Issue 28, Autumn 2011

Editor's letter

Bonhams has been in existence since 1793, but this is the first time that the headquarters in New Bond Street is going to be rebuilt – externally as well as internally. The plans for the building, which is being remodeled by Alex Lifschutz from Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, are on page 17 where the architect talks to Emma Crichton-Miller about how the building will mark a new chapter in the history of Bonhams.

Another major advance is the creation of a new department for Contemporary Art, with Anthony McNerney at its head. The first sale in October includes paintings by Glenn Brown – Martin Gayford writes about our cover work, Little Death – Alighiero Boetti and Martial Raysse. And to celebrate the season in which the art world descends on London for the Frieze Art Fair, I interviewed collector Anita Zabludowicz. Anita, who has a space in Kentish Town that shows part of her collection, has a new project. This time, it is on an island off the coast of Finland.

In the sixties, another island was transformed in an even more audacious way. This was when Lord Glenconner bought Mustique, a barren piece of land in the Caribbean that had its fair share of mosquitoes, and developed it into a hedonistic playground for the international elite. Lord Glenconner then moved on to St Lucia where he created his own paradise. He died last year and in an exceptional sale, Bonhams is offering the contents of his estate including furniture from his beloved Great House, photograph albums by Robert Mapplethorpe, and even his coronet. Nicholas Courtney, Lord Glenconner's biographer, evokes the extraordinary alternative court that grew up and which drew the titled, the monied, the famous – and infamous – from all around the world. It's a fascinating story.

Lucinda Bredin

  1. Page 17

    Inside Bonhams: Grand designs

    This is a piece of architecture to catalyze the way that Bonhams presents itself to the world," says Alex Lifschutz. As senior director of award-winning architectural practice, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands (LDS), Lifschutz has the task of creating a new £30m international headquarters for Bonhams in London. This ambitious project involves nothing less than a full reconstruction of its New Bond ...

  2. Page 20

    When in Rome

    Richard Burton said of his wife, the great screen actress Elizabeth Taylor: "The only Italian word she knows is Bulgari." And she was not alone. For the film stars who arrived in Rome in the fifties and sixties, shopping at Bulgari, the fashionable jeweler of the era, was on the itinerary in the same way as a visit to St ...

  3. Page 24

    One piece at a time

    Books are durable things. Most will look better than their owners after 50 years. But some varieties of book are fragile and, after a short life, they disappear from the scene. One such variety is 'books in serial'.

    Selling books over a period of time in parts, or 'fascicles', is a practice as old as the printed codex itself. It ...

  4. Page 28

    A rum idea

    There is a well-known maxim on Wall Street: "Once is a trend, twice a tradition, and three times a commandment." Lord Glenconner took this to heart when he marked three milestone birthdays with lavish parties, all of which were held in his beloved West Indies.

    The trend was set in 1976 with a weekof celebrations for his 50th birthday on ...

  5. Page 34

    Woman with a past

    You could say that art history is a game of visual Chinese whispers, in which images are constantly repeated but the meaning constantly shifts. Takethe following example: in 1973, Frank Auerbach painted a portrait he called Head of J.Y.M. It was of Juliet Yardley Mills, who was the painter's main model from the early sixties. Although Head ...

  6. Page 38

    "Among the savages"

    One of the great surprises of the Raj was that it produced so little truly great literature. While Russia's colonial history in Central Asia produced some of that country's finest fiction, including Tolstoy's Cossacks and his greatest short story, Hajji Murat, India was never central to British literature during the period when it was most important to ...

  7. Page 44

    Platform: Artist's retreat

    Sarvisalo is a small island off the east coast of Finland. It would be pushing it to say it was untouched wilderness, but as one has to fly to Helsinki and then drive for 90 minutes, it certainly falls into the category of remote. However, despite – or perhaps because of – its unpromising location, it is set to become another spot ...

  8. Page 48

    Best wishes

    Duncan may have been christened, but Vanessa never was," says the writer, Henrietta Garnett, of her grandparents, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell. "But they loved Christmas. It was a good excuse for festivity and fun. Fun was important to them." The statement is a salutary reminder that, for all its celebrated high-mindedness, the Bloomsbury Group had a fi ne sense ...

  9. Page 52

    Marking time

    Alighiero Boetti employed an eclectic array of materials and processes to make his protean work. It included drawing, embroidery, photography and mail art, while his sculptural works were made of materials such as wood, cement, asbestos blocks, corrugated cardboard and cloth. His use of such mundane materials was one of the factors that linked his name to Arte Povera – a ...

  10. Page 56

    Go west

    Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) was one of the leading lights in the revival of Japanese printmaking. But, at the time of his birth, the trade had never been in worse shape. Traditional art forms were looked down upon, and prints, in particular, jarred with the dawning of a new era of public morality. This was the result of the wholesale adoption ...

  11. Page 59

    Wine: Back to the roots

    In 1976, Steven Spurrier, a British wine merchant in Paris, arranged a blind tasting between the best wines that California could offer against a selection of first-rate French wines. To the surprise of everyone – except the Americans – the Californian bottles won what is now called 'The Judgment of Paris'.

    Suddenly, Californian wines could not be regarded as second-rate imitations of ...

  12. Page 72

    My favorite room: Alexander McCall Smith

    I started to visit Italy in my early twenties, and was smitten. I studied for a brief period in Siena, and it was there that I fell in love with the works of Italian Renaissance painters and with the subtle beauty of the countryside that inspired them. Over the years I have visited Italy on numerous occasions, and have always ...

Contacts
  1. Lucinda Bredin
    Author
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 7468 8394