Step through the iron-wrought gates guarding the 300 year-old colonnade red-brick design by Sir Christopher Wren, home of the Royal Hospital Chelsea,* surrounded by looming leafy canopies and freshly mowed grounds. This is the site of one of London’s most prestigious art fairs for masterpieces of art, antiquities and design.
Though the art fair is setup in a temporary tent, attention to details offers a Trompe-l’œil effect characteristic of revered European paintings. The facade of the tent is covered by a digital print that stimulates a similar style to the actual buildings it sits next to. The entrance is framed by Doric columns that uphold a pediment. Upon entering, through a red carpet flanked by velvet ropes, lush carpet rolls out to meet Georgian columns that reach out to a soft glowing panel carrying the gallery’s name, before curving into archways. The atmosphere bares no sign of temporarily, instead there is a revered mood intermixed with a respectable disquiet.
Masterpiece London boasts museum-quality objects. If you have the pocket for it, you can bring home a masterpiece home. Choose between a painting by Renoir, a clock by Fabergé, or a piece of wearable, and very glittering, piece of art by Van Clef and Arps. However, even if you were not on the market for an old master, the fair is a feast for the eyes, showcasing intricate works from collections that have not yet made it to the museum. Marvel at fine wood inlays that ornament the door of a walnut amore, or get close to the sensuous curves of a Riva yacht.
The fair is not just about material objects, with a full public program of lecture series by industry experts, as well as, performances. There are daily tours led by Sotheby’s Institute of Art, cherry picking their highlights for visitors, departing daily from 12pm. There are also musical recitals on Steinway Pianos, opportunities for conversations with ceramic sculptors and artists of psaligraphy (paper cutting).
*The Royal Hospital Chelsea was founded by Charles II, as the home to any former solider of the British Army over the age of 65.
The Royal Hospital Chelsea
Public Fair Days
30 June – 11.00−21.00
1 July – 11.00-21.00
2-3 July – 11.00-18.00
4-6 July – 11.00-21.00