Issue 42, Spring 2015

Editor's Letter: Lucinda Bredin "When I was a child, my grandfather would take me to Oxford's Ashmolean Museum where we would play a game as to which work of art we would take home. I would like to say I chose Uccello's Hunt in the Forest or one of the museum's matchless Chinese vases. But for me, the standout object was a rusty lantern carried by Guy Fawkes on the night of the Gunpowder Plot. It wasn't what it looked like – you can buy distressed metalwork like that in any Moroccan souk – it was because it had a tangible connection to an event that changed history which made it so compelling.

Some of the objects in this season's sales have an equally exciting claim on our imagination. In April's Waterloo Sale, for example, held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle, there is the Marquess of Anglesey's gold box. The Marquess, then styled as Earl of Uxbridge, was the solider who having had his leg blown off, remarked to the Duke of Wellington, moments after the event, "By Gad, Sir, I've lost my leg."(To which the Duke replied, "By Gad, Sir, so you have!") Once amputated, the shattered leg went on to have a ghoulish life of its own – it was put on display at Waterloo and became a tourist attraction. By contrast, the Marquess's gold box is an exquisite item in its own right, but it has an added resonance because it belonged to a legend of stoicism.

Another auction that brings history alive is of Tipu Sultan's arms and armour in April's Islamic and Indian sale in New Bond Street. Tipu, the soi-disant Tiger of Mysore, was a thorn in the British side. With his superior weaponry, he was able to hold off the invaders. One can see why: a magnifi cent gem-set sword with a tiger's head would be enough to dazzle anyone on the battlefield.

But it is our cover star who exemplifies the way in which magic dust can be sprinkled on art and artefacts. Bonhams is offering some 700 objects from the estate of Lauren Bacall, who died last year. Bacall had a superb eye – and that translated into a superlative collection of art and antiques. As a lifelong fan of the star, it was a wonderful experience to walk round her apartment at The Dakota in New York with her son, Sam Robards and Bonhams specialist, Jon King, who was a friend of Bacall's. Turn to page 30 to see the treasures on display. What will be your 'take home' work of art?

Enjoy the issue."

Lucinda Bredin is Editor of Bonhams Magazine

  1. Page 5

    Centre stage

    One of the great actors of the 20th century, Lauren Bacall was also a discerning collector of art and antiques. Lucinda Bredin visits The Dakota, the star's home for 50 years, to find out more

    The Dakota on Central Park in New York is so stately that one feels the apartment building inhabits its residents rather than the other ...

  2. Page 9

    My favourite room
    Charles Saumarez Smith

    Charles Saumarez Smith was no advocate of Le Corbusier – until he visited a church designed by the Modernist master

    Much the most spectacular interior that I have been to recently is Le Corbusier's church at St Pierre in Firminy, south west of Lyon in central France, next to the mining town of St Étienne. At university in Cambridge I ...

  3. ALEXANDER CALDER (1898-1976) The Mountain, 1960

    Page 12

    Artistic peak

    Alexander Calder's playful mobiles may look like toys, but it is to the laboratory and not the nursery that they owe their inspiration, argues Jonathan Jones

    It is a strange and beautiful fate for an artist to be remembered as the creator of a children's toy. Perhaps 'toy' is the wrong word. Mobiles are part of the landscape ...

  4. Page 17

    Turing point

    The codebreaker was a man of few words. But now a hidden manuscript lends a new insight into his genius, says Cassandra Hatton; Andrew Hodges describes Turing's triumph and his tragedy

    Alan Turing is a legend and a mathematical genius. At the age of 24, he invented the universal computing machine, now known as a Turing Machine, forever changing ...

  5. Page 18

    Empire of the senses

    Among the magnificent art owned by the 18th-century Qianlong emperor, few possessions were more treasured than an album of landscapes painted by a great imperial master, says Frances Wood

    When he inscribed each leaf of a precious album of Chinese landscape paintings and marked them with his seals, the Qianlong emperor was demonstrating his appreciation of a great work of ...

  6. Page 22

    Motion pictures

    Dexter Brown is the world's foremost painter of motor sports. He explains to Matthew Wilcox what drives him – and how a charity exhibition to be held at Bonhams has kept him on track

    "The only thing I have never done is still life," says Dexter Brown, "If it doesn't move I don't paint it." It is this ...

  7. Page 28

    Captain marvel

    Diana Preston charts the life of William Dampier, a notable navigator, a naturalist – and a pirate

    When William Dampier died in his bed in London in early 1715, it was a peaceful end for a daring and celebrated explorer. Dampier was the first man to circumnavigate the world three times, an inspired naturalist, hydrographer and bestselling author. He was also ...

  8. Page 30

    Platform
    Going Dutch

    A little bit of New York has arrived in the Netherlands, thanks to an exchange between two small but beautiful art collections. Michael Prodger reports

    The Mauritshuis in the Hague and the Frick Collection in New York may be separated by the small matter of 3,600 miles, but in many other ways they are cut from the same cloth ...

  9. Thomas Jones Barker (British, 1815-1882) The battle of Waterloo

    Page 34

    'A damn close run thing'

    Jane Wellesley and Andrew Roberts battle over the Duke of Wellington and Napoleon Bonaparte – military geniuses who finally clashed at Waterloo 200 years ago

    In the early hours of Sunday, June 18th 1815, when my ancestor the Duke of Wellington donned his plain dark blue frock coat and white breeches in the village inn at Waterloo, he may well have ...

  10. Page 37

    Travel
    Northern highlights

    Manchester is glowing with pride thanks to the renaissance of its vibrant cultural scene, says Maria Balshaw

    Mention Manchester, and people who don't know the city often envisage dour Victorian architecture and dank weather. Certainly that was the impression cast by the French-born, Manchester-based Impressionist Adolphe Valette, who found inspiration in its gloomy cityscapes and notorious rain. And by ...

  11. Page 51

    Eye of the tiger

    Tipu Sultan of Mysore was demonised by the British as a 'furious fanatic'. In fact, he was a connoisseur and an aesthete whose love of art extended even to his dazzling armoury says William Dalrymple

    It was time to take out Tipu Sultan of Mysore. Arch enemy of the East India Company, Britain's proxy rulers in India, the great ...

  12. Page 56

    Enlightened times

    Tibetan Buddhist monks produced exquisite paintings and sculptures in pursuit of enlightenment - with wealthy overlords as their patrons. Sam van Schaik traces their origins

    The vast empire of the first great ruler of Tibet, Songtsen Gampo, stretched from northern India and Nepal to the kingdoms of the Silk Road in central Asia. When the emperor married two foreign princesses, one ...

  13. ABRAHAM PALATNIK (b. 1928) Untitled (Prototype for Kinechromatic device), circa 1955

    Page 60

    Top spin

    Will Brown talks to Dane Jensen about a ping pong tournament to be held in Los Angeles in conjunction with Bonhams' new contemporary sale

    Q. Dane, can you tell me about the title you have chosen for your new sale at Bonhams Los Angeles?

    A. Someone once told me, "If you can't think of a title, you don't ...

  14. Page 67

    Wine
    California cult

    An Austrian winemaker has created a following for his unorthodox wines, says Doug Davidson

    While many wineries in California are often referred to as 'cult' producers, perhaps none better fits that description than the wines made by Manfred Krankl of Sine Qua Non in Ventura, California. For the past 20 years, Sine Qua Non has been producing small quantities of ...

  15. Page 68

    Inside Bonhams
    Fully booked

    Catherine Williamson, mastermind behind Bonhams blockbuster Entertainment Sales, talks to Lucinda Bredin

    The moment it happens, you are numb," says Catherine Williamson. The Head of Books and Manuscripts and Entertainment Memorabilia is talking about the sale of the piano from Casablanca that achieved $3.4m at Bonhams New York in November. It was a story that went around the world ...

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