Issue 43, Summer 2015

Editor's Letter: Lucinda Bredin

"Bonhams is regarded as the auction house for connoisseurs. And while I was editing this issue, I thought 
about the way in which our many specialists share their knowledge with collectors – and, indeed, with any member of the public. To speak to our departments about any object that falls within Bonhams' 60 different collecting areas, all someone has to do is pick up the phone.

I was thinking about this inclusive and egalitarian approach because one of the threads that draws together the stories in this issue is the role of the connoisseur-collector as a promoter of new art. In order to commission works, they require knowledge which, in the 18th century, say, was confined to the very top layer of society. For instance, in 1763, Lancelot 'Capability' Brown was summoned by the 4th Duke of Marlborough to transform the parkland surrounding his stately home, Blenheim, into an artfully manipulated landscape. On page 40, Clive Aslet writes about a sketch on offer in Bonhams Old Master Paintings Sale that reveals Brown's ambitions for tinkering with the landscape – he wanted to put a mock-Gothic wall around Sir John Vanbrugh's vast palace.

Alas, Brown was denied free rein and the wall never made it off the drawing board. However, in this issue there are stories about artists who were allowed to fulfil their ambitions. The master designer, É-J Ruhlmann, for example, gave his imagination full flight in decorating Yardley's salon in Paris: eight pieces of the furniture that adorned the parfumerie are on offer in Bonhams Decorative Arts Sale in New York. On page 22, I interview Yoyo Maeght about her grandfather, Aimé, who nurtured artists such as Miró, Chagall, Giacometti and Braque, and commissioned works from them for his stupendous Fondation Maeght in St Paul de Vence. Then there's Charles Rennie Mackintosh's music cabinet, commissioned by a Miss Pickering, on offer in London's Decorative Arts Sale.

None of these wonderful works would have existed without the impetus of a commission from the patron – who, in turn, needed to have immersed themselves in the cultural language of the day. Which is why our specialists – all in the forefront of their respective fields – take their role so seriously as educators, helpers, sounding boards and above all, connoisseurs. If you want to discuss a work of art, just pick up the phone. They will be happy to help.
Enjoy the issue."

Lucinda Bredin is Editor of Bonhams Magazine

  1. Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson (British, 1889-1946) Mule Team 63.5 x 76.2 cm. (25 x 30 in.) (Painted between September 1917 and March 1918)

    Page 2

    War horse

    British artists sent to the Front during the First World War captured its brutal horrors like nothing else, but no one more so than C.R.W. Nevinson, argues Jeremy Paxman

    When Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson died in October 1946, the New York Times reported the death of "a genius, playboy, and war hero". The Hampstead News contained its excitement ...

  2. Page 6

    Base camp

    A new cache of letters from the mountaineer George Mallory to Lytton Strachey has just been discovered. They reveal an adventurer who was eager to explore not just Mount Everest, but also his own sexuality, says Robert Macfarlane

    The story of George Mallory seems at first a dark fairy-tale. Three times in four years he was drawn to attempt the ...

  3. Page 10

    From the ground up

    Piero Antinori's space age winery represents a new high for Chianti. But, as he tells Matthew Wilcox, things haven't always been smooth sailing

    For a man who has borne the burden of being the public face of Italian wine for the past 50 years, the impeccably dressed Marchese Antinori is remarkably unlined for his 76 years. Of late ...

  4. Anish Kapoor (born 1954) Untitled 2012

    Page 12

    Here's looking at you

    Anish Kapoor's monumental mirrored sculptures compel us to examine ourselves as well as the space we inhabit, says Francesca Gavin

    The act of looking is omnipresent in modern times. Contemporary eyes are glued to screens, phones and transient moving images. Yet in Anish Kapoor's work, the act of looking is transformed beyond the fleeting into something unique. His ...

  5. Page 14

    My favourite room
    Bill Wyman

    For Bill Wyman, La Colombe d'Or in St Paul de Vence is a place of memorable encounters – not least with the art on its walls

    I was introduced to La Colombe d'Or by my landlord when I first went to St Paul de Vence in 1974. I have a house there and have known the Roux family, who ...

  6. Lancelot (Capability) Brown (Northumberland 1716-1783) A view north-east across the lake from Blenheim Palace towards the town of Woodstock, showing the proposal for a Gothicised perimeter wall

    Page 20

    He made the earth move

    'Capability' Brown put the British art of landscaping on the map. And there is nowhere better than Blenheim Palace to appreciate
    his vision. Clive Aslet surveys the scene

    It has been said that the landscape park is Britain's greatest contribution to the visual culture of Europe, and nobody was more associated with this achievement than Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Born ...

  7. Creature from the Black Lagoon

    Page 26

    Coming soon

    Some of the most memorable scenes in the movies are not in the films themselves, but on the posters designed to promote them. Matthew Sweet picks some monster hits

    Hull, 1975. The Land that Time Forgot. Instead of making up your own jokes, I want you to imagine standing outside the ABC cinema on the corner of Ferensway and Collier ...

  8. Page 32

    The house that Vanderbilt

    The Whitney Museum has always been open to the latest ideas in contemporary art. Now its spectacular new building is ready to welcome the next generation. Sarah Murray takes a tour

    The Whitney Museum of American Art has come home. After almost half a century on Manhattan's Upper East Side, it has moved downtown to just a few blocks ...

  9. An Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann macassar ebony and silvered bronze table Created for the Viville-Yardley Showroom, 24 avenue de l'Opéra, Paris, circa 1926

    Page 39

    Beauty spot

    When English cosmetics house Yardley needed a makeover, it turned to Paris and the master of French Art Deco. Jared Goss gets the gloss

    The world has looked to France in matters of taste ever since Louis XIV consolidated his court in the gilded cage that was Versailles. The courtiers of the Ancien Régime had little to do beyond competing ...

  10. Page 40

    A family affair

    Aimé Maeght invented the contemporary gallery. His grand-daughter, Yoyo, describes to Lucinda Bredin the surreal experience of growing up surrounded by great artists

    To give you a taste of Yoyo Maeght's internecine memoir about her family, let's take a deep breath and start at the very beginning. Her book opens with a description of how she was abandoned ...

  11. An important pair of George III carved mahogany open armchairs attributed to William and John Gordon  (2)

    Page 48

    England expects

    Traditional British interiors have a bright future in the hands of stylish designers who marry the old with the new, says Lisa Freedman

    When Britannia ruled the waves – and considerably after – the English were confident about their own taste, a taste admired the world over. Its distinguishing elements included fine wooden furniture with a gleaming patina of beeswax, elegantly lined ...

  12. Page 50

    Sforza Italia

    Milan will be buzzing this summer as Expo 15 and new openings jostle for attention with Renaissance treasures, says Anthony Majanlahti

    Leonardo da Vinci may be the Florentine master, but he is the man of the moment in Milan. It's here that he spent his most productive years, at the court of Duke Ludovico Sforza, 'il Moro' or the ...

  13. Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) 'The Pickering Music Cabinet' An Important Lost Work, commissioned in 1898

    Page 62

    The line of beauty

    The work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh was dismissed by later generations. Wrong, says Gavin Stamp, the designer was a genius

    Charles Rennie Mackintosh is an almost mythical figure, too often seen as a lone misunderstood genius, a sort of Glaswegian Van Gogh. It is a misleading interpretation, encouraged by his native Glasgow, which for many years turned its back on ...

  14. Page 80

    Inside Bonhams
    One to watch

    There's no time like the present for our new head of department. Ruth Fletcher meets Jonathan Darracott

    Bonhams' newly appointed Head of Watches, Jonathan Darracott, has been in on the ground floor of some of the most prestigious and interesting sales of recent years. One source of particular pride for him was the sale of the 'Graves' watch in ...

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