Summer fairs.

Author:Field, Katherine
 
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MASTERPIECE LONDON took place 25 June--2 July in the peaceful grounds of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. Old Master dealers were relatively scarce and British art thinly represented, exceptions being the stands of Philip Mould & Company and James Harvey British Art. The former's miniature specialist, Emma Rutherford, compiled yet another excellent collection with the miniatures innovatively displayed in two-sided cases allowing a clear view of recto and verso.

The highlight of the stand was certainly the Nicholas Hilliard (c. 1547-1619) miniature of A Lady of the Tudor Court (Figure 1). Dating from about 1590 it sold for 200,000 [pounds sterling]. Works by Hilliard are rare to the market and while the sitter cannot be identified with certainty the picture is laden with symbolism identifying her as an individual close to Elizabeth I. The unusual cross-bow jewel in her hair, signifying brains over brute strength, notably appears in the oil portrait of the young Anne of Denmark after Paul van Somer in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London. Recently on display at the V&A's exhibition Treasures of the Royal Courts, the jewel is similarly shown adorning the Queen's coiffure. This jewel may have been the one inherited by James I from Elizabeth I that appears in the 1606 inventory of Queen Anne of Denmark's jewellery.

Also of note on this stand was a virtuoso self-portrait by Henry Wyatt (1794-1840) dated 1826 (Figure 2). The pose, both striking and unconventional, shows the young Wyatt at his very best. Artist self-portraits provide an unequalled opportunity for artists to demonstrate their skill. Without the distraction of fulfilling their client's demands they can experiment with new ideas, often making these among the most interesting examples of their work. This portrait certainly displays the influence of the Regency's pre-eminent portraitist, Sir Thomas Lawrence, whose studio Wyatt had entered from the Royal Academy schools in 1815.

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James Harvey British Art featured a decadent portrait of Lady Hillingdon by Sir Frank Dicksee (1853-1928), formerly in the private collection of Christopher Wood (Figure 3). The 1904 portrait shows Lady Hillingdon at her most elegant, wearing at her waist the rose named in honour of her beauty. She was a renowned...

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