Master Paintings Week (MPW), now in its fourth year and already a key event in London’s art calendar, takes place from 29 June to 6 July 2012. This collaboration between twenty-three leading dealers, including newcomers Haldane Fine Art, Noortman Master Paintings and Theo Johns Fine Art Ltd, and three international auction houses highlights the extraordinarily wide selection of European paintings dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries available in London. During Master Paintings Week special exhibitions and other events will be staged by the dealers, all a short walk from one another in the heart of London’s Mayfair and St James’s, while major auctions will be held at Bonhams on 4 July, Christie’s King Street on 3 and 4 July, Christie’s South Kensington on 6 July and at Sotheby’s on 4 and 5 July. The event underlines London as the destination for connoisseurs, curators and collectors of fine art.
Boldly venturing into the 21st century, the organisers have commissioned a free iPhone app. Downloaded by over 1,000 people in the first ten days, it has an interactive map/GPS that not only shows all the participating galleries and auction houses but also the hotels and restaurants in the area. In addition, the website, www.masterpaintingsweek.co.uk, is synchronised via DigitisedArt so that information is continually updated. Visitors to London from 6 June might also spot ten black cabs sporting the MPW logo and images whilst five rickshaws, similarly bedecked, will be in the area on Sunday 1 July and Monday 2 July to ferry collectors around, courtesy of MPW.
Among the many new discoveries that will be unveiled is a magnificent moonlit seascape by Claude-Joseph Vernet (1714-1789) at Colnaghi. It was executed in 1754 when the artist was at the height of his powers, shortly after his return to France after 19 years in Italy and a year after he had been received as a member of the Académie Royale de Peinture et Sculpture. It may have been commissioned by an Irish collector on the Grand Tour as the details tally with records in the artist’s order book. The two most similar Vernet works are in the Musée du Louvre, with close examples in the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, and at Wardour Castle in the UK.
Another recent discovery is Study of a Young Man in Profile by Sir Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641), a wonderfully fresh example of the artist’s work during his apprenticeship and collaboration with Rubens, c.1617, that will be featured by Fergus Hall Master Paintings. Painted rapidly with astonishing dexterity, Van Dyck has captured a powerful presence imbued with emotional intensity. The painting was formerly in the collection of the celebrated Rubens scholar, Ludwig Burchard. (Price £550,000)