A small group of young scholars gathered on Sunday afternoon to view London’s premier art fair, Masterpiece. The gathering of an international group of dealers, covering not only paintings, but the decorative arts, sculpture as well as antiquities and jewellery, makes a perfect opportunity to see wonderful treasures as well as to consider the importance of provenance and attribution as well as the strategies of the gallerists, with their sumptuous and inviting displays. We began our afternoon with a tour and discussion with Corrie Jackson, Senior Curator for the collection of the Royal Bank of Canada, Masterpiece’s lead sponsor. This opened up many avenues of discussion and the role of corporates in sponsoring local artists.
We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting a selection of painting dealers and also silver and sculpture dealers. One of the most exciting moments was at Alessandra de Castro, when the assistant opened the case of cameos and we were able to look at both sides of an exquisite piece and hold it. Equally, we were encouraged to pick up and hold the silver in the stand of N&I Franklin. We then visited Agnews and a discussion about their collection of works by the German artist, Lotte Lasterstein, who fled to Sweden before World War II and remained almost unknown. It was impossible to do more than glimpse some of the extra-ordinary works of art, but the experience of handling and looking closely remains with us all.