More than 40 leading dealers, the majority of them based in London, have thrown their support behind a new art fair announced last month, which will take the place of the cancelled Masterpiece fair in Chelsea in June.
The Treasure House Fair (22-26 June), formerly the London Summer Art Fair, is being launched by two of the original founders of Masterpiece—the London dealer Thomas Woodham-Smith and Harry van Der Hoorn, who owns the Dutch stand building company Stabilo.
“London is desperate for an art fair in June. It's always been part of the season, going back to the Grosvenor House days,” says Simon Phillips, the chairman of Ronald Phillips antique furnitures dealers and a co-founder of Masterpiece. Grosvenor House was an art and antiques fair founded in 1934, which folded in 2009 one year before Masterpiece was established. “It’s so much a part of what goes on in London. It's imperative,” he adds.
At the new fair, Phillips is joined by the likes of Richard Green, Charles Ede, Didier, Piano Nobile and Adrian Sassoon. Of the 44 confirmed galleries, 35 have London spaces, six have galleries in the US, five are based in Europe and two operate in East Asia. (The full list of dealers can be found at the bottom of this article.)
Covering a diverse range of disciplines ranging from fine art and furniture design to jewellery and antiquities, the Treasure House Fair is around one-third of the size of Masterpiece, which launched in 2010 with 140 dealers.
The now defunct fair was more international in scope, but was cancelled in January over “escalating costs and a decline in the number of international exhibitors”, according to a spokesperson for MCH Group, which owned Masterpiece.
Masterpiece’s chief executive Lucie Kitchener said the twin headwinds of the pandemic and Brexit had made the event commercially unviable. Jonathan Green, the chief executive of Richard Green, thinks that “Brexit is undoubtedly a problem”, particularly when it comes to the red tape around shipping. “A lot of dealers don't have the infrastructure to do all that,” he says.
Green expects clients who may be in London for the summer season—which includes social events such as the Royal Ascot horse races, the Wimbledon tennis tournament and the Chelsea Flower Show—to attend the new fair. “It's not quite the same animal as [Tefaf] Maastricht where people make a pilgrimage,” he says. “Masterpiece was much more of a shopping fair and I think it will probably be the same atmosphere.”
Phillips thinks “Brexit hasn't helped”, but notes that participating in a fair abroad poses other problems. “The paperwork is bad, but the bills that we get from the shippers is even worse,” he says. The dealer remains optimistic that US clients will attend—“we hope it’s not too late for museums”, he adds.
As for the smaller scale of the new venture, most exhibitors agree that well-curated booths of the top material are far more important than size. “Sticking to quality is all anyone needs to worry about,” says the ceramics dealer Adrian Sassoon.
Peter Osborne, the co-founder of the Modern British specialists Osborne Samuel Gallery, thinks that the new fair will still attract “significant support” from collectors both from the UK and overseas. “It is the most popular time of year to visit London with many events happening,” he says. “We always do a special gallery show which we then take to the fair. This gives our top collectors two opportunities and works very well for us.”
The list of dealers confirmed to participate so far are:
Adrian Sassoon Ltd
Alan Wheatley Art
Carter Marsh & Co
Charles Ede Ltd
Christopher Kingzett Fine Art
Edward Barnsley Collection
Facet & Fable
Galerie Cahn (Basel)
Galerie Gmurzynska (Zurich)
Geoffrey Diner Gallery (Washington)
Godson & Coles
Keshishian (London, New York)
Koopman Rare Art
A Lighthouse Called Kanata (Tokyo)
Long-Sharp Gallery (Indianapolis)
Michele Beiny (New York)
Patrick & Ondine Mestdagh (Brussels)
Perrin Fine Art Ltd
Portuondo (London, Madrid, New York)
RIVA / Ventura UK Ltd (Marbella, Mallorca, Barcelona, London)
Rountree Tryon Gallery
S Franses (London, New York)
S. J. Shrubsole (New York)
3812 Gallery (London, Hong Kong)
Univers Du Bronze (Paris)