18 October 2018

Marina Oriental Art : The Dealer Behind The Objects

Marina Oriental Art is one of the finest and most well established Asian Art specialists in London...

The dealership is run by Marina Kokhan, a trained classical historian well versed in the visual cultures of (to name a few !) Japan, China, India and Ancient Greece

Working for many years as a museum curator in Moscow, Marina became particularity passionate about Japanese Art. Her specialism is the Meiji period; world renowned for it's beautiful intricacies, and of which she holds some of the rarest and finest pieces in existence.

Marina, please tell us what is so special about Japanese Meiji?

Japanese Meiji is highly collectable. And there’s good reason for it. First of all, it encompasses a very short historical period. It refers to objects made during the Meiji Period which lasted between 1868 and 1912. Everything was carefully hand made by incredibly skilled craftsmen. During that time there was no copying, and only a limited amount of objects were created. At the same time there’s huge variety in terms of materials used because it encompasses art work from every field; bronze sculpture, miniatures like netsuke and inro, metalwork, armour, lacquer, ceramics, silver, porcelain and enamel objects. Beyond technical virtuosity, of course, stylistically the art and design of the Meiji Period is hugely desirable because it's so elegant. And that’s why prices are quite high. But it’s a very specialised and a very niche market.

How did you find yourself here at Grays?

All of us who have an expertise in the field know each other; collectors, dealers, designers and historians. That’s why it is important to be based at Grays. It’s a place with tradition and reputation. Trust is very important in our work because we are trading with authentic objects. It is also marvellously well- located in Mayfair. There is a waiting list for dealers to be given a shop at Grays- I was on that waiting list once!

How does Japanese Meiji Art relate to you?

I worked for many years at the State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow. It’s a museum in an incredible building with an astonishing collection. I loved my role there and as it was life changing: it focused my energy and knowledge on the Meiji Period. I admire the creativity and quality of Meiji art. And it’s a great privilege to work with such fine pieces. That's where my expertise lies and it will continue to be my life's work. I started working in the private sector, as many of us did, during the Perestroika movement. In 1992 we opened the first Gallery of Oriental Art in the centre of Moscow, just down the road from the Kremlin. We were based within a section of the vast State Museum building and the Gallery still exists today. It was my personal life that brought me to London.

How do you find trading from Grays?

I am very happy here. People know me and I am well established. I have lots of new customers and I still keep in touch with designers and collectors I used to work with in Moscow. I get a lot of compliments about my stock which gives me confidence in my work. I have my regular customers and others who come to Grays to look for something special. Today I sold a particularly fine piece of silver and enamel Meiji art...

Interviewed Thursday 13 October 2018 by Titika Malkogeorgou

Although it's hard to select only a few: here are some of our favourite pieces now available at Marina Oriental Art,  Grays...

Meiji Period Silver Shibayama Carving and Encrustation Small Decorative Tray in the Shape of a Fan, late 19th century, Japan.

Meiji Period Satsuma Painted Ceramic Vase, late 19th century, Japan

Meiji Period Shibayama  and Enamel Metal Box, Late 19th – Early 20th century, Japan

Meiji Period Metalwork and Enamel Tray signed Kinza, late 19th century, Japan

Meiji Period Metalwork and Enamel Tray (underside) signed Kinza, late 19th century, Japan

One of a Pair of Ceramic Vases, 19th century, China

Meiji Period Metalwork and Enamel Miniature Pair of Vases, late 19th century, Japan

Meiji Period Metalwork and Enamel Large Vase, Late 19th century Japan

Left: Boxwood and Lacquer Netsuke Dog, late 19th century, Japan
Right: Boxwood and Lacquer Netsuke Sleeping Boy, late 19th century, Japan

11 October 2018

Art Deco: A Glamorous Pastiche

Ever- popular, evocative of an atmospheric age, glamorous, over -done, under appreciated: whatever you think of  'Art Deco' it is a style which refuses to stay quiet...

What would Zelda Fitzgerald, Fashion-forward author and Chronicler of the 1920's-wear today ? Imagined by Elle Magazine 

Throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty first, interior designers, architects, fashion designers and stylists have consistently referenced and re-invented Art Deco- a characteristic style which first took off in the early 1920's.

Perhaps one of the reasons so many fall in love with Deco is it's nature as a style with a story : it crystallises the great changes in politics, aesthetics and society which were brewing before the start of the First World War.

Fundamentally a style of the mid-war period: Art Deco borrows ideas and methods of production from the Modernist movement. Fauvism, Cubism, De Stijl, Futurism and Contructivism . It appropriates serious elements from all of these styles without losing its sense of wit and characteristic self - consciousness.

As a style it embraced visual arts, architecture and design in its many forms. Luxury and function became its trademark. Folkloric traditions that had inspired earlier artistic movements were superseded for technological progress.

Faith was in the new and the exotic, so an extensive use of chrome, steel and new plastics as much as silver, platinum, diamonds and jade created a new sensibility which explored themes of luxury and modernity.

As with many things pre-war : Deco's  philosophy and application was challenged in the 1940's. It's strong character began to seem formulaic and it's values disingenuous.

The artistic style which had defined an age came back in fashion with a bang in the 1960's, and was  re-established as an enduring global design movement. It was in this period of re discovery that the term 'Art Deco' was in fact coined.

Dynamic, geometric, colourful and always glamorous remains suggestive and highly desirable today.

Today we've narrowed down the wonderful and fabulous world of Deco in the visual arts to a few carefully chosen luxury Jewelled pieces, now available at Grays

Written by Titika Malkogeorgou
Deco Emerald and Diamond Clip, Available at Moira Fine Jewellery

Deco Sapphire and Deco Ruby Bracelets, Available at Moira Fine Jewellery 
Deco Diamond and Sapphie Drop Earrings, Available at Saul Greenstein 

Deco Onyx and Diamond Ring and Deco-style Diamond Domed Ring, Available at Wimpole

Deco French Lacquered Japanese Style Bracelet, Available at Pushkin Antiques 

Deco French Aquamarine Pendant, Available at Boris Sosna 

Deco Long- Chain Necklace with Fire Opal and Platinum, Available at Matthew Foster 

6 October 2018

Patrick Boyd Carpenter: ' It’s a Proper Old Fashioned Antique Shop...'

When Patrick Boyd Carpenter moved to Grays Antiques, it was 1986 and he was only 19 years old. Previously, he was running a successful business dealing in contemporary art in The Church Gallery on Bryanston Street, Marble Arch. Obsessed with art and antiques; he bought his first antique object, a case of taxidermy birds, when he was just six years old. We paid a visit to his shop at Grays to find out more ...

Clockwise from top left : Mid 19th.Century Victorian Watercolour Portrait of a Young Scholar: 19th Century Victorian Watercolour of a scene from Hamlet, attributed to Philip Francis Stephanoff : 18th Century German Wax Relief Portait of Karl Anselm : 1970's Acrylic on Panel 'Three Dancing Figures' by Jessica Gwynne. 


Patrick, please tell us:  why Grays ? 

Well, Grays is the best place for antiques! In those days there were still several antique markets of course. But Grays was always the best, and there was a waiting list to get in. I was interviewed by Bennie Gray. He asked me if I had reserve stock before considering me for a space, because stock was selling so fast. And it was very busy. The antiques business has changed a lot over the years.

In what way would you say the business has changed ?

I moved from dealing in contemporary art to antiques early on following the closure of The Church Gallery in 1988. You have to follow the market; today I deal in a completely different type of item than I used to. I used to specialise in antique prints and English watercolours. They fell out of fashion, though I have noticed that the watercolours are beginning to rise. Items I sold years ago, I am happy to buy back. Luckily, I have many private collectors who are often willing to part with choice items. I also make a good living by buying ‘auctioneers mistakes’. Mis- catalogued items. Just between you and me, many auction houses are not the experts they pretend to be!

That’s very exciting!  What do you like to buy ?

I buy anything I like that’s handmade and good quality from the last five hundred years. And I travel everywhere, though nowadays the items tend to come to me. I just bought an amazing collection of Eduardo Paolozzi sculptures. He was an extraordinary figure within British art. He was a Scottish artist of Italian heritage, who lived in Paris, and was established in Chelsea. Influenced by Giacometti and the Surrealists, now much of his work is exhibited at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. It’s a remarkable addition to my stock I am very happy about.

How would you describe your collection ?

I buy from the gut. I buy what I like and what I can afford. That way you don’t lose. In terms of stock, I’ve got a good selection, Master drawings, sculptures, oils, textile, and prints. I am one of the last of the general high quality antique dealers.  I sell in my Grays shop and on social media.  Everybody comes to W1 and people know that I am here.  Whenever I have new stock come in – my customers are quick to pick up on it and it usually sells quickly. But you’ve got to put a bit of yourself into the business. Some of the time I am a therapist to customers. I know people come here to talk to me. And maybe they buy the item they are interested in too!

Tell us what do you personally most like?

My collection is British and European art, and I particularly like drawings. I feel it’s the brain on paper. I like the immediacy. The preparatory drawing is often more spontaneous than the finished work.

May I say that I really like this owl painting, would you tell me something more about it ?

It’s a 1920s oil painting of a Tawny Owl by Lodewijk Van Der Steen 1891-1954, circa 1928. A really unusual subject. I like to have something for everyone in the shop. No one should leave empty handed, and this is one great painting of an owl!

Interviewed Tuesday 25th September 2018 by Titika Malkogeorgou

Feast your eyes on some of the fabulous, fascinating and eclectic items available right now at Patrick Boyd Carpenter Fine Art...

Emma Raimbach 1810-1882 Watercolour double portrait Signed and Dated

Eleazar Albin Hand Coloured Copper Engravings Early 18th Century From The Natural History of Birds. 1st Edition

George Thomas Paice 1854-1925. Oil on Canvas "Zebba" 1913

16th Century Carved Limewood Madonna by Franconia, Follower of Tillman Reimenschneider

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi Maquette for 'Camera' c.1878

Medieval Manuscript Page.14th.Century. Calligraphy on Vellum

Denis William Reed R.W.A 1917-1979. Oil on canvas. The Minstrel.

27 September 2018

Notes on the Nude : A Year of Debate

This year has seen a number of arts institutions embroiled in heated debate over the exhibition ( or removal) of art featuring nude or naked bodies.

We take a look at some of the issues that have come to the fore, and muse on the surprisingly precarious position of 'the Nude' in contemporary discourse...

The 'Nude Police' turn gallery-goers away from a Rubens Painting, in a spoof video for Flanders Tourism Board

The first sign that 2018 might be a troubling year for the posed and partially clothed was the furore that greeted Manchester Art Gallery in January.

The Gallery decided to remove the popular Pre-Raphaelite painting 'Hylas and the Nymphs', (depicting several sensual, partially clothed female bodies) from it's walls.

The galleries action was not a permanent curatorial move, but rather a deliberate provocation and invitation to debate.

The temporary removal was part of a participatory exhibition in which visitors were invited to leave their thoughts on the painting (and its absence) on post-it notes in the blank space of the gallery wall.

The move prompted a furious backlash, with anger and derision moving from post-it notes to twitter to national news networks. Many believed the removal amounted to censorship, with the gallery accused of both Victorian prudishness and patronising political-correctness.

Whatever you may think of the decision - a debate was certainly begun , and the painting is now back on permanent display.

 As many social media platforms, including Facebook, have placed bans or restrictions on posts containing the artistic nude, users have reacted with confusion and fury.

In July, a canny PR team at the Flanders Tourism Board decided to capitalise on the multiple debates and disagreements that had played out over social media during the year.

The tourism board created a humorous video  of  'Nude Police' approaching and escorting away gallery-goers at Ruben's House in Antwerp to prevent them from gazing at the morally compromising figures of Ruben's famous nude figures.

The video and the subsequent tourism campaign , declaring 'Social Media Doesn't Want You To See Ruben's Paintings' was playful in tone, but raised some serious questions.

Debates over the nude in public exhibitions continue to rumble on in the UK press. This week The Royal Academy's planned exhibition on Renaissance Nudes was accused by The Telegraph of having 'a strict gender quota' on naked figures in response to the #metoo and #timesup movements.

Curators of the exhibition have denied any such influence, and have pointed to the widespread use of the male nude in art of the Renaissance.

The nude in art , particularly art on public display, has sparked debate throughout history. The social and political mores of the time have always been brought to bear on the discussion of these objects. It seems as if 2018 may be a critical and intriguing flash point in the reception of the artistic nude in our own time.

We've picked out some of the finest artistic examples of the nude in art objects currently both on display and on sale at here at Grays...

Detail from Yuri Klevtsov 'Nude' Oil on Canvas, 1970s. Available at Tabunov Antiques

Nikolay Kasevich 'Female Nude' Oil on Canvas, 1934.  Available at Tabunov Antiques

Silver and Enamel Mounted Jasper Box. German, c1680. Available at Peter Szuhay

Agate Cameo, Italian. Probably a 16th Century Copy of an Ancient Design. Available at Peter Szhuay 
Frederico Carasso 'Standing Nude' 1966. Bronze. Available at David Horton

Follower of Henri Toulouse Lautrec, Chalk on Paper, c1900. Available at Patrick Boyd Carpenter Fine Art

Anders Zorn 'The Two' Etching c1916. Available at Anita Gray

Meissen Vase with Two Panels of Cupid, c1880. Available at Serhat Ahmet 

20 September 2018

London Fashion Week Special: Bring on the Bows !

Models walk the catwalk at London Fashion Week 2018 for Emilia Wickstead (Left) and Erdem (Right)

Last week at London Fashion Week we saw various re- inventions of the classic bow. We saw rebellious edged feminine designs in jewellery and big couture houses like Chanel, Garrard, Gucci and Tiffany’s providing their own twist on the trend.

The bow motif is associated with the Rococo period : a lady clad in bows and lace epitomises traditional feminine elegance. The Rococo bow was a faithful and enduring adornment of women’s dress as fashion moved from stiff and formal, to loose and playful. It's ubiquity disappeared somewhat following the French Revolution, possibly because of it's association with the frivolity and excesses of the Ancien Regime.

The bow made something of a fashion comeback in the Victorian era as a representation of romantic feeling, and as part of growing sentimental yearnings for a vanished past. A past of chivalry and courtly romance seemed a long way from the smoke and smog of the industrial revolution. Perhaps it is not too hard to imagine the humble bow as a badge of protection against a rapidly changing social landscape.

With advances in jewellery making techniques the bow developed in the Edwardian period into a more elaborate and intricate style inspired by lace making and silk trailing ribbons. Geometric or fluid designs appeared as signature jewellery and personalised pieces.

In the 20th century the bow motif became a perennial favourite. Bows are constantly re-introduced and re-invented as classic pieces worn in alternative and imaginative ways.

The overt association of the bow with the feminine and the frivolous is a playful concept for the modern designer : they may lean in to it's traditional connotations , or subvert them in new and exciting ways .

Want to buy in to the bow ? We've picked up some breathtaking beauties available now at Grays...

A Platinum Mounted Bow brooch of Openwork Lace Design, Set with Brilliant and Rose Cut Diamonds. English c.1910. Available at Nigel Norman Fine Jewels 

Carter & Sons Geometric Bow Clip in Yellow and Red Tone Gold. American c.1940. Available at Moira Fine Jewellery 

Shaded Blue and Pink Sapphire bow Brooch Set in White Gold. Available at Moira Fine Jewellery 
A Pair of Amethyst and Diamond Earrings Topped with Miniature Bows Set in Gold. Victorian c.1870
Available at Moira Fine Jewellery 
Blue Enamel and Seed Pearl Brooch set in White Gold. Victorian.
Available at C & B Gems 

Natural Diamond and Sapphire Bow Pendant. Edwardian Period.
Available at Wimpole Antiques 


                                        Written by Titika Malkogeorgou September 2018

13 September 2018

Headbands, Tiaras & Hair Jewellery : The Grays Way

Designers and stylists have declared 2018 the year of  head and hair adornment...it’s time to shake off any shyness and invest in dazzling hair jewellery:  diadems, tiaras, and yes- crowns!

A Model at the Dolce & Gabbana Ready-to-Wear Fall 2018 Catwalk Show 

Contemporary crowns and tiaras have a different significance to the traditional royal adornment. Queens, empresses, and princesses of course regularly wear tiaras at formal evening occasions but the symbolism of the crown itself is more complex than you might think.

As symbols of betrothal, crowns can be thought of similarly to a wedding band in that their circular structure is a visual reminder of eternity and everlasting love.

Historically, headbands and hair jewellery offered a no-holds-barred approach to show of wealth and power. A lavish display is no more noticeable than when draped around the wearers head and hair, so the medium has historically been a splendid opportunity for the aristocracy to show off.

Tiaras were often given as wedding gifts, or to celebrate marital milestones and anniversaries. They are traditionally worn around the head or on the forehead as circlet. Tiaras can be standalone pieces, or part of a ‘Parure’.

A Parure is a group of two, three or more matching pieces of jewellery, such as a brooch, or earrings, bracelets and a necklace. The pieces can be worn all at once, or interchangeably.

The Parure became the leading embellishment in the courts of Europe in the 18th century. The French lead the extraordinary fashion for Parure at the court of Louis XIV. His artisans are credited with the most imaginatively conceived and highly skilled jewellery production.

Whether you are after a full Parure or a more low key head and hair adornment ; you will find a fascinating wealth of options at Grays!

Take a look at some of our favourites below …

Mid-Victorian Silver , Gold and Diamond Tiara Crown. Available at Moira Fine Jewellery 

Antique Diamond and Feather Tiara c.1906. available at Moira Fine Jewellery 

Diamond Floral Spray Hair Clip c1840. Available at Michael Longmore 

French Floral Spray Diamond and Blue Enamel Clip c1850. Available at Bellum 

Edwardian Gold and Diamond Tiara. Available at D B Gems 

Written by Titika Malkogeorgou
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