They have selected works which they believe have artistic merit of one kind or another and that have previously been described or exhibited as “Folk Art”.

They have not been drawn into explanations or definitions, they have simply put together a visually compelling collection, in multifarious media, to propose the idea that they have qualities worth recognising and exploring.

After the Press and Preview day yesterday, notices and reviews have already been published in notable newspapers including The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Express, The London Evening Standard and in specialist press including The Art Newspaper, ATG “London Summer Capital of Art” and House & Garden periodical. British Folk Art has finally “come out”.

I will re-visit, maybe later today and probably then again on other occasions. I already knew some of the works very well, but enjoyed seeing them there, in the joyfully coloured galleries of Tate Britain, as conceived and directed by Martin and Jeff.

Most importantly this small exhibition announces a formal recognition of British Folk Art and acknowledges that it has played a part in the history and development of British Art.

Please make time to visit the show. You may not respond positively to it all, but I believe it plays an important role in the development and understanding of the qualities inherent to genuine naive and primitive art and that it will make you smile. Try it!

06 June 2014

We have been planning and looking forward to June 2014 for a long time and now suddenly everything seems to be happening so quickly!

The fifth Masterpiece London, Art, Antiques and Design Show opens in twenty days time.

We are happy to say, with confidence, that we shall be exhibiting some “museum quality” works at Masterpiece 2014, as other similar and important works of British Folk Art are being shown in the Tate Exhibition, which will be open and runs concurrently with Masterpiece, just along the Embankment from the Royal Hospital Chelsea South Grounds.

We have exhibited at Masterpiece since its inception and recognise that the founders, had the courage and conviction to give the London summer season the premier Art, Antiques and Design show it deserved and had long been waiting for.

They had the foresight to secure a wonderful central London location and the creativity to develop a unique space and atmosphere in which to showcase great works from multifarious disciplines and periods, sourced and presented by some of the world’s leading specialists.

Like all well managed events, it has been tweaked and fine tuned each year, culminating in the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful year in 2013. With such positive momentum and an amazing rapidly established international reputation, we can only see it developing the brand, already associated with extraordinary works, shown in a convivial space, in a remarkable temporary building and are proud to continue our participation and association with it.

We will be sending out a series of Newsletters/Journals over the coming days, illustrating some of the pieces we will be exhibiting and other details in the build up towards the opening.

For those of you who may be interested in visiting Masterpiece 2014, who are not already on our mailing list, please contact us if you would like a complimentary invitation to visit or if you would like any further information or details about the event.

As we thought, June 2014 is set to be an exciting month.

05 June 2014

Our 2014 Folk Art Exhibition is over and almost all the sold pieces have left us for their new homes.

It has become an important and enjoyable couple of weeks for us, as we see many of you here enjoying the pieces and sharing your thoughts and responses.

Curiously we continue to see as many visitors at the exhibition as we used to, but the visits have become more evenly spread out over the exhibition period, since much of the buying is now done directly from the Catalogue and our Online Catalogue, rather than at the Preview.

Direct catalogue sales and online business have increased greatly over the years, from both British and overseas clients and it is always rewarding to hear from those of you who write or call to say how pleased you are when you receive the pieces in the flesh.

Now our attention turns immediately to the preview party and opening of the Tate Exhibition of British Folk Art next week.

Excitement is building and there has already been some excellent press coverage of the show including:

"Folk Revival" in the BBC Antiques Roadshow Magazine

"Folk art, does it include your nan's knitting?" in The Guardian

"Tate Britain rejects ‘elitist’ Old Masters as Turner makes way for thatched king" in The Times

"Toby jugs and a straw King Alfred: The Tate celebrates British Folk Art" in The Express

"Remembering art's folk heroes" in the ATG supplement London Summer Capital of Art.

"Folk Tales" in House and Garden, July 2014

We have spoken to several other art critics and journalists who are interested in seeing the exhibition and in the concept of Folk Art being shown in Tate Britain.

Innovative Tate Curator Martin Myrone, Co-Curator Ruth Kenny and artist Jeff McMillan have worked tirelessly and enthusiastically to make this happen and will present the works they have selected in this groundbreaking show in an unconventional way and with fresh eyes.

We cannot think of a more fitting institution than Tate Britain to host this first national Exhibition of British Folk Art and applaud their initiative and vision.

Hopefully many of you will be able to visit the show which opens next Tuesday 10th June and runs until the end of August 2014.

 

14 May 2014

Our 2014 Exhibition of British and European Folk Art has three days left to run.

We have had many visitors over the past week and it is rewarding to have had such enthusiasm for the pieces, so many positive comments and consistent sales.

Hopefully we will see a few more of you here before the exhibition closes on Saturday.

We try to keep all the exhibits here for the run of the show, only a very a few have already gone, (as they needed to be go as part of international consignments) and a couple more leave tomorrow evening. The vast majority is still here to be seen and will remain here until we close on Saturday.

If you purchased pieces and would like to collect, we would appreciate it if you come after lunch on Saturday. We close at 4.00pm.

Then we immediately have other excitements to look forward to, firstly Tate Britain’s innovative exhibition of British Folk Art, “The House That Jack Built” opens on 10th June in under a month followed shortly by Masterpiece London on 26th June.

 

 

 

30 April 2014

Dear Friends & Clients

Please note the gallery will be closed from Friday 2nd May whilst we set up for our Annual Exhibition of British & European Folk Art. We will re-open on Thursday 8th May at 11am, and items illustrated in the catalogue will be on view at that time. 

We will be answering telephone calls and emails during set-up so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

The Exhibition will be open from 11.00am - 6.00pm on Thursday 8th May and will then be open daily from 9.30am - 5.30pm on Weekdays, 10.00am - 4.00pm on Saturdays. The Exhibition closes on Saturday 17th May at 4pm.

We hope you will find a moment to come and enjoy the pieces over a drink and a chat.

The Team at Robert Young Antiques

09 April 2014

EXHIBITION OF BRITISH & EUROPEAN FOLK ART

Robert Young Antiques


8th -17th May 2014 

This year our Annual Exhibition opens just a month before Tate Britain hosts the first ever National Exhibition of British Folk Art. There are historic connections of naive and folk art with Tate. Jim Ede, for example, worked as an assistant curator at Tate before setting up home and gallery at Kettles Yard in Cambridge. Ede collected works by and explored the relationships between Ben Nicholson, Christopher Wood and artists from the British Modern and St Ives Schools, with untutored primitive artists like Alfred Wallis and Bryan Pearce. Pioneering Tate Curator Martin Myrone, working together with contemporary artist Jeff McMillan have brought together a diverse collection of works in multiple media for the Tate show. Their intention is to challenge historic conceptions of the genre and to help reconceptualise this body of non-professional, untutored native artwork, by considering the creative process and the “Art”, rather than the “Folk”. Tate Britain is the National Gallery of exclusively British Art and there is nowhere more appropriate for this pioneering show to be held. The curators say they see it as a “Proposition” rather than a survey and are optimistic that it will awaken interest and provoke a re-evaluation of the influence and significance of these works in a wider context.

The "Art World" has recently witnessed an explosion of interest in “Outsider” and “Self Taught” art which culminated in significant exposure at the 2013 Venice Biennale and The Hayward Gallery's "The Alternative Guide to the Universe" 2013 Exhibition. So gradually these previously fringe and often overlooked works are being reconsidered for their inherent expressive qualities and finding their place in the overall narrative of Art History.

It is hugely exciting and rewarding for us to see this evolve and to see British Folk Art represented at a national show in the hallowed galleries of Tate Britain.

Our 2014 Exhibition includes works in various media and reflects the qualities of creativity we believe are at the heart of Folk Art. We cherish the individuality of composition, form and texture found in these pieces. This is uninhibited art reflecting the pleasure and sensitivity of the makers and artists, which somehow celebrates a freedom of expression and an inspired vision.

Our new Summer Catalogue #39 illustrates and describes over fifty pieces from the Exhibition and will be available from the first week of May.

The Exhibition opens at 11am on Thursday 8th May and is open to everyone - collectors, curators, designers, enthusiasts, students, dealers and artists alike. We find this is a great opportunity for old friends, clients and those of you who have not previously visited us, to come and discover and hopefully be inspired or moved by the works over a drink and a chat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

03 April 2014

CURATING OUR FOLK ART EXHIBITION AND MASTERPIECE LONDON 2014

Curating is what we do.

It is a small word that disguises multiple disciplines. 

Initially we need to identify, examine and source authentic works which are also interesting and of some significance in their field. 

They then need to be professionally conserved, photographed, researched, catalogued and ultimately earmarked for specific exhibitions. 

It is exciting selecting groups of objects and artworks for these major shows, whilst it is also a detailed and challenging process. 

Now is the hectic season here at RYA, as we discuss the pieces and combinations for  our Annual Exhibition of Folk Art and installation at Masterpiece London 2014. 

It is a rigorous process, driven by our belief that composition, space, colour, texture and juxtaposition are important elements in every catalogue and exhibition we create.

Our new Summer Catalogue, No.39, has gone to Press, so we are now preparing some other material and a Newsletter entitled simply “Details of our Exhibition” and it will include just that. 

Please contact us if you would like to be included in our Newsletter Mailing list, would like a Catalogue or a Ticket for Masterpiece London.

 

 

28 March 2014

"HOW COULD I KNOW OR UNDERSTAND IF I HAD A GOOD EYE ?"

We work in an industry rich in oral tradition, we learn from each other, from our peers and predecessors and we all need some kind of support or help at various times.

Jim Kiddell must have been in his late 70s and already a legend in the Art and Antiques world, when I had the luck to meet and chat to him socially, entirely by chance.

Mr Kiddell, as I knew him, had spent his professional life at Sotheby’s and apart from being highly regarded, was also passionate, articulate, modest and generous.

At the time I was a junior trainee at Sotheby’s and unknown to him. I was an uninformed 21 year old, ambitious, enthusiastic and addicted. I was in awe of several junior cataloguers, only a year or so senior to me who seemed already to have spectacular specialist expertise and I aspired not only to develop my own, but to harness such knowledge with energy and ambition to create a life working for myself as an independent dealer.

I asked Mr Kiddell for his advice about this and how I might set about following such a dream. He spoke to me for a long time and as though there was nothing else that mattered to him. He asked me questions about how and where and with what I was planning to start this business enterprise, (none of which I honestly had any clear idea about), but he was patient, interested and considerate.

He chatted freely and informatively, but in summary he said that he would basically advise against such an initiative because there were too many hurdles in a profession where the rewards were generally small, the work demands total dedication, the competition is fierce and few succeed.

But he added that if it was something that I felt I “really needed to do, rather than wanted to do; if my passion to do it overrode such realities; and I was prepared for the setbacks and hurdles I would inevitably encounter”, then neither Sotheby’s, he or anyone else would probably be able to stop me. In which case he said I would “need to work harder and longer than the others, to study, look, and look again, remember what I had looked at and look again” and I would also “need luck and most importantly a “good eye”, the vital ingredient”, he said, “and the one that can’t be taught or learnt”.

How could I know or understand if I had a “good eye”? I enquired hastily and earnestly. “Ahh that’s just it”, he said, “You can’t, it‘s only others who can judge that”. It was hard, but sound advice.

The Director of the training scheme at Sotheby’s at that time was Derek Shrub, he was difficult, demanding, acerbic, charismatic and canny. I hated him for months, but as the curtains opened and the world of analytical observation he was introducing to me gradually came into some kind of focus, suddenly I found that I knew and could asses things about objects I had never seen before. I warmed to him greatly, and remain hugely indebted to him. He was a support and friend to Josyane and I in our early years. He built my foundations for me. One of the most helpful things he ever told me was “always go with your initial instinct when judging something, don’t be tempted to talk yourself round it, your gut will invariably be right”.

Frank Berendt was the founder of Alexander and Berendt. This was a firm of international repute with a gallery in Davies Street opposite Mallets at Bourdon House. They were the world’s leading specialists in the finest French Court Furniture of the C17th and C18th, they dealt with leading collectors and institutions and virtually the whole collection of this material at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles was sourced and supplied by A&B.

Before joining Sotheby’s as a trainee, I knocked on the door of Berendt’s armed with a vague family introduction, spoke with Mr Berendt and was taken on to dust the furniture and fill the humidifiers, along with any other menial tasks that arose. As time passed, occasionally the great man would invite me to sit at his bureau plat with him for a “tutorial”. I was enraptured. Again his breadth of knowledge and confident connoisseurship was awe inspiring and we developed a close bond at these tea time sessions. He was and continued to be supportive and encouraging to me, indeed it was he who shoe-horned me into Sotheby’s because, “you know nothing and there you will see and handle a lot of things and broaden your vision”. Then you can come back here when you can be some help to me”.


One day I asked him what “rules” were helpful when buying, how did he know where to invest his capital and hope to see a worthwhile return. He smiled a little indulgently and said that there were no “rules”, there was just a feeling that informed his decisions combined with the certainty that he knew what he was looking at. But he said “it may be helpful to consider the following, in this order, just to make sure that you tick all the boxes before following your heart”. His list read as follows;

“Rarity, Quality, Condition, Provenance and Price” in that order.

There was no internet, no Twitter, Pinterest, mobile phones, fax machines. There was no telephone bidding or Antiques Trade Gazette, only a very few illustrated catalogues, it was honestly a different world. But I would have loved to have been involved in an initiative like the Antiques Young Guns. This is an initiative that grew on social media, a world where young people, enthused by old things share stories, information and ideas. It has a positive energy and represents at least something of the future of the Art and Antiques Trade in Britain and wider.

This world is a long way from Jim Kiddell, Derek Shrub and Frank Berendt, but some within the Antiques Young Guns community I believe may be driven by the same passion and enthusiasm that guided them to the very top of their profession and I am delighted to support it and hope to be able to pass on some of the encouragement they gave me.

I am not yet sure what responsibilities or qualities are required of an Antiques Trade Heavy Artillery mentor or what contribution I will be able to make, but I applaud their energy and ambition and am happy they invited me to become a part of it.

 

20 March 2014

Busy times in our local "Battersea Design District" this week.

It certainly feels as though interest and demand in our field are as strong or stronger than at any time in our working lives. Great Folk Art and Vernacular pieces are of course increasingly hard to source and when they come on to the market are competitively contested.

In these circumstances, we have been feeling excited as we put together the Catalogue for our forthcoming Exhibition of Antique Folk Art. It is exciting putting the collection together for our show and this year is made extra special by the forthcoming Tate Britain Exhibition of British Folk Art. This week we have been scuttling about all over the place tying up loose ends, arranging logistics, photography and all the fiddly things involved. Next week we have the major catalogue meeting when all will be finally agreed and put to bed. Then we just wait while it is printed, until we install the exhibition over the first weekend of May ready for the opening on Thurs 8th May.

The Royal College of Art opposite us have been hosting their annual exhibition “RCA Secret” for the past couple of weeks, showing post card sized original works on various media. The anonymous works are shown in a large floor to ceiling grid, equally spaced and identifiable only by a number beside each one. After the exhibition the works are sold either to the few who queue or by ballot at £50 each. Currently there is a little settlement of tents outside the RCA for the hardy enthusiasts who are determined to get the first chance to back their judgement and buy a small work by a big name.

Street gossip has it that the old Buchan’s restaurant site, just down the pavement from us, has finally been sold and new tenants are due in soon. Luckily since the closure of Buchan’s, talented French restaurateur Franck Raymond has opened up the delightful new Augustine Kitchen just over the road, serving well balanced, authentic French food without any pomp or ceremony. We lunch there sometimes and have always had delicious tuck. The other day Josyane, Ilse, Jen and I popped over and had a scrummy meal, the girls all had a green salad and his home made ravioli with lobster sauce, (see image on left), and I enjoyed a succulent piece of veal with a richly flavoured reduction sauce, served with sautéed spuds and tasty little grilled lardons. All from the Daily Menu for under a tenner each.

News of high attendance and significant sales is filtering back from the TEFAF Fair in Maastricht, as the BADA fair opened its doors yesterday. We benefit here, from visitors who have been or are going to the BADA show, many of whom have been impressed by the number of visitors and report evidence of demand and good sales. Michael Cohen, the newly elected Chairman of BADA is moving things forward with this venerable Association and helping to adapt it to today’s market. The BADA Fair this year is a little sharper and more focused and it looks as though things are moving in the right direction. BADA members have each been individually elected for their recognised expertise and integrity, which has helped to make it the most respected professional National Association in the industry, so it is exciting to see that these qualities are now being harnessed with a vision for the future and an innovative approach to marketing.

So in the meantime our attention will turn to our preparations for Masterpiece London, now comfortably less than 100 days away ..... ouch! I sense just a little urgency ....

 

 

 

12 March 2014

British Folk Art ..... now it’s suddenly “Sexy”

Sometimes we stumble upon extraordinary examples of otherwise ordinary pieces. These are not “important”, just works that have something special about them, some kind of inanimate genius quality. We all recognise it when we see it, although we never knew it existed before that moment and such pieces take on an iconic quality in our visual reference library.

Recently we found two such things, neither is hugely valuable, but they both raise the bar for their type and help remind us why we do what we do.

The 2014 Art/Antique “Season” is well under way now, with TEFAF opening in Maastricht this week and the BADA Fair, opening up the road from us here in London, next week. Our shop has also been unusually busy with visitors from both the UK and abroad, there is something in the air!

Last week Sotheby’s held a unique and colourful auction interestingly titled “1000 Ways of Seeing”, the last in a series of sales offering works from the private collections of Stanley Seeger and his long time partner Christopher Cone. It was a multidisciplinary collection spanning continents, centuries and cultures. However, at the viewing it was immediately apparent that these pieces had been selected by a discerning and confident eye. Over the years they had found a few things with us and we had witnessed their genuine enthusiasm and appetite for collecting works that excited their eye, at first hand.

This led them to buy some great and extraordinary Masterpieces and today’s market enthusiastically endorsed their selections, though they were well ahead of their time and somewhat “off piste” when they originally bought some of them. There were several pieces that fell into the general category of Folk Art which were all strongly competed for and established some remarkable prices. There was for example the iconic work “The Naming of the Animals” by the well documented British Naive artist John Miles of Northleach, which made just on £100,000. Also a curious hybrid Dug Out Armchair with the classic hollowed tree trunk back with a joined frame creating the seat, front legs and spectacular broad arms. The tree trunk back was split and the boarded seat a little time worn and ropey, but it benefitted from being a unique model, with exceptional colour, surface and character. English and dating from the late C17th this unique example made just shy of £50,000. There was also a small group of trade signs, generally rather youthful examples, but with scale, colour or drama, all of which made multiples of their estimates. Most, in their individual ways, had something special about them.

None of these pieces were originally bought “for investment”, but the owners had been guided by their instinct, their passion and motivated by the joy of finding and living with them.

There are odd little landmark moments in our professional careers where an Exhibition or a Private Collection at auction changes perception and somehow alters the landscape. I believe that we as Folk Art specialists are witnessing such a moment in 2014. At a time when we are told that antiques are unfashionable and the market sluggish, extraordinary demand and appetite for the best and most magical pieces of Folk Art has led to a dramatic growth in interest and perceived value.

This year alone I have had four interviews with art/antiques related publications and periodicals and been asked to write an article on British Folk Art for the longest established and most respected antiques periodical in the USA. We have two regular new, (and encouragingly young), visitors to the shop who are excitingly enthusiastic about the material and starting to build collections. Another contemporary art collector who wants some accent pieces of British Folk Art “of museum quality” to compliment his art. It is also curious to note that several general antique dealers are now promoting Folk Art among their interests and specialities.

How does all this happen at once? Why has perception changed and what has made the rhythm we have been banging on this drum for nearly forty years suddenly become “sexy” ? Who knows?

What we do know is that we are still focused and ridiculously excited when we find extraordinary examples, particularly when they are up there amongst the best we have handled. However humble they may be as objects, if they have that indefinable, yet instantly recognisable “genius” quality, they can take their place at our high table and be celebrated.

 

 

18 February 2014

2014 has started off excitingly. The New York Winter Antiques Show was very well attended again and our British Folk Art and Vernacular pieces were well received. RYA was featured in Roberta Smith’s Preview of the show for the New York Times  and Robert was also one of the specialist dealers selected for a video profile of the show.

This year the NYWAS celebrated its Diamond Jubilee on its 60th Anniversary and for the first time they introduced a Phoenix Award for Booth Design and we were delighted to win the Award for Best 3D Object Presentation, an honour at such a venerable and prestigious event.

In the year that Tate Britain is hosting the first National Exhibition of British Folk Art, (curated by Martin Myrone, his assistant Ruth Kenny and with the contribution and eye of contemporary artist Jeff McMmillan), Sotheby’s in New York held a record breaking auction of American Folk Art with the single owner Esmerian Collection selling for a total just shy of 13 Million US Dollars. This has inevitably brought Folk Art to the attention of a much wider public.

Excitement is already building around the forthcoming Exhibition at Tate Britain and it seems that in the wake of the 2013 Venice Biennale where “Outsider Art” had a high profile and was exhibited and discussed in a contemporary context, Folk Art is finally being embraced by the mainstream and being understood for its artistic qualities rather than any sociological interest. These are exciting and busy times for us.

Apart from the Tate Exhibition, we are now working towards our Annual Exhibition of Folk Art here in our Gallery, at the heart of the recently named “Battersea Design District”. Our show opens on Thursday 9th May at 12 noon and runs through until Saturday 17th May. We no longer host an evening preview, since many of you said it was difficult to plan to be here at 6.30p, and the works are for sale on receipt of the catalogue. However, we do try to keep all the pieces on display for the run of the show, even after they are sold, so all visitors have the opportunity to see the works in the flesh. If you would like to be added to our Mailing List, please do contact us.

Then towards the end of June we will again be showing at Masterpiece London 2014, (26th June - 2nd July 2014), this is a spectacular event which exhibits some of the most exciting and interesting works of art available on the market, in an amazing contemporary structure in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the home of the Chelsea Pensioners. We highly recommend a visit if you have not been before and if you have been we are confident you will wish to return, (If you would like a ticket to Masterpiece, please do not hesitate to ask .

Last week RYA was selected by Judith Miller as the selected Antique Shop for her “Miller's Choice”, Judith Miller's pick of the world's best antique shops in the Telegraph Luxury online publication. Olivia Parker wrote an informed and insightful piece about RYA and our history which we hope some of you might like to read.

2014 already looks full and is inspiringly busy.

 

 

 

 

19 December 2013

The Christmas period is a busy time of year. We have Interior Design Project commitments to meet, as well as compiling our Spring Catalogue and preparing for the New York Winter Antiques Show. On top of that, this year we have had the introduction of our new “Signature Candle” and the amazing demand that it has met with. We created it in a limited edition, but it seems as though we may need to review that decision and think about creating a second edition! Everything is running full on.

It has been another exciting year for us here as we have continued to be so ably supported and driven by our talented, dedicated and inspiring colleagues Ilse, Jen, Odette and Kanak, without whom the running and management of RYA and Riviere Interiors would simply not be possible. On top of their already demanding and multifarious roles, Ilse and Jen have arranged and managed the installation of a new IT system (we are officially in the clouds), a new Database and led us into the curious but exciting worlds of both Twitter and Pinterest, whilst concurrently updating, editing and monitoring an increasingly active Website and creating three Catalogues. Life has changed so fast.

Between them Ilse, Jen, Odette and Kanak have worked with us for over 30 years, wow! So much has changed in their time and yet somehow we have retained our individuality as designers and our style as a specialist dealership, whilst developing and adjusting to this constantly changing world. Almost everything is touched by the power of fashion and our perceptions, tastes and ideologies are somehow inevitably influenced by it. We are in awe of the creative energy and vision of those who work at the cutting edge of fashion and manage to create two or more entirely new collections every year, as well as those who develop technology and keep endlessly innovating and pushing the boundaries.

We of course are inspired by the old, yet keep finding it relevant and powerful in the present. It continues to be exciting and rewarding to find wonderful survivals, great old things hewn, painted, woven and fashioned by our forbears and still here to tell their story. The most exciting feeling for us is that these things are increasingly admired and collected by a younger generation. Whilst the works we source have not changed or been developed since they were made, the perception and understanding of them has been influenced by the vagaries of fashion. No longer considered tired or obsolete, they are increasingly understood for their unique individuality and honest quality. They have been given a new resonance by changes in perception and presentation. Indeed the nature and style of art we handle has not changed radically over the years, but the way we present it, juxtapose and contextualise it is always changing and moving on. The interest in antiques is also subject to the power of fashion and as specialists we need to be as alert to this as any other industry.

It becomes clearer as time passes that the actual age or period of something is not that relevant. Throughout history architects, artists, and designers in all media have taken inspiration from the past and marched bravely forward with their own individual and personal visions. What we have really come to understand is that people have always and will hopefully continue to create great things, wonderful unique and personal works that amaze, move and inspire us. Our mission has and will continue to be to source such things and to create a context for them to be understood and appreciated in.

Suddenly, having been on the “outside” for so long, genuine works of Naive, Primitive and Folk Art are taking their place in the overall art historical narrative and no lesser institution than Tate Britain will be hosting the first National Exhibition of British Folk Art in the Summer of 2014. After nearly forty years of believing that such works represent the roots of our cultural heritage and form a powerful and exceptional archive of native British artistic expression, it is wonderful to be able to celebrate this unprecedented initiative and the awakening of the art establishment to the values and relevance of this indefinable “school” of the unschooled.

We would like to extend seasonal greetings to all who help us find, transport, conserve, photograph, research, curate and display our discoveries. But most importantly to thank you our clients, who again with your loyal custom and genuine enthusiasm continue to make it all possible and in this way help to preserve and honour these works.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas,

Robert, Josyane, Ilse, Jen, Odette and Kanak





 

 

04 December 2013

ROBERT YOUNG "SIGNATURE" CANDLE.

EVOCATIVE, NOSTALGIC, DISTINCTIVE.

When Josyane and I began dealing and founded RYA in the mid 1970’s, the landscape of the established art and antiques market in London and the UK was completely different from how we know and experience it today.

Then it was somehow exclusive, perhaps a little elitist, dusty, clubby and aloof. However there was a consistent interest and steady demand for antiques and works of art and a kind of working hierarchy had developed within the trade.

In certain circles of society classic mainstream art and antiques were seen as symbols of refined good taste and connoisseurship. There were Antiques Shops in every town and in many villages, to some degree one could say that Antiques were then “fashionable”.

We found it curious that the majority of these independently owned and run business were barely discernible from one another, as the “fashionable taste” of the time spawned a host of showrooms displaying traditional, largely well polished and fully restored English Furniture together with C18th and C19th oil paintings and watercolours in carved gilt frames, with shelves and surfaces scattered with a profusion of decorative “collectors” ceramics, the spines of leather bound books, well polished silver and shiny copper accessories.

We rushed and stumbled enthusiastically into this world with ideas and visions of our own. Josyane, came from a colourful southern French background, had seen and explored the new wave of “lifestyle” art and antiques galleries that emerged in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s on The 'Rive Gauche' in Paris. She was inspired by their stylish almost irreverent inventiveness and was determined that we could also follow our own ideals and create interesting sympathetic spaces to exhibit our selected examples of genuine early vernacular, primitive and naïve pieces, with integrity and “dans leurs jus”, originally in our shop and subsequently at Antiques Fairs.

It may sound ridiculous almost 40 years on, but at that time such a concept was both innovative and intimidating to the art and antiques establishment, as was the principle of exhibiting and championing works in well used, genuinely age worn and naturally weathered “as found” condition.

We travelled regularly and widely in search of fresh undiscovered examples and befriended like minded, slightly bohemian folk at flea markets, buzzy French “deballages” and wherever the scent of something exciting led us, both here and in Europe. In this way we gradually developed the confidence to back our judgment and follow our eye into the field we now happily inhabit in a professional sense. Almost imperceptibly gathering a quietly loyal clientele who encouraged our direction and development.

The journey was never straightforward but always exciting. After struggling with grudging peer group disapproval early on, usually for our “unfairworthy” pieces which “could have been improved with some tidying up and proper polishing”, we gradually established a niche somewhere on the outskirts of the establishment as they slowly accepted us for “at least offering something different, however unlikely” and “maybe appealing to a younger market”. It was not comfortable, but we were young, harboured a vision and were fuelled with passion.

Our shop and stock were small and tightly edited, but one thing travelled with us wherever we exhibited and has since accompanied us and our exhibits everywhere from Battersea to San Francisco, New York and ultimately back to Masterpiece London, via any number of London based and regional fairs and exhibitions……. The Smell..... our unique "Signature" fragrance. We believe it has always been part of the experience of visiting us.

In the early days, being unable to pay our electricity bill punctually one month, the supply was cut off. Our neighbour hooked an extension lead up through our kitchen window to keep the fridge going and we ran the shop, flat and our lives by candlelight for over a week. We enjoyed a good week’s business and paid the bill, but have never stopped lighting candles in the shop since then.

Then, as now, the shop is heated with an open fire from October until April and after lighting it, we begin every day with a touch of our own recipe scented oil. We believe that smell is as important to the quality of our lives as any of the senses. It can be evocative, exciting and memorable. So both candlelight and our "Signature" fragrance have been synonymous with us for nearly half a century.

Many of our visitors and friends have responded enthusiastically to the scent over the years and clients have frequently said how much they love it when we deliver pieces to them which still “smell like the shop”. So we eventually set out to develop and create a traditional wax candle combined with our "Signature" fragrance.

The process started nearly two years ago, as we searched for skilled and sensitive artisan candle-makers, based in England, who would devote the necessary care and attention to creating the perfect, high quality product for us. After several unsatisfactory experiments we finally found them, in delightful converted agricultural buildings in a rural setting, which is where the work and olfactory alchemy really began.

The brief was simple, we wanted to make a top quality candle, one that would burn slowly and give off the scent of our family recipe of essential oils. The complexities and specialist skills required to create such a unique and specific fragrance, in a traditional wax candle, amazed us but we have loved the discovery, the journey and the result.

Each stage of the production was analysed, tested and approved, to ensure that the blend of fragrance and wax was perfect, the correct thickness of wick was selected to burn at the right temperature, before each candle was individually poured, had its wick hand trimmed, the glass hand polished and labelled. Finally each one was inspected by a specialist for quality, consistency, cold fragrance and finish, before being individually packed in our specially designed, presentation box. The box is covered in a print of one of our bespoke hand painted and textured artists canvases, with the bottom half in our house style matt grey.

So the Robert Young Studio “Signature” candle is born, the scent of our history and our future in a box. We set out to produce the highest quality candle possible, a candle that burns to give off a pure clean fragrance, that is pleasurable to own, look at, light and enjoy in a log cabin, cottage castle or even a tent. We hope and believe we have achieved it.

The "Signature" candle is now available from our Gallery priced at £37 or by mail order £42 (including Postage & Packing worldwide).

To order your "Signature" candle through paypal, please click here. The candle will be mailed to you in 3-5 working days.












 












 












 












 

07 November 2013

Old Friends Meeting for the First Time.

Simply the idea of Twitter was incomprehensible to us, but the advantage of working with younger people is that they are happy to nudge and push us in intimidating directions.

Hence we have an established Website and people visit it regularly. This was their initiative, as were the introductions of an ansaphone, a fax machine, mobile telephones and then our first computer!

Now many more people visit our site than come to see us here at the gallery. An amazing amount of you read this Journal and our “The Way We See It” introductions, whilst also exploring the  Available Stock, Sold/Archive Pieces, Portfolio of Interiors Projects and the pages of our archived Press Coverage. On average you look around our site for about 4 minutes per visit, some for over an hour or more,  a lot for between 6-10 minutes and others for only a few seconds. Some of you are regular visitors, which is particularly rewarding and we are glad that you enjoy the site.

Even in our busiest times, we have never received over two hundred people on one day in the shop, nor averaged over 50 daily visitors as we do on our Website. So we embrace this technology and enjoy keeping in touch and showing pieces for so many of you to enjoy. We know that nearly half our visitors are from the UK, with the others spread over the world, but the majority are from the USA, Switzerland, Scandinavia, France and Japan. Of course the site is up and running 24/7 so we are never closed.

Likewise we are now enjoying a regular contact with a growing number of you on Twitter. It surprises me how enjoyable this media is. Little bite size views into the interests and events of peoples daily lives, their views, recommendations and sometimes spontaneous musings. Some of our “Followers” on Twitter have gone on to explore our website and we are hopeful that this will continue.

The most satisfactory surprise of all this is that gradually our virtual world is becoming real. We had visitors from the USA last week, regular visitors to our site who had never come to see, feel and smell the gallery and the works we show. We knew each other only from emails and images, going back several years. We have enjoyed doing business with them and helping to source exciting pieces for their growing collection, but we had never just chatted, laughed or eaten together. We lunched together at “Augustine”, the lovely new French restaurant which recently opened opposite us and shared a relaxed convivial time with them.  We had a similar moment a week or two ago with friends/clients who we met at our first New York Winter Antiques Show in 2001 and have been in touch with ever since, yet this was their first visit to us in Battersea.

We really enjoy these occasions, when people take time out of their busy schedules to come and look at, touch and talk about the works we have . It is the reward we get for sourcing the things we believe have something special about them. Identifying and chatting about the qualities of form, design, surface integrity or rarity and sharing them with enthusiastic visitors. This is how we have always felt it should be.

Curiously, although we probably now enjoy fewer visitors here, we have an expanding international clientele and enjoy more valuable and rewarding times together with those who do visit.  So we will continue “Posting”, “E Newslettering”, “E Cataloguing”, “Tweeting” and writing this Journal,  in the hope that we will continue to keep in contact with you virtually and develop new friendships with people who we will eventually meet. It is like greeting old friends, when you meet for the first time!

 

 

09 October 2013

Everything happens so fast after the summer and although Battersea Park is still green and leafy, with the little boats still out on the lake, the Autumn season is now really upon us.

London has already hosted the September LAPADA and Decorative Antiques and Textile Fairs and PAD London and Frieze/Frieze Masters will be opening their posh tent doors shortly.

The Art and Antiques market is busy and alive. Along with many other specialists we are receiving more visitors to the shop and to our website. The struggle continues to be the difficulty in sourcing exciting new material.

However over the long summer we were lucky to find some great new pieces, many of which are included in our forthcoming Winter Catalogue #37, which has has gone to press and will soon be posted out. We will also be posting a digital version online as we found that many of you enjoy that facility.

Interior design work is equally busy as we aim to complete two current projects before Christmas and are working on new designs for 2014, then we have The New York Winter Antiques Show in January. Generally things are hectic, positive and full on.

Our immediate neighbourhood here, in what is now known as the “Battersea Arts District”, is buzzing and booming. Of course we now have the Royal College of Art opposite us in the splendid new Dyson Building, with the energy and colour that both the students and staff create, but we also welcome “Queen” boutique to our parade and Augustine Restaurant opposite. Sadly the old Buchan’s restaurant site remains empty for the time being, but we understand that it has now been sold and we are expecting new neighbours here shortly. Thriving nearby are the Vivienne Westwood Studio, Foster and Partners Architects, DesignSpace London, Street Kitchen, Doodle Bar, The London Distillery Company, with Victoria Beckham’s new studio opening shortly in Parkgate Road and a new Gordon Ramsey venture in Battersea Square. These are exciting times.

As our photography sessions increase in frequency, we are gradually uploading more images onto the various sections of our site, which seems in turn to have driven more traffic to it. We are always happy to receive feedback and to know if visitors are navigating the site easily, enjoying it and if there are other elements you would like to find on it. So please let us know, the site is for you, our visitors and clients and it is important to us that you find what you are hoping for when you visit us.

We also now have a presence on Twitter which we are finding curiously enjoyable, so please do follow us if you would like to read some of our incidental observations, recommendations and irrelevant nonsense. It is a forum in which we can let our hair down a little and keep in touch with the ideas, responses and observations of like minded, bloody minded, humorous or controversial Tweeters.

“Hour Glass Figures” illustrated on the left are images and details of two recent acquisitions, from the top down;

A rare and extraordinarily fine quality display mannequin made by The French Bust Company and bearing their original embossed gilt brass label, with provenance to The Hermitage in Hexham. This is one of the finest examples we have seen, in wonderful condition and with an appealingly sculptural full bodied form and retaining its original wire work skirt.

Embossed Makers Label for The French Bust Company
Figure Modellers to 20 Royal Families
The French Bust Company
Patents
14 Goodge St
London

Early C18th English Ale Coaster with original brass banding to the “hour glass” or “guitar” form single plank body. This lovely example retains all four original castors, has a generous well with delightful geometric flutes for channelling spillages and is in untouched original condition. These coasters were used for large communal leather jugs or bombards. Full of ale they would have been placed at the smaller end directly over the spillage well and on the larger side there would have been a quantity of leather, horn or pewter beakers. Individuals would have served themselves from the large jug and rolled the coaster on down the table for others to do likewise. They were used in Taverns and other hostelries and also “downstairs” in large households where senior members of staff were permitted to drink on feast days and special occasions. Few were made and they are rare collector’s items, particularly for those interested in early treen and drinking vessels.
















 

















 

28 August 2013

So we have been spoilt again.

As the summer holiday season draws gradually to an end and most of us are back to work, my mind wanders through thoughts provoked by the change of pace, scenery and environment when we were away.

Masterpiece London 2013 was the best yet. It was well attended every day, yet never felt crowded. The wide aisles and spacious catering facilities helped make it feel relaxed yet classy, but the real change was the enthusiasm of visitors and their appetite to variously look at, enjoy, study and buy the works on show. We met new and existing clients from all over the world and sold to visitors from Korea, France, Switzerland, both coasts of the USA, Australia, Norway and the UK.

The London summer art/antiques exhibition/show season is now cluttered with events, each searching for a following, an individuality and identity. We visited most and still feel confident that Masterpiece is the best for us. It is now established, confident, stylish, and most importantly is now also “buzzy”, “cool” and commercially successful.

The morning after Masterpiece closed we boarded a flight to Denver, Colorado, the first stop on our way to the Rockies in southern Wyoming. The first night we spent in the venerable Brown Palace Hotel where we ate in the “Churchill Bar”, (curiously a place where guests eat, drink and smoke in the same room, because they always have! Love it and we don’t even smoke). After skittering around Denver filling up the hire car with “ Fat Tyre” beers, whiskey, vodka, tonic water, endless fishing flies, leaders and other lovely but unnecessary accessories, we headed up the I 25 towards Fort Collins and then took the Cache Poudre Canyon Road up through the mountains towards Walden and Saratoga Wyoming.

Now already a long way from Masterpiece London and so excited that we didn’t suffer any jet lag.

The landscape, scarred by huge forest fires last year is already healing. Of course there are a few scorched and charred trees left standing and many fallen, but the greenery is returning and without so much forest the plants are getting more sunlight and rain which help promote regeneration. The Poudre River, was quite low, but tumbling and bubbling its way down the canyon, looking bright sparkling and full of life. This narrow winding uphill road is annually our ritualistic pathway to another world, a world without a mobile signal or bleeping I pad or emails, no newspapers or television. An increasingly unfamiliar place.

Once settled in our modestly appointed, simple and cosy timber cabin at the Ranch, we settle into a new life pattern. Dominated by huge skies and invariably hot sunny days, followed by cool nights and bright starlit skies, occasionally punctuated by magnificent short thunder and lightning storms with gusting winds, brooding dark clouds and heavy rain. We lose ourselves in rivers and on mountains, we live for a couple of weeks in splendid isolation from all that normally consumes our lives and concern ourselves only with weather and water temperature, wild fish and well trained horses. The evenings start with a shower and a beer, to wash away the dust from both inside and out and are generally filled with laughter, tuck, music and wine. Sometimes rounded off beside a log fire sharing a whiskey or two with family and Ranch friends. These are luxury times and yet seem so real. Then inevitably we have to come back down through the mountains to the busy world, gradually the mobiles and lap tops come back to life and old habits and our real lives come back into focus.

Of course we are spoilt to be able to enjoy these trips and we are hugely conscious of the privilege. Ultimately it is these days and weeks that we work for and they are so precious simply because they allow us to be together, to leave our working lives behind and to clear out everyday concerns by concentrating on the immediate excitements and dangers of the outdoors, the wonderful and imperious power and beauty nature and sharing precious convivial time as a family and with friends.

They also help us to breathe and see things from a slightly new perspective, maybe just a new angle. Somehow they always refresh our enthusiasm, make us brave and possibly even innovative again and ready for another year’s work. It also makes us conscious of how lucky we are to work in our chosen profession, to work for ourselves, to work with pieces we respect and that excite us, to learn that others now share in our passion and that the pieces and works we have championed for years have become widely recognised and admired and ultimately to have enjoyed such loyal, enthusiastic and discerning clients, who have invested their confidence in us for so long.

We have already started work on our next Catalogue #37, along with other projects and initiatives and head into the autumn refreshed, full of energy and hoping as always that we will discover some wonderful pieces and create exciting functional and inspiring spaces.

We will keep you posted!






 






 






 






 

15 May 2013

Robert and Josyane Young are listed in The Sunday Times 12th May 2013, Britain’s Top 30 Interior Designers.

In her article entitled “Now it’s Personal”, in the Sunday Times “Home” supplement, specialist interiors journalist Katrina Burroughs listed us among the Top Ten of Britain’s Top 30 Interior Designers. At a time when as she says the interior design trade has gained a reputation for a “type of inter-continental, manicured monochrome”, she remarks that “the design of easy-going family spaces, full of colour and individuality, is flourishing again. So in honour of this revival, Home has identified the top 30 designers who are doing inspiring work in real homes”.

We are named in the Top Ten and the article comments particularly about our work “Fantastic paint finishes and tactile surfaces strewn with curiosities, from Swedish clocks to folk art”.

It is an honour to be nominated in such a prestigious and selected listing and we are delighted that our work has been recognised in this way. 

13 May 2013

“Highly Commended”. On the evening of 25th April at a well catered and polished Awards Ceremony, held in the bespoke marquee at the Decorative Antiques Fair in Battersea Park, Robert Young Antiques were nominated in the Homes and Antiques sponsored “Best Antique Shop of Britain” Category, in third place and have received our Highly Commended Certificate to hang in the Gallery. We understand that many of you, from both home and abroad, voted for us, which helped enormously for us to achieve this recognition and award.

It is rewarding to know that so many of you thought we merited your vote and took the time and trouble to register your support, we genuinely appreciate your confidence. For us it is also particularly rewarding that our relatively niche or fringe area of the art and antiques market has been recognised so publicly as being significant, just as Tate Britain has announced that they are to host the first National Exhibition of British Folk Art, under the curatorship of Martin Myrone with assistance from Ruth Kenny and the contemporary artist Jeff MacMillan.

These are exciting times for us and for antique Folk Art in general. After nearly 40 years specialising in these unique and previously often overlooked and neglected works it is wonderfully rewarding to feel that they are beginning to take their rightful place in the overall art historical narrative and given the attention and prominence we believe they deserve.

05 April 2013

We have recently learnt that Robert Young Antiques are on the final shortlist for the British Antique Shop of the Year Award 2013, sponsored by Homes and Antiques Magazine.

There are four categories of awards supported and nominated by Homes and Antiques; “Antique Shop of the Year”, “Vintage Shop of the Year”, “Antique Centre of the Year” and “People’s Choice”, (an award voted for entirely by the general public, for any company that has not been nominated in any of the previous categories). These are the only National Awards in our industry.

The initial shortlist is selected and nominated by leading figures in the Art and Antiques industry from BADA, LAPADA and the Antiques Trade Gazette and subsequently the general public, ( including industry professionals, collectors, designers and other interested parties), who are invited to vote for their preferred Dealership.

These votes have now been collated and counted and the final shortlists announced. We feel honoured to be among them.

The Awards Ceremony takes place on Thursday 25th April at the Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair in Battersea Park, appropriately during National Antiques Week.

There are many enthusiastic, scholarly, sensitive, knowledgeable, creative and inspired individuals working in the antique decorative and fine art sector, many of whom we like and respect enormously. It is obviously difficult and inevitably subjective to judge who may be among the “best”, but we applaud this initiative which draws closer attention to the Antiques and Art Trade.
Antiques, Vintage and Decorative Arts dealerships are generally small specialist firms, run by passionate individuals or partnerships. We believe they are a valuable asset to the wider Art Market and also serve to identify, protect and promote works from our cultural heritage, as well as to inspire future generations of designers, artists and collectors.

It is hugely rewarding to be considered to be among the ten best Antiques Shops in Britain, however subjective this may be and we would like to thank any and all of you who considered us worthy of your vote and voted!

04 April 2013

May 2013 issue of House and Garden features an article by Marcus Field, illustrated with atmospheric light filled images by Elizabeth Zeschin, (pages 98 - 103), of our first “new build” design commission. A romantic lakeside location, just half an hour outside Amsterdam, was the setting for local Architect Rene de Vries to create this wonderful contemporary “escape”.

It was a huge pleasure working for our enthusiastic and trusting clients and to be so ably, professionally and sensitively supported by both Dutch and English, craftsmen, artisans, artists and specialist tradesmen.


Our friend and "on location project manager" Rene Daanen, of Arends Menssen, the master of detail, function and dimensions, was dedicated and invaluable throughout the project


The magical and visionary cabinet maker, woodworker and architectural interior alchemist Ari Bocxe and his capable and conscientious team from Creavorm, turned design dreams and ideas into reality with quiet confidence and a smile.


Finally of course our friends and ridiculously energetic and talented team of specialist painters from DKT Artworks, were there to work on acres of rough boarded wooden walls and ceilings and bring the reflected light, natural textures and materials together and harmonise into something that felt like it could never have been any other way.

It was altogether an inspiring and rewarding experience. A journey made paying great attention to space, light, materials, function and detail, in the belief that we would ultimately create something unique, worthwhile and yet perfectly functional, to honour the brief and fulfil the dreams of the family.

We believe it worked.

We want to thank everyone involved and especially House and Garden, for now making it possible for many others to be able to see and enjoy. 

 

Read the Article Here

 

 

28 February 2013

Today is the last day of voting for 'Britain's Best Antique Shop Award', for which we are honoured to have been shortlisted.

If you feel we merit it , you have a final opportunity to cast your vote below. (The voting is now closed. The Winner is announced on 25th April 2013.)

We would also like to thank all of you who have already voted and for registering your support.

We genuinely appreciate your kindness and the confidence you have shown in us.

21 February 2013

We are tweeting! Well nearly.
While we were away in New York City in January and early February, Ilse and Jen opened a Robert Young twitter account (@ryantiques) and I am shortly going to join them in the new ever chattering world.
They tell me that fresh fish at the market, pieces of theatre, bus rides, restaurants and possibly even occasional comments on football are all possible subjects, as well as just things we do, look at, smell, taste and see in the normal course of our lives.
Until now Josyane and I have been illegal immigrants in the virtual world, but we are gradually and tentatively gravitating towards embracing it more positively..........watch this space, (or at least the space where twitter lives).
We are all safely back from New York and missed the snowstorm. The Winter Antiques Show 2013 was very positive. The overall gate was twenty five percent up on 2012, there was a lot of energy, interest and activity. At Robert Young Antiques we made sales every single day of the show, eleven consecutive days including the preview, a first in twelve years.
Now we are back and looking ahead for 2013 in London.
"Timeless" our annual in house Exhibition will open at 11 am on Thursday 9th May and then we will be showing at the fourth incarnation of the celebrated Masterpiece London, 26th June - 3rd July, having shown there since the inaugural year.
In the meantime we are sourcing ,searching, working on an exciting new design project and learning to tweet.
 

31 January 2013

The New York Winter Antiques Show 2013. Are we becoming fashionable again?

The venerable New York Winter Antiques Show is in the seventh day of its fifty-ninth year and will celebrate its Diamond Jubilee in 2014. The celebrations seem to have started early as the attendance at this years show is currently showing an amazing 25% increase on 2012.

We managed to slip out of Heathrow on 19th Jan, just before the British snow closed it down and arrived in a bitterly cold, but snow free New York. Since then we have enjoyed generally warm weather, with occasional light flurries of snow, but surely this unseasonably hospitable climate is not responsible for the greatly increased visitor numbers, interest and business that are marking this years show?

We have been visited by Designers, Celebrities, Socialites, Fashionistas, Collectors and a generally interested and enthusiastic public at our stand. We have witnessed them being drawn to various individual pieces, their history, style and quality. People from all over the United States with an enthusiasm and appetite for pieces we are showing and those of many of our Co-Exhibitors.

We have also noticed that many Interiors, Style and even Fashion periodicals are featuring antique pieces and works of art in their editorial pages here, in relative profusion. Antique and vintage pieces are used in settings and back drops in fashion shoots, incorporated within contemporary interiors and featured in standalone interior articles.

Maybe taste is moving away from the minimal, plastic, mass produced, abstract and conceptual, it is too early to tell. But certainly there is a visible and tangible appreciation of older design, historic craftsmanship and the exciting textures and patination of age that are found on the finely edited and selected pieces on exhibition here. Maybe people are simply becoming more aware of "antiques" and appreciating their relevance and compatibility with contemporary decoration, lifestyle and collections.

It is exciting and rewarding to be here and we hope that taste and sensitivity will continue to look back and embrace the quality, style, narrative and aesthetic qualities of these pieces which have withstood the test of time and live to tell their story.

As we have long maintained, there is an exciting cocktail created by juxtaposing the old with the new and it looks as though others now share that view and antiques are suddenly becoming "cool" !

The 2013 New York Winter Antiques Show is open all week and closes on Sunday 3rd February at 6.00pm.

 

08 January 2013

2013 Spring Catalogue No. 35

It is always exciting to start the year with a new collection of recent acquisitions and to exhibit at the venerable New York Winter Antiques Show, America’s longest established and most prestigious antiques event. Our new Catalogue illustrates and describes 33 pieces, most of which we have selected for Exhibition in New York and have been put aside especially for the show.

All of the works included are for sale on receipt of the Catalogue and as usual are offered Guaranteed as Described, Customs Cleared and Available for Collection/Delivery in New York from Friday 25th January 2013 and Subject to Prior Sale. We are always happy to provide more detailed information than is given in the catalogue captions, either by phone or email and make every effort to respond speedily and in enquiry order.

Many of the pieces in Catalogue 35 have distinguished Provenances and are being exhibited for the first time in a generation or more, others are more recent discoveries, which will be shown for the first time.

We hope that you will enjoy browsing through and also that we will again see many of you, our friends and clients in New York. In the meantime, we would like to thank all of you for your loyal enthusiasm and custom, without which we would be unable to continue to seek out, discover, conserve, research, catalogue and present these pieces, which we believe to be variously extraordinary, beguiling and compelling and which will hopefully continue to tell their story and give pleasure for many generations to come.

View our Ecatalogue

Order a Catalogue or Join our Mailing List

Robert, Josyane, Ilse, Jen and Odette

Battersea, January 2013.

14 September 2012

One of the advantages of having been around for a long time in our chosen field, is that we have made many close friends who share our aesthetic sensibility and interests. Indeed we learnt much from several older and long established specialists, who became friends and were generous, enthusiastic and happy to share their knowledge with us as fledgling dealers. Tony Foster of A and E Foster was one of them. Tony originally worked as an Art Director at the BBC then in the early 1970’s retired from that life and dedicated the rest of his working life to his passion for wood. He and his wife Eleanor were an inspiration to us as young dealers. With an innate and professional understanding of form, surface, and colour, they were the first dealers to take antique pieces and show them in a totally contemporary context. With an eye for graphics and composition they created poetic displays of wonderful wooden objects, within plain white showcases alongside the the occasional piece of exceptional and sculptural vernacular furniture, at the venerable Chelsea Antiques Fair, the first decade or so of summer Olympia and later at Grosvenor House. They were the benchmark for subtle taste, display and integrity and almost single handedly blew the cobwebs out of a previously rather dusty traditional discipline. Tony retired several years ago and until now has remained in his delightful cottage in the beech wood forest outside High Wycombe. Recently however he has downsized and moved closer to his son Steven. The move necessitated the disposal of some of the collection that they built up over more than 40 years and we had the privilege to be offered the pieces that he could no longer house. This is the equivalent of being offered the wine that the fine wine merchant keeps for himself!
We are gradually photographing and sorting the pieces out, many are humble utilitarian objects in origin, but there is something unique and special about everything they had, either the scale or form and invariably colour and surface. We have added a few things to the site today and further pieces will be included in our forthcoming Winter Catalogue.
At around the same time, we were also approached by Sally Green, sadly now the widow of our great chum and mentor Derek Green of Cedar Antiques. Like the Foster’s, Derek was a pioneer in the antique country furniture world. Originally a pilot with Fleet Air Arm, he was an amazing polymath, interested in and hugely informed about Vintage Motor Vehicles, Wine, Gardens and Trees as well as his passion and knowledge for early vernacular and country furniture. Derek loved timber, particularly fruitwood, yew and anything in solid burr. He loved colour and patination and particularly of a “fruity” or “honey” nature and apart from sourcing the best available pieces that he could find here in the UK, was a pioneer in scouring the Continent for great examples of early European Furniture with the qualities he admired.  Like Tony, he kept some gems for himself, these dealers of the old school bought and dealt in pieces they recognised as special, that spoke to them and had something unique and magical about them. The pieces themselves were their prime concern, their qualities and rarity, not their monetary value or profit potential. Sally is also now looking to downsize and it is a real pleasure, not to say honour to be able to handle some their treasures and pass them on to a new generation of enthusiasts at a time when items of this quality rarely come onto the open market. We only have a few pieces from Derek and Sally’s Collection and they will be included in our future catalogues and gradually introduced to the this site.
Even during their working lives, pieces with Provenance to Tony and Eleanor Foster and Cedar Antiques were highly regarded, so it is now a rare treat to be able to offer pieces from their Private Collections, which have not been on the market for at least a generation, a Provenance hard to better.

New pieces have been added to the Furniture, Treen, Pottery and Folk Art Sections which can be found in our Collection section.

10 September 2012

SUMMER HOLIDAYS

Summer Holidays, the words alone sum up nostalgic memories of hot sunny days on wide sandy Cornish beaches with Kelly’s clotted ice cream running down the outside of the cornet, creating messy fingers, sticky and dusted with sand. Running wild in deserted sand dunes with legs getting scratched by brambles and curious spiky grasses; being barefoot for days on end somehow making me feel “native” and part of the surroundings; crazy games of beach football and cricket with holidaying strangers; huge sandcastles designed and built to defy the tide and decorated with shells, driftwood and stones; precious unique pebbles harvested from rock pools and put safely in sandy pockets “for the collection”. Then as I grew bigger and started messing about in clinker built boats with rust coloured sails, heavy wooden oars, nylon hand lines wound on wooden frames with dangling knobbly circular lead weights, short fishing rods with Toby spinners, little British Seagull outboard motors with oily fumes, bright yellow oilskins and life jackets and woven wicker lobster pots.

I can still feel the bitter wind on my face and sea splashed hands, sometimes so cold that I couldn’t move the fingers, can taste the crusty salt on my lips and feel the sting of sea spray in my eyes. I remember the intimidating force of the spring tides in the estuary; the hoarse cries of gulls fighting for scraps of freshly caught fish; the lifeboat siren summoning butcher, ferryman, boat builder, ironmonger, barman, house painter and others, to drop everything and rush to the slipway to heroically launch the gleaming lifeboat.

I still conjure up images of the serene calm at high tide on magical evenings with little vessels nodding to their moorings, while we skittered flat stones over the water towards them; can see the sun gleaming on crisp surf and feel the glorious satisfaction of riding a powerful “beacher” wave; can taste the warm peppery pasties eaten from their wrapping in old copies of the Cornish Guardian and can stare at the sand left in the bottom of my bath and still wonder at where it had all come from. 

Then there was the sleep, so deep and luxurious that it seemed to pass in a few moments, no room for dreams.  

There were high conifer trees visible through my bedroom window and on waking the tips of them served as a kind of primitive barometer. They hinted at the the force and direction of the wind and in conjunction with any clouds, colour of the sky and state of the tide, indicated what sort of a day lay ahead, which in turn dictated our “plans”. These were my primary concerns. I never thought about school, exams or the little pile of “holiday reading” or “homework” I had packed, if for no other reason than it was the Summer Holidays and there was too much to do, until they came, as they inevitably did, to an end.

Then wearing shoes again, we returned reluctantly towards real life with responsibilities looming ahead and things needing to be done!

Nothing much has changed.

Now we always spend some summer time in France and still occasionally go back to Cornwall, but more frequently in the spring, when the familiar villages, coves and waters are less peopled. Some of my heart still lives there with those boyhood memories and thanks to the Duchy and the National Trust the coastal landscape remains largely unchanged and my brother has a house in the area, which we are lucky enough to enjoy.

However, since our now 25 and 23 year old sons were aged 4 and 6 and we were introduced by family friends to the massive landscape and huge skies of southern Wyoming, it has become an annual summer destination and they in turn, have created their own “Western” childhood memories and we have all developed friendships, interests and attachments there, as well as those in Cornwall and France.

We returned as usual this year, immediately after Exhibiting at Masterpiece London and just a week after the huge forest fires had torn through Northern Colorado and into Wyoming. There were still some smouldering, bare and blackened hillsides scarring the landscape on our journey up through the foothills of the Rockies and our preferred route up through the Poudre Canyon was closed to all traffic, creating the need to drive through the famous old cowboy town of Laramie. (This is Native American Indian country).

We have only ever known the Rockies in July, and are accustomed to bright sun and hot days with big wide skies and cotton wool clouds, clear cold star lit nights, chill dewy early mornings, shimmering Aspens and tall cluttered conifer forests, wide open prairies and plains hosting roaming cattle, deer and all sorts of critters, watched over by the occasional gliding bald eagle and various circling birds of prey, massive agitated robins and diminutive humming birds and a network of lively, bright freestone rivers in the valleys. All this life and the survival of the hardy Ranchers, outfitters, cowboys and small close knit communities are dependent on the snowfall of the long winters.

In 2011 there was more snow than anyone could remember, in the Spring as snowmelt began, the rivers were so full that they broke their banks and wildlife was abundant. The prairies were rich and green with brightly coloured carpets of wild flowers, the cattle grew fat and the Ranchers harvested two full crops of hay.

The snowfall over this last winter was a record low, this meant that less people ventured to the mountains for winter sports, then the rivers never flowed generously enough to feed the Rancher’s irrigation channels and having had too much water for good fishing the previous year, now there was not enough and the fly fishermen travelled elsewhere. So the local inhabitants and their small businesses suffered a barren season. Then in the extraordinary hot spring and early summer the trees and grasses became parched and vulnerable and the electric storms came, (what the locals know as “dry storms”, thunder, lightning and wind, but no rain). This is how the fires are ignited, fed and not extinguished. 

The further and more frightening impact of the fires is that they take the forests and then there is nothing to hold the snowpack in subsequent years, so the run-off is uncontrollable, causing landslides and flash flooding and the water cannot be held or managed. The mountainsides remain treeless for years, until hardy new growth emerges and the cycle starts over again.

This beautiful wild, hostile landscape is sparsely populated and largely by intrepid settlers or descendants of settlers. People who have carved out new lives for themselves with their own hands and spirit, driven by a passion for the outdoors and the space and freedom it affords them. As they face these circumstances, everything they have built and strived for is threatened. No snow = no snowpack = no snowmelt = no water = low rivers = insufficient irrigation = no fat cattle = no crops = necessity to buy in feed. Then on top of this no winter sportsmen, no visiting fishermen, no horseback riders, no bird watchers or hikers and ultimately no income and an unsustainable life.

This year, the specific area that is close to our hearts just escaped the fires and our various friends who have built small family businesses lodging visitors, guiding them on the rivers and mountains, feeding them and entertaining them will survive to fight on, just! A really long hard winter will make their lives tough for seven months or so, but they long for it, as long as it brings snow, hopefully lots of snow.

As we have passed through over the years, I have envied the lives of these people. The camaraderie and sense of community, the respect they hold for the power of nature, their healthy appetites for fun, music and food, the knowledge and understanding they have of their surroundings and their brave raw determination to make things work.

Much like I had envied the lobsterpot men in Cornwall chugging off at dawn with a shaggy mongrel, (invariably with a touch of Collie), on the bow of their boats, enamelled mug of tea rattling on the shelf of the little upright wheelhouse, off to pull up their wages from the seabed. I envied their confidence and competence, their weather-beaten faces and powerful horny hands, (often missing a finger or two), and the fact that this was where and how they lived. I saw their glistening catch and heard their calls and ribald laughter. I saw them in the mornings and returning in the gloaming and somehow, as a small boy, I identified an enviable simplicity in their lifestyle and imagined that like the Wyoming folk we know in July, they were permanently on Summer Holiday. 

Nothing much has changed in this respect either.

I still dream a little and we hope one day to spend more time in these places, but for now we just enjoy the precious times we share there and still return a little reluctantly, still without having done all the holiday reading or “homework” we had planned, yet somehow refreshed, inspired and ready as a schoolboy with a bright new exercise book and renewed appetite.

We who work in the Art and Antiques industry are not so vulnerable to shifts in weather patterns, stormy seas, fires and other natural elements, but there are other forces at work, even above and beyond the reach of international economics and the banking crisis. We are subject to the vagaries of fashion, an invisible power that creeps up and washes over us. Over the last decade or so, perennially popular French Impressionists works; English Pre –Raphaelite paintings; fine polite but not important Georgian Formal Furniture; elegant fine quality Victorian Porcelain and Grand Tour Bronzes for example, have all slipped down the bestseller lists, whilst we have witnessed an astonishing growth of interest in and perceived value of Contemporary Art, Art Deco, Vintage Photography and C20th Designer pieces and many small dealerships that built their business and reputations on other more traditional works have been left behind and several forced to close. Now we hear whispers that some of these new markets may be wobbling a little and interest waning, and in spite of widespread economic strife, more traditional disciplines such as Old Master Paintings, Early Furniture, Medieval Sculpture, Tribal Art, British Modern Art of the mid C20th, fine vintage Taxidermy and even stylish industrial pieces are enjoying significant growth in popularity and appeal.

Here at Robert Young things move ahead gradually. Josyane and I still hold and share much the same vision and beliefs that we set out with 37 years ago. Over the course of the journey our knowledge, taste and interests have evolved, but we retain a passion for enticing original surfaces and textures, strong lines and inspiring form within the vernacular. We look for and cherish originality and integrity in our pieces, but are increasingly less concerned with their period and more interested in their rarity, quality and presence. Somehow we have survived the various movements in fashion and have met with growing interest and enthusiasm for the pieces we value, possibly because there is a certain timelessness about them. They were never “high style” or “designer” when originally created and in most cases retain an individuality and character that sits comfortably in both traditional and contemporary environments and alongside works from diverse cultures and periods. Somehow as the French would say, the objects we admire are “comfortable in their own skin”, which made me realise that the same can be said of the Cornish day boat fishermen, the Wyoming ranchers, wranglers, mountain men and fishing guides. May there be a common thread here somewhere?

Anyway, the Summer Holidays help to take us away from what we are so close to for the rest of the year. They help put things in perspective, without our doing any “homework”, but simply by spending time away in such different environments, challenged by other problems and sharing briefly in the diverse lives of others. So when we come back down from the mountains and return here, to our chosen way of life, we are reminded of what we set out to do and why and to more clearly identify what we would like to change to help keep our original vision, dreams and ambitions alive and to focus more clearly on the things we believe to be worthwhile.

21 May 2012

MASTERPIECE LONDON 2012, COMING SOON.....

Now that our Folk Art Exhibition is over and much of it has already been taken away, our minds are turning towards the spectacular Masterpiece London, 2012.

When we first set out in the Art and Antiques business in the mid 1970’s,  we talked and dreamt of showing great individual examples of vernacular and country furniture, engaging sculptural objects and naive art in a bright stylish contemporary context and alongside great works of both modern and ancient art.

The leading events at that time were generally traditional in content and presentation and antiques were kept in a somewhat exclusive world of their own and generally exhibited well away from anything “modern” or innovative.

Masterpiece sprung up from nowhere in 2010, the brainchild of a group of courageous and imaginative Ex-Grosvenor House Exhibitors and created a magnificent space and unique forum. In our opinion it is the most inviting and exciting venue of all the leading International Fine Art and Antique Shows. A magical temporary place, created on the South Grounds of the Chelsea Royal Hospital to showcase a mesmerising collection of contemporary, modern, vintage, antique and ancient art and artefacts, impeccably displayed by some of the world’s leading specialists. It is a sort of fantasy world, apart from the beguiling variety and quality of the exhibits, there is some very good tuck, well stocked and professionally tended bars, open space, a comfortable climate, wonderful historic location and a quiet feeling of luxury and elegance. It is a place that somehow naturally enhances ones appreciation of and sensitivity to art in its widest sense, somewhere we enjoy being and an experience we are proud to be part of.

We have been sourcing and putting together some choice works to show at Masterpiece 2012,  amongst which are a quite remarkable group of documentary hand painted Sporting Panels, which were commissioned from Copeland Spode by the prominent industrialist, philanthropist and politician Thomas Russell, for the billiard room of his newly built Glasgow home and signed by the artists Robert John Abraham (1850-1925) and Lucien Besche (d.1901). Following nearly six months of diligent professional research we are putting together a detailed file: cataloguing, describing, and contextualising these recently discovered significant ceramic masterpieces from the height of the Victorian era, especially for their unveiling at Masterpiece.

We have also managed to find some fine examples of rare and exceptional pieces of country furniture, and some engaging and unusual sculptural works of folk art, which we will be showing for the first time.

We have long enjoyed and championed the aesthetic values that naive and primitive works often share with ancient  and contemporary art, sometimes by juxtaposition and sometimes by compatibility, and for this reason Masterpiece is the event where we most enjoy sharing our pieces . 

There will be some complimentary tickets available for Masterpiece London, if you are interested in coming to visit us, please contact us, and we will endeavour to send you a ticket, subject to availability.


 

17 May 2012

FOLK ART EXHIBITION COMING TO AN END......

It has rained so much in London, it is hard to remember that we are now at the beginning of Summer. Thankfully the rain held off for the Preview of our 13th Annual Folk Art Exhibition, so as usual we were able to host a good crowd of guests on the pavement, as well as in the shop, with Don Grant running a busy and popular bar. The Preview was a lovely occasion where we met and shared chat with old and new friends and many of the Exhibits found new homes. As it becomes more difficult to source pieces for these Exhibitions, somehow the demand seems to grow!  It is also really exciting to see everything put together for the show, once Josyane has spent the best part of a week installing and styling it and wonderfully rewarding when it meets with such enthusiasm and interest.

As we have now changed our old policy of not selling prior to the opening and now offering pieces for sale immediately on receipt of the Catalogue, many pieces had already been sold prior to the Preview. However the attendance has been excellent and although a few pieces have already been collected, the Exhibition will remain open until 4.00pm this Saturday 19th, so we look forward to seeing anyone who has not been able to make it before now. However, shortly after the Exhibition closes my two sons and I will be excitedly  taking our seats in the Allianz Arena in Munich, hoping  that Chelsea FC will beat Bayern Munich to win the European Champions League for the first time in their history, just to round off a great week.
In the meantime, we would like to thank all of you who have called in or visited the show, for your support, interest and enthusiasm and hope that we will see you again soon and for those of you who found something at the Exhibition, we assure you that we are currently making  delivery arrangements and your new pieces will be with you soon.

04 April 2012

We are working towards our 13th Annual Antique Folk Art Exhibition here at our Gallery on 11-19th May 2012. The preview, by invitation only, is on Thursday 10th May at 6.30pm. Please contact us at the gallery if you would like to attend. There will be an Exhibition Catalogue published at the beginning of May, illustrating 55 of the pieces from the Exhibition. Please contact us at the Gallery if you would like a copy of the Catalogue. 

 

 

10 January 2012

2012 begins with several exciting changes here at RYA, firstly Imogen Begg moved on at the beginning of December, to join James Brett at the Museum of Everything, after three happy and productive years with us. Imogen leaves with our appreciation for her time and valuable contribution, and we are delighted that she has been succeeded by her predecessor, Ilse Oliestelder, whom I am sure many of you will remember from her time with us before, and we are chuffed to have her with us again as our Senior Gallery Associate. She joins her predecessor Jen Beresford, who has been back with us for just over a year now, (having been away to Canada and Yorkshire, and having two sons of her own). For Josyane and I it is really lovely and rewarding to welcome back our previous colleagues and associates and it lends a wonderful sense of continuity and “family” to the Partnership and Gallery, we are so pleased to have them with us. We have been really lucky to have the chance to work with all of them and really appreciate the hours of work, dedication and loyalty they have given and continue to give to Robert Young Antiques.

2012 also sees the launch of this our updated Website. Our above mentioned associates made it clear that our previous site had become rather outdated and tatty and encouraged us to freshen it up. Jen has worked closely with Online Galleries to put together this re-designed site and we hope that it will be easier and quicker to use and more aesthetically pleasing. We have found Online Galleries to be very helpful and informative and their experience in the field Art and Antiques has been invaluable. They speak English without too much jargon and their designer and technical folk have been patient and aware of and sensitive to our ideas and to the “feel” and content we wanted to achieve. We would be happy to recommend them to others.

We look forward to any feedback you may have about the content and operation of this new site, plus any suggestions you may have for improvements and will attempt to make it work for you our visitor. During the process, we have become aware that the site building exercise could become never ending, so we still have much content to add, but felt it best to go live and load up Archive images, Riviere Interior Portfolio updates and other little things we have up our sleeve, as we go along.

At the time of writing we are getting ready for our Ten Anniversary exhibition at the New York Winter Antiques Show, which opens for Preview on Thursday 19th January. It is always an exciting event, with many of the leading American and International specialist dealers showing consistently high quality and unusual antiques and works of art. It is the oldest and most venerable Antiques Show in the USA,( now in its 58th year), and we always feel privileged to be numbered among the exhibitors. We look forward to seeing some of you there again this year.

We hope that 2012 will bring you what you hope for.

15 December 2011

1st September 2011

We have waded the fast flowing waters in the Rockies, fished and ridden under the big blue and starlit skies of Wyoming, we have been warmed by the sun in France and been spoilt by nature's bounty in Provence, now September marks the beginning of the new season and we are ready. The start of anything is always exciting and we have fresh energy and ideas.

"FOLK ART" BOOKS
Towards the end of August, we have been tidying up and sorting through our storage facility. Among other things, we noticed that we are down to our last few original copies of my 1999 Mitchell Beazley published book "Folk Art", they are still boxed, in untouched as new condition and are the last copies available from the first edition, as we bought all the remaining copies from the publishers about five years ago. If anyone would like a copy they are still available at the cover price of £25 and I will be happy to sign and/or dedicate them. Postage and Package is £4 per copy within the UK and we can get very competitive rates to ship them abroad. Please email Jen directly and she will organise packing and shipping Email Jen

CATALOGUE #31
We are currently working on our Winter Catalogue #31, photography is already underway and it will probably be published and distributed towards the end of October. Please send an email if you would like to be included on our mailing list Email Office

STANLEY DYSON
Our Spring Exhibition "Stanley Dyson and His School" was an extraordinary success both here and abroad. These previously unknown works have met with wide acclaim and found homes in a variety of institutions and private collections. The Exhibition sold more than a hundred works by Dyson, the first works of his that have ever been on the market. There are no longer any of his works on exhibition in the Gallery, but if you missed the show, please do browse here to see his work.

15 December 2011

August 2011

The summer is upon us now and we have again just enjoyed a couple of weeks away at the A Bar A Ranch in Wyoming, where the dry fly fishing was unusually testing, due to the swollen rivers, the wildlife was exceptional, the variety, abundance and colours of the wild flowers wonderful and the vast emptiness of the wilderness country as awe inspiring as it seems every year. However, the thing that grows on us whenever we return, is the absence of technical communication. There is no mobile phone signal and internet access is intermittent, at best, and generally discouraged. There are no newspapers, televisions, radios, no background sound of incoming texts, emails or mobile ring tones and it feels like a different world. It is such a timely reminder for us, year on year, that there is still a world that exists without instant communication, a place where animals and humans struggle to exist comfortably through the long hard winters, but where the sun comes back to shine long enough to grow and harvest hay and modest crops, small communities thrive socially sharing the burdens of hardship, loss and tragedy and the joys of music, laughter, conviviality and trusted warm friendship. We find something there that challenges our accepted way of life, not necessarily better or worse, just challenging. However, it helps us to look at and question what matters and what is really important in both a personal and professional way, that is why we keep going back and why it is a real holiday.


The Masterpiece London 2011 show was again a pleasure to be involved in. The space and atmosphere are unique and the event seems to have established itself as the current premier Art and Antique Show in London. We enjoy selecting and exhibiting exceptional examples of Naive, Primitive and Folk Art in a forum that celebrates quality in the Fine and Decorative Arts over such a wide range of disciplines, irrespective of period or style. There is a strong contemporary undercurrent to the Masterpiece event that we wholeheartedly applaud and support. The architecture and layout of the remarkable temporary "tented structure" lend it a celebratory ambience, which is enhanced by the light, the wide avenues, the arched ceilings, elegantly presented catering and a comfortable sense of wellbeing. It has a generous scale, a feeling of space and an understated style that plays host to some of the most selective, respected and talented specialists in the world. It is somehow exciting in a way that other "comparable" events can only aspire to.

We believe that we play our part in the Contemporary Art World and many of the pieces we displayed at Masterpiece London 2011 were sold to collectors of Modern and Contemporary Art, some of whom had never previously bought what they considered to be an "antique". We have long believed that fine, genuine and sensitive works of art, of virtually any media or period can live happily next to and complement each other. The Masterpiece event goes some way towards celebrating this ideology.

We are now planning the rest of the year, our exhibitions and events and will publish our plans here on our Blog over the next few weeks. We hope to continue to move forward and to discover and promote pieces we believe in and that reflect the integrity, talent and spirit of those who created them."

15 December 2011

June 2011

Previous Exhibition: 12th Annual Exhibition of Antique Folk Art 13th-21st May 2011

A massive boldly carved and painted Wool Merchant's Trade Sign in the form of a Ram with old weathered surface texture and crusty patination; a curiously diverse and sensitively sculpted group of working Decoy Birds from a variety of origins; an intriguing and graphic collection of well patinated early primitive furniture including a unique Triple Comb Back primitive Windsor Armchair and several examples of pieces made for Taverns and working Farmhouses; a naive carved and painted Sailor Work Pictorial Panel depicting two three masted ships at sea; a handsome and important full bodied Weathervane bearing a close similarity to the famous "Percy Lion" at Alnwick Castle which forms part of the Arms of the Dukes of Northumberland; several rare and interesting small domestic items made from turned, hand carved and occasionally painted wood and an amusing Fairground Art Painted Canvas advertising "Dolly Dimples" a "Personality Fat Girl" attraction, are representative examples of pieces that were shown at our Annaul Folk Art Exhibition earlier this year.

What started out as a "one off" Exhibition in 2000, as part of the BADA Millennium Exhibition initiative, has grown into a celebrated annual event and over these past 12 years the understanding, appreciation and "status" of genuine Primitive, Naive and Folk Art has grown considerably.

It is the simplicity and character of these pieces that attracts us. Created by ordinary people, with no academic training, they show a vitality and creative spirit often lacking in mainstream works. Many of these pieces were originally made to serve a functional, rather than a decorative purpose, but their maker lent something of himself to their form, their quality and their finish. We value their original surfaces and we try to leave them as we find them and not to restore or tidy them up in a way that may compromise their integrity. We love the evidence of age and use, the wear and softening of edges, the fading, weathering or burnishing that have gently developed over the years and now lend an extra and unique individual quality to every piece. There is an unpretentious yet powerful artistic quality to them that is somehow immediately compatible with contemporary movements in art, architecture and interior design that could never have been imagined by their maker and which makes each piece so exciting and like a new discovery.

"Folk Art" is a broad field, encompassing a wide range of disciplines, periods, materials and individual styles. However the best examples are confidently executed, curiously timeless, engaging and somehow feel " special". We have individually sourced and selected each of the hundred or so Exhibits over the last year.

Please contact us if you would like a copy of the full colour illustrated catalogue which accompanied the Exhibition or if you would like any further information or details about the Exhibition or individual pieces.

15 December 2011

May 2011

Previous Exhibition: The Art Master Stanley Dyson and His School. Exhibition dates: 18 March-23 April 2011

We are delighted to have hosted the Exhibtion of the previously unknown artist Stanley Dyson. It has been an incredible journey from first discovering the whole of his life's work, the oils neatly wrapped in bundles, tied with string and the works on paper carefully stored in large portfolios, along with a remarkable and rigorously selected collection of works by his art class pupils, at his estate sale in Norfolk in 2007.

David Drew has carried out extensive research into Dyson's life and his efforts have jogged memories and created great local interest in Stanley's hometown of Chesterfield and the Mayor and Mayoress opened a small exhibit of selected works by him and some of his pupils from his Chesterfield days at the Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery on Tuesday 8th February 2011.

We find a genuine sensitivity within these works and love the extraordinary compatibility they share with the works of his pupils. We believe that the Art of children is greatly under recognised for its sincerity, natural naivety and exuberance and hope that small specialist shows like this will help to develop a wider appreciation of children's work, both vintage and contemporary.

Charlotte Edwards has written an insightful preview of our Exhibition in the March 2011 Issue of the 'World of Interiors' magazine, which has excited wider interest in the Paintings and Story of Stanley Dyson the Art Master as a private artist himself (see Press Section of this website to access the Article).

We also printed an illustrated Catalogue for the exhibition. If you would like to request a copy, please contact the Gallery by telephone or email and we can arrange to have one sent to you.

In the meantime many of the works are posted on our Website in the 'Stanley Dyson' section, where they are illustrated and complete with descriptions and dimensions, Exhibition prices are available from the Gallery. The Exhibition itself will include a quantity of further works including a collection of drawings and watercolours from varying periods of Stanley's working life as a Painter. It has been wonderfully exciting to show this body of work for the first time and we have been delighted that there was so much interest in Stanley's art. His Art now hangs in homes, museums and collections worldwide.

15 December 2011

January 2011

Our next exhibition will be the New York Winter Antiques Show, running from January 21st - 30th, at the Park Avenue Armory. The preview will be on January 20th. We will be exhibiting a collection of selected pieces of Country and Painted Furniture, Antique Folk Art - including Primitive and Naive Paintings - and fine pieces of early Treen.

Please see www.winterantiquesshow.com for full details.

15 December 2011

December 2010

Saturday 4th December's Financial Times magazine 'How To Spend It' features Katrina Burroughs' article entitled "The Real Dealers" discussing the rising profile of antiques in contemporary design and interiors. Click here to read online.

15 December 2011

August 2010

"Deloitte tell clients: buy antiques now"

[Antiques Trade Gazette, 17 August 2009]

Ian Stewart, the chief economist at Deloitte, consulted the data produced annually by the Antique Collector's Club (ACC) and issued an August statement to clients on the findings. In summary, Mr Stewart found that the "credit crisis could be supportive of antique furniture prices", that "the credit crunch has highlighted the need for investors to put their money into a range of assets. Last year all the major assets - equities, property, commodities - fell. Antiques are illiquid and they generally avoid the big swings seen in financial markets". Finally, "for those who worry about the long-term effects of governments printing money, antique furniture offers a hedge against future inflation".

15 December 2011

Autumn 2009

"BIDA Corporate Member Robert Young Winner of Best Regular Build Stand"

[British Institute of Interior Design Review, Autumn 2009]

We are proud to report that Christopher Vane Percy and his panel of BIID member judges presented Robert Young Antiques with the "Award for Best Stand Design" at the 2009 Olympia International Fine Art and Antiques Fair, London. We are delighted to have won this prestigious award for the seventh time.

Archive Update

We know that visitors to our site frequently visit the archive pages. There are many images in this section which are currently being processed to work with our updated site. As soon as this is completed the section will be activated and be available to clients and regular visitors to our site who register to join our 'online members' group. 

Gallery Tour