SINCE the untimely, but not in retrospect unfortunate, demise of the venerable Grosvenor House fair in 2009 there has been a sea change in the dynamics of the London summer fairs scene.
Masterpiece launched in 2010 with a breathtaking debut which in one staging made it the UK’s top such event.
It is the glitziest, most glamorous and entertaining fair of its kind but just before the third Masterpiece, to be held in what I am sure will be a stunning construction (marquee does not come near to describing it) in the South Grounds of Chelsea’s Royal Hospital, SW3, from June 28 to July 4 (with a preview on June 27), the organisers would do well to remember any fair is basically a marketplace.
Masterpiece is epic in scale and ambition, but many exhibitors have told me they feel the marketing has concentrated too much on fine dining, luxury and exhibitions rather than the fact it is a selling fair.
Wisely, in the publicity this year Masterpiece has made it clear it is about Art Antiques Design, which was not apparent before.
There are around 160 exhibitors, some 10 up on last year. But since 2011 there has been a substantial turnover of dealers with some opting for Master Frieze.
Others, like Sladmore, Tomasso Brothers and Rupert Wace (who takes to Masterpiece the 2nd-1st c. BC Greek portrait head we picture) are at both.
The exhibitor list is impressive and we are guaranteed a good show, one which broke the mould of international fairs and again will make a big splash on the London scene.
Everyone is in awe of what Masterpiece has achieved but for exhibitors to keep coming back perhaps there should be more emphasis on sales and less on spectacle.
Since three of the founder-directors are seasoned, high end dealers they know that better than anyone.