Published date: 24 Aug 2012
Apart from providing a showcase in which to display some of the highlights on offer, Bonhams Magazine likes to surprise readers. Perhaps even change firmly held views. This issue is no different. For instance, take the Mongols. I had them pigeon-holed as marauding savages who destroyed any vestiges of culture with a scary variety of weaponry. But when Colin Sheaf, Chairman of Bonhams Asia, told me about an exquisite Yuan jar in the Fine Chinese Art Sale that had been created because of the Mongols' rule, I thought we should know more. We asked John Man, the author of Kublai Khan and Xanadu, to explain how this infamous dynasty made exquisite ceramics rather than smashing them.
Another artifact – an Enigma machine on offer at Bonhams Knightsbridge – prompted another question. Was the Battle of the Atlantic really won with the help of a wooden box and a roomful of lateral thinking codebreakers? We called upon historian, Andrew Roberts for an expert explanation.
This issue also offers an insight into the taste of three notable Englishmen. The Duke of Devonshire inherited Chatsworth from his father in 2004. Since then, he has breathed fresh life into the house, and last month, he unveiled a museum-standard gallery in which to display his Old Master drawings. Celia Lyttelton went to visit the Duke to hear his views on mixing the old with the new.
Hamish Bowles, International Editor of US Vogue, and Gordon Watson, the celebrated art dealer, are fully paid-up members of this school. Both have endured considerable hardship in order to acquire their collections – as a student, Hamish ate nothing but Ryvita for a month so that he could afford a print by Etienne Drian. At Bonhams New York, they have joined together to hold a sale of the many things they have bought over the years. As with most collectors, one suspects it is so they clear space to buy even more... Enjoy the issue.
Fergus Lyons began his career in furniture by making his own desk. Now he's furnishing his reputation. Lucinda Bredin talks to him about how quality will always tell
Gordon Watson and Hamish Bowles are style gurus – and compulsive collectors. On the eve of their sale, Daisy Garnett asks about their influences and inspirations
Bonhams Hong Kong sale highlights Van Cleef & Arpels, which made the family fortune by hunting down the best stones from the very best sources in order to work their magic. Lisa Freedman reports
William Scott's post-war paintings are bold in their simplicity and their depiction of often humdrum objects and everyday utensils. Fiammetta Rocco finds out why
In 1942, the Battle of the Atlantic hung in the balance. Britain was threatened with starvation. But a cache of codebooks rescued from a sinking submarine provided a lifeline. Andrew Roberts describes the importance of the Enigma machine
Banksy has become the acceptable face of 'graffiti art'. To mark the Bonhams sale of Urban Art in Los Angeles, Cedar Lewisohn gives the backstory of street art and tells how Banksy came to be king
The Duke of Devonshire presides over one of the greatest collections of art in Europe. But, as he tells Celia Lyttelton, bring on the new
They had a reputation for savagery, but while the Mongols ruled China, astonishing art was created. John Man explains why
Timothy Leary was described by Nixon as "the most dangerous man in America". His correspondence with the poet Allen Ginsberg reveals why. Harry Fischer expands
A brooding painting by Jamie Wyeth demonstrates his talent for evoking atmosphere. Alan Fausel considers the American painter and his famously artistic family
The Dolly Sisters rose from nowhere to lord it over the gambling tables of Europe and bewitch the richest men in the world. What happened next? Neil Lyndon reports
Tuscan and Piedmontese wines deservedly have disciples, but top Valpolicella is also drawing aficionados, says Anthony Barne
Blessed with great galleries and museums, Brazil's São Paulo is art heaven, says Robert Turnbull
Journalist and political commentator Andrew Marr exults in the rainbow-hued icons and frescoes of this Kremlin cathedral