Masterpiece London: everything you have to see
Returning to London for a 10th year, Masterpiece London brings together some of the finest collections of art, furniture and jewellery from antiquity to modern day. Held in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, the show is on such a grand scale that you’ll definitely need a map to help you navigate your way around. However, we’re here to bring you an essential edit of where to go and what’s worth seeing. Before the doors opened today we took a peek behind the velvet rope to give you the inside track on the very best on show.
First, remember this isn’t your average gallery: at Masterpiece, it’s not just about looking at art – it’s about buying it too. Nearly everything on display will be for sale and so if you’re looking for a new statement piece for your home or an antique to add to your collection, it can pay to get down to the fair early before the best bits get snapped up.
As soon as you enter you’ll be greeted with an interactive installation from sculptor Phyllida Barlow that you have to walk through to get into the main hall. You might recognise her work if you’ve visited the Royal Academy of Arts recently as she had a solo exhibition there that just wrapped. This immersive sculpture will have you walking through a mini forest of her iconic pom-poms that she’s been using in her work since the 1990s.
However, it’s not all about the art at this fair. There’s also a selection of rare book sellers – the one that has caught our eye this year is Peter Harrington, who this year will be exhibiting an unfathomable collection of first edition signed copies of James Bond novels (which can be bought for £2.5 million). From a copy of Live and Let Die signed to Winston Churchill to The Spy Who Loved Me inscribed to Robert Kennedy, this is a collection any Flemming fan work won’t want to miss.
Last year’s winner of the Outstanding Object award Cindy Chao is back this year with her astonishing jewellery that became mini works of art in their own right. By using an ancient technique called lost-wax casting, her designs can be incredibly detailed and beautifully complex.
Presenting for the first time at Masterpiece is the Dover Street gallery Ricahrd Saltoun who’s booth will be solely dedicated to the abstractionist Bice Lazzari. Now she is known as one of the greatest female abstract artists of her time, but during her life she was relatively unknown outside of Italy. At this booth, you’ll be able to see and buy her broad, muted canvases without leaving the capital.
If you tire of looking at all of this fine art and antiquities you can always do some good old fashioned people watching from the comfort of any of the pop-up dining options courtesy of Caprice Holdings. If you want to remain in the middle of the action, then head to Scott’s seafood and champagne bar, or for a more secluded bite try The Ivy Chelsea Brasserie’s corner at the far end.
For those who like their art to be ancient then stop at stand A2 where you’ll find Galerie Chenel. Masters in archeological finds and specialists in Roman sculpture, the booth will be packed with chiselled marble that dates back thousands of years. One highlight is a Head of Hermes that dates to the 1st century AD and has come via the cousin of Winston Churchill, Edward G Spencer-Churchill.
Masterpiece London will be taking place from 27 June to 3 July, in South Grounds, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, London, SW3 4LW