Posts tagged ‘London’

February 9, 2020

Quinneys Rehearsals

Our rehearsals for the play Quinneys continue apace – with Dr George Rodosthenous leading the direction of the performances.  This week George assembled the whole team, including Professor Jonathan Pitches, who is taking the lead on the ‘Dealing with Authenticity’ workshop which takes place at The Bowes Museum on the day following the restaging of Quinneys at the Witham in Barnard Castle.  Here’s the whole team at the rehearsals –

The Quinneys team – back (Annabel, Mark, Fergus), middle (Stephenson, Hannah, Samuel), Front (George, Jonathan, India, Morgan).

George (centre) directing India (sitting) and Morgan (back) and Fergus (right) in rehearsals for Quinneys.

George had the cast reading sections of the play, revealing insights into the characterisations, and drawing out some great performances from the actors.

Annabel and Fergus reading for ‘Posy’ and ‘James’.

Here’s (left) Annabel and Fergus taking on the character of ‘Posy’ (Quinneys’ daughter) and ‘James Miggot’ (Quinney’s workshop foreman).  And (right), George, directing India (seated), playing ‘Mable Dredge’ (Quinney’s typist), and Morgan (background) playing ‘Cyrus P. Hunsaker’ the American millionaire collector, with Fergus as ‘James’.

And another few photos of the cast getting into character – with (left to right) India, Samuel (as the eponymous Joseph Quinney), Morgan, Annabel and Fergus, rehearsing a scene set in ‘Quinney’s sanctuary’ – Quinney’s collector’s paradise, full of extraordinary antiques.

Quinneys actors – (left to right) India, Samuel, Morgan, Annabel, Fergus.

We are working with The Bowes Museum and local antique dealers in Barnard Castle to source the antiques for the stage set.  In 1915, when the play was first performed, several well-known London antique dealers loaned antiques for the set, including Walter and Ernest Thornton-Smith, who, co-incidently (or maybe not) traded in Soho Square, London, which was also the fictional location of Quinney’s  antique  shop in the novel ‘Quinneys’ (1915).  Indeed, one of the aspects we are thinking through in the restaging of Quinneys is the notion of authenticity – Jonathan Pitches will be working with the actors, reflecting on authenticity of performance and authenticity of character in acting, alongside me (Mark) working on authenticity of objects (antiques) and authenticity of identity (of antique dealers), in the ‘Dealing with Authenticity’ workshop on the day following the performance at The Bowes Museum.

To that end, George got me to work with an imaginary ‘antique chair’, examining it as if I were an antique dealer, for the student actors – (that’s as much acting as I am going to do!) –

Mark, explaining how an antique dealer examines an ‘antique’ chair……

Hannah, another of the student actors, also joined in the rehearsals, playing the part of Susan Quinney, Quinney’s wife – here’s Annabel (left) as ‘Posy’, with Hannah (right) as ‘Susan’, reading from a scene in Act 1.

Annabel (left) and Hannah (right) rehearsing for Quinneys.

George and the actors are certainly creating a fantastic atmosphere, and I am sure that when Quinneys is eventually performed on Saturday 28th March at The Witham, is will be a brilliant production!  Here’s a final few photos of George and the team.

George (centre) with the student actors at the rehearsals for Quinneys.

And a final, much more professional photograph, of Stephenson, India and Samuel (back row), with Annabel and Fergus (front).

part of the cast for Quinneys – Stephenson, India, Samuel (back) with Annabel and Fergus (front)

Don’t forget to book your tickets for Quinneys – you can book your seat HERE


April 17, 2015

Gill and Reigate in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The museum archives at Minneapolis Institute of Arts are a fantastic resource for researching the synergies between the development of museum collections and the history of the antique trade. Thanks again for all their help with the Antique Dealers research project to Jennifer Olivarez and Dawn Fahlstrom in the curatorial offices at MIA!  As I discovered, the ‘object files’ at MIA record scores of transactions with antique dealers, both in the USA (as you would expect), and via the British trade (as you would expect!).

This accession record card (ref 23.55) for a ‘XVIth Century table’, which entered the collections at MIA in 1923 (facilitated by the Washburn Fund), records just one of those transactions, and also highlights the relationships between the museum and the market. The accession record card describes a ‘table: with carved bulbous legs and inlaid side rails and stretchers, 1580-1620’ – ‘from Over Court Manor, Almondsbury, Gloucestershire’ – with a ‘Note: repaired below legs and stretchers’. The table was purchased from the British based antique dealers Gill& Reigate (who also had a branch in New York in the 1920s – hence, I expect, the sale direct to MIA).

gill and reigate 1923

Museum Accession Record Card, 23.55. ‘Furniture, English XVI Century’. Showing accession of a XVIth century table, supplied by Gill & Reigate in 1923 (purchase price redacted). Courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo MW 2015.

The archive file also contains a copy of the black & white photograph of the table (which is the vertically displayed photocopy image in the accession record card above) – and which appears to be original Gill & Reigate dealer record photograph –

gill and reigate 1923 3

Museum object file 23.55. Photograph of XVIth century table. Courtesy of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo MW 2015.

The antique dealers, decorators, and furniture manufacturers and retailers, Gill & Reigate Limited were trading at 73-77 Oxford Street and at 7 Soho Square, London when they supplied the table to The Minneapolis Institute of Art.  The firm were established in the 1890s, and by the 1920s were already well-patronised enough to have been granted a Royal Warrant.  These advertisements from the 1920s illustrate the changing locations of the firm, as they moved from Oxford Street and Soho Square in the 1910s and 1920s (also trading as ‘The Soho Galleries’)……

G and R 1921

Advertisement for Gill & Reigate, 1921.

G and R 1927

Advertisement for Gill & Reigate, 1927.


…………to these very elegant premises in George Street, London W1 in the early 1930s (see below).

Gill and Reigate 25 26 George Street London June 1937 Conn

Gill & Reigate, 25-26 George Street, London W1, c.1930.

The archive at MIA also contains a letter from Gill & Reigate, from their Oxford Street address, dated 17th August 1923, addressed to Russell A. Plimpton Esq., who had only a couple of years earlier (1921) taken up the post of Director of Minneapolis Institute of Arts.


gill and reigate 1923 1

Letter from Gill & Reigate Limited, to Russell Plimpton, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 17th August 1923. Museum object file 23.55. Courtesy of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo MW 2015.

The letter is essentially part of an exchange between Gill & Reigate and the Director at MIA focused on establishing the provenance, and by extension of course the authenticity, of the table – and this (authenticity) was something that was becoming ever more important in the period – if you are interested do look up Stefan Muthesius’s important and groundbreaking essay on this subject, ‘Why do we buy Old Furniture? aspects on the authentic antique in Britain, 1870-1910’ (Art History, vol. 11, No.2, pp. 231-254, June 1988).

Anyway, the letter states that the table ‘originally stood in Overcourt Manor, Almondsbury, Gloucestershire’, and continues, ‘Overcourt is an old Elizabethan Manor, and the table was in the possession of the Cann-Lippincott’s who were Lords of the Manor. The table had only lately been moved from there to Whitechurch, Salop, where Mr Gill procured it.’ What the writer of the letter  omits to say is the link between Over Court and Whitechurch… would be interesting to know how and why the table ended up in Whitechurch where Mr Gill ‘procured it’….but maybe I fall into the trap of rehearsing the trope of the dealer as ‘problem’…and the history of antique dealers is much more complex, and richly patterned, that that old chestnut!

Incidentally, Over Court Manor unfortunately no longer exists, it was destroyed by fire in 1977.  Apparently only the gate arch to the Manor remains….

Overcourt Manor

Over Court, Almondsbury, undated, but maybe early c.1970s?. Photo Paul B. Townsend – wikicommons.

There’s much more to say about the fabulous archives at Minneapolis Institute of Arts……so do keep your eye on the Antique Dealer Project Blog.


October 5, 2014

The London trade in microcosm-the changing face of Mount Street

Mount Street in more recent times. The architecture remains but the focus of the street has changed forever.

Mount Street in more recent times. The architecture remains but the focus of the street has changed forever.

You'll have to take my word for it as this is the best image I can find, but most of the shops here, pictured in 1976, are antique dealers.

You’ll have to take my word for it as this is the best image I can find, but most of the shops here, pictured in 1976, are antique dealers.

Located off of Berkeley Square and between Grosvenor Square and Piccadilly, Mount Street is an idyllic location that has long been described as the heart of what estate agent Peter Wetherell still describes as the Mayfair village. Looking at the immaculate rows of late Victorian shop fronts, now largely filled with fashion retailers, clothiers and the like it is easy to forget that this one street alone used to provide the addresses of an extraordinarily high number of dealers at the Grosvenor House Fair.

Nowadays the exceptional general dealer Kenneth Neame and the Asian art specialist A J Speelman remain the only dealers with ground floor shop fronts in the street (though others do operate by appointment from 1st floor premises) but in the past the street was visited by every serious wealthy collector as a matter of course. As the project continues and more data is gathered then a more complete picture of the sheer numbers of dealers in the street will emerge but my own list comprises the following:

Barling of Mount Street (Oriental art)

R L Harrington (English furniture and related objects)

The dealer R L Harrington at 120-121 Mount Street in 1961

The dealer R L Harrington at 120-121 Mount Street in 1961

John Keil (English furniture dealer with premises in Knightsbridge and, in times past, Bristol and Bath)

Stanley J Pratt (antique fireplaces and accessories)

Trevor (English furniture)

Stair and Co (one of the pre-eminent English furniture dealers-see Mark’s earlier post)

Pelham Galleries (English and French furniture plus Chinoiserie decoration)

H Blairman and Sons (Regency and later furniture and decorative arts)

John Sparks (Oriental art)

Mansour Heskia (rugs and carpets)

Alistair Sampson (early English pottery and country furniture)

Mount Street Galleries (still exists but different scope-the emphasis has switched from furniture to contemporary art)

Patrick Jefferson (English furniture and associated objects)

Walter Waddingham (English furniture)

Gerard Hawthorn (Oriental art)

Marks Antiques(Antique silver and Faberge)

Bruford (jewellery and silver)

Quite a selection I’m sure you’ll agree.

Hopefully the images give something of a flavour of this remarkable street but if you were lucky enough to see the area in its antiques heyday and have images to share then please get in touch.

Nowadays the largest concentrations of dealers in London are in Kensington Church Street, Portobello Road and the Fulham Road. With South Audley Street (at the end of Mount Street and another traditional heartland of the trade) also beginning to attract  fashion brands the Mayfair trade will never quite be the same again. My advice would be to visit whilst you still can, even if just to window shop. There are still some remarkable pieces to see here and who knows-you may be a part of the trade’s fight back against the multinational giants.

Chris Coles,

Project volunteer.

The last paragraph says it all. An undated entry for the street kept in the Westminster Archive.

The last paragraph says it all. An undated entry for the street kept in the Westminster Archive.

Home Subjects

a working group dedicated to the display of art in the private interior, c. 1715-1914

The Period Room: Museum, Material, Experience

An International Conference hosted by The Bowes Museum and The University of Leeds

H. Blairman & Sons Ltd

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 19th & 20th centuries

Museum Studies Now?

'Museum Studies Now?' is an event which aims to discuss and debate museum and heritage studies education provision.

The Burlington Magazine Index Blog

art writing * art works * art market

East India Company at Home, 1757-1857

A research project investigating the history of the antiques trade in Britain in the 19th & 20th centuries