Archibald Knox and Modern British Art Triumph At Olympia Antiques Fair

Founded over forty years ago, the Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair is the most established art and antiques fair in London, and yet again the exhibitors put on a really fantastic event. The 42nd edition of Olympia International Art & Antiques Fair, which ended on Sunday, attracted over 26,500 visitors from countries as far afield as Argentina, the Philippines, Russia and Saudi Arabia. Sales were reported across multiple disciplines, bearing out a recent observation in The Times that “June is the month of the big London art and antiques fairs, and this year the market enters it in an optimistic mood.”* Over 4,000 people attended the Preview Day, with several dealers reporting early sales.

Several exhibitors made sales of Twentieth Century British Art, including Austin Desmond, returning to the Fair after several years, who sold works by Prunella Clough, Barry Flanagan and Vanessa Bell. Bell’s 1930 painting Autumn Leaves in a Jug, which numbered amongst the works sold, carried a ticket price of £25,000. The Taylor Gallery sold works by Edward Seago, including a painting of Cromer in the region of £100,000. We enjoyed what has proven our highest volume of sales in the past 23 years of us doing the show”, including works by L.S. Lowry, Dorothea Sharp, Andy Warhol and Banksy.

This year Olympia welcomed a strong contingent of European dealers, from countries including Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Olivé Mayoral from Barcelona sold a work on paper by Joan Miro in the region of £100,000, and Portuguese exhibitor Manuel Castilho sold an early 17th century Mughal miniature with a ticket price of £15,000. New Italian exhibitor AJASSA sold a Qing Dynasty Family portrait and a Chinese porcelain vase, and Schütz Fine Art from Austria sold two paintings by contemporary Chinese artists Wang Xiaosong and Hua Li for a combined price of £35,000. Gallery representative Nikolaus Leskovar commented:” This is our first time at Olympia and we’ll definitely be back. I like the mixture of exhibits at the Fair – it means I meet collectors I wouldn’t otherwise meet. I really feel like I have potential here that I don’t have in other cities and fairs”.

Sales of smaller items were made throughout the Fair. Alexandra Alfandary sold 13 important Meissen pieces to collectors from countries including Indonesia and Russia, and Andrew Muir, specialising in Clarice Cliff, selling over 80 items. Glass dealers Mark J West also sold over 80 pieces and M&D Moir sold an Emile Galle ship in the region of £2-3,000. Mary Cooke Antiques Ltd sold a 1769 Tea caddy modelled as a tea chest by royal silversmiths Parker & Wakelin to a buyer from America.

Alongside the Fair’s 141 exhibitors, Olympia also hosted a dynamic events programme with eminent speakers from institutions such as the British Museum, V&A, National Portrait Gallery and Sotheby’s Institute. The final day of the programme, which consisted of a series of three lectures organised by VIEW: A Festival of Art History in association with Institut français, proved especially popular. The programme also included lectures by leading interior designers and decorators Roger Jones, Mario Buatta and Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, whose talk “The Life of the House: How Rooms Evolve” was organised in association with the British Institute of Interior Design. Benjamin Aardewerk of Holly Johnson Antiques

A particular highlight of this year’s edition was a guest exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Art Nouveau designer Archibald Knox, curated by Anthony Bernbaum in association with the Archibald Knox Society. Showcasing the largest collection of Knox’s silverware and metalwork ever displayed in a single venue, the exhibition attracted visitors from Nottingham to Cincinnati. Alongside this non-selling exhibition, a number of dealers reported sales of British Art Nouveau items; Titus Omega sold a Liberty & Co Silver tankard designed by Archibald Knox for £38,500, and Jeroen Markies sold a large painting by Scottish Art Nouveau artist Robert Burns A.R.S.A. with a ticket price of £18,500.

Fair Director, Mary Claire Boyd, commented:”There were encouraging sales across all of the Fair’s diverse disciplines, and a notable increase in international collectors, setting a very positive precedent for next year’s Fair.”

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