20th January, 2015 Amazing London in Winter
Monday morning in a sunny, bright, happy London. I feel right, I feel great and the weather outside this coldish morning makes me happier, injects me with energy that I struggle to find these days. Dressed like an Eskimo, hat, scarf, overcoat and layers like an onion I am walking briskly to the tube. Oh, sorry for Londoners it’s the tube/underground for many others the subway, the metro, the train.
Happy and refreshed by crispy cold, but still mild for winter, I set a quick pace to exercise the heart, the heart that lately refuses to obey the mind and the desire to accomplish a million and one things at the twilight of my life. Suburban London streets are uniquely quaint, unbelievably quiet and I enjoy the five minutes walk to the tube station.
Free Pass at work at the station and in a couple of minutes I am on the train. Why do I see everything dressed in beautiful colours, everything so beautiful? Definitely the weather. Tomorrow it might be moody, rainy, windy and freezing cold and the amazing feelings of today will be a distant memory and dream. Yes, English weather is not just a Literary Mechanism!
New carriage and I wonder if the train has already run for four hours as it is 10:30am. Clean and nearly empty apart from two young secondary school girls, wondering whether truants, always a teacher aren’t I, and a gentleman deep in thought and looking in the vacuum of the tunnels of the London underground system. Fast and noisy the train is stopping and starting station after station and soon I find myself in the centre of London at Tottenham Court Road, on the tip of Oxford Street, the main shopping street of London.
Whoops, lost. What is this? New layout of the station, new everything and woouuu!. The new station is really something different. Is that what increases in fairs on the underground deliver? Great, keep it up!! Not all stations have been transformed like that but, it takes time and billions of pounds. Well done London Underground and Mr Mayor of Loindon! I will vote for you again!
On Oxford Street and not that impressive on this side. Hop on a bus in a minute and quickly I am off at New Bond Street, where I have planned to see Bonhams show of 19th Century Art plus English paintings etc. Shops different, giant stores, great smells and booths on the pavement and voices, multiplicity of languages. Plenty of French speaking, some Greek, a lot of Turkish and so many more I can not recognise but I do see the people and I know they are from all over the globe, thronging in London to enjoy all it can offer and here, on Oxford Street and then Bond Street, the best in the world.
Turn left quickly to avoid the crowds, not that big really, and I am inside Bonhams. Is this a five star hotel or what? Bonhams have come up the ladder of posh auctions considerably and their New Bond headquarters is indeed posh and in some ways better that their rivals, Sothebys and Christies further down the road.
19th Century Art is not so desirable nowadays. The big bucks are in Contemporary art and Impressionist art but let me say this here; trends change and whoever has vision and knowledge invests in the best of a period and sits and wait for the turn. That is the wise rute for an investor, unless you have millions to waste in order to show off the new names of today that might be the forgotten ones of tomorrow!
Impressive 19th century art by many artists from all over Europe including Britain with a couple Dorothea Sharps taking the eye and impressing the viewers. I give them a special treatment too as I really like her impressionist style and subject matter. Two more paintings of Barbizon artists draw me to them because of their impressionist style and masterful execution.
Sharp painting below sold nearly 100,000 pounds on an estimate of 60-80,000
Camille Delpy and Henri Harpignies. Canvases worth a lot more than the 4-6000 estimates they carry. Can these artists ever become masters and more valuable? I know not but I do hope for art’s sake they do. I am surprised by the low estimates on many lots in the sale and that is for all artists from Europe. I do hope they sell better that these estimates. I feel at home in these rooms of Bonhams but, where are the viewers? Mind you, it’s early Monday morning and people are at work.
My steps lead me to New Bond Street, the street of streets, the street of auction houses, galleries and the biggest fashion houses in the world.
I will continue some time today or first thing tomorrow. This is taking me longer that I anticipated!
20th January 2015, 5:30pm
On Bond Street, New Bond Street. Posh people walk up and down. here are they from? Chinese, Japanese, French, English and whatever other Nationality? Grand shops left and right of the famous street. Shoes, clothes, watches, jewellery, art galleries, auction houses. You look left and you see Bally on the corner, famous for their shoes. You look right and Breitling with their famous watches invite you in. A yard further and Zagna and Fendi compete for your custom. I am on my way, unable to walk in any of these luxury shops.
However, Sothebys is just on the left and in I go in to escape the temptation of spending what I need to borrow in order to buy anything of these fantastic wares. Out of my reach and way beyond my fancy these days. Sothebys entrance cannot compare to Bonhams in any way. Poor in comparison but who cares. They have the name, the reputation and the business. Regardless, a window shop attracts higher class clients; this is the hope at Bonhams. I come out of Sothebys in minutes. Nothing to view, nothing on sale until February. Come out quickly and stop at Halcyon Galleries next door on either side of Bond Street.
The Miro in the window is magnificent. Impressive, dramatic and in the millions, which I dream of at times in my sleep. Even millions would not buy this Miro, you need tens of millions. Walk opposite to see who the abstract or contemporary paintings belong to. Chihuly? Who is this artist? Distinct in their conception but still incomprehensible Contemporary Art. Trust or not trust this art?
Two doors further down and I am in Richard Green Galleries, one the best Gallery establishments in UK for tens of years. I am let in to view and admire the exhibition of Ken Howard RA. I like his work and seeing so many of his new work in one place reveals the great artist, all art critics know and talk about. I find his City Views refreshing and wonderfully warm and inviting. The Nude paintings, large in their majority leave me unimpressed. Cold, too composed; I do not know what!! Many paintings have been sold but a lot more await for clients. Worth the money in my honest opinion. Happy, satisfied and digesting what I have seen, I walk out in the brilliant sunlight of London. Wouuu!! Still sunshine. Incredible!!
New Bond Street stops abruptly but no wait. Old Bond Streets welcomes me with Barberrys and Louis Vuitton to my left. Shops of fashion, shops of excellence to write for days about. Look, enjoy and proceed to pass through an array of fine jewellery shops. Dazzling display of wealth. No, run poor fellow, it is too much for you in one go and briskly walking I find myself on Picaddilly and in its maddening noise of incessant traffic! Rush and rush to find refuge in the underground on my way to Christies South Kensington, my final destination to see their 19th century sale and the Bouvards I have already referred to elsewhere on the site.
Reliable tube trains come and go every couple of minuets and before long and at about 1.30pm I am at Christies. Exhibitions of posters all over the place. One Walde oil painting pulls me closer. I cannot see how paintings of that sort sell for 200,000 pounds but they do plus a lot more. Walk around and direct myself further in the rooms of Christies. So much has changed here, so much better these rooms and the whole operation. Commissions of 20%, 25% and more have changed the fortunes for all auctioneers, They are all thriving. Yes, a thriving business! Poor me!!
All the way to the end of the auction rooms are hanging the paintings I came for. Impressive as soon as I enter is a Nude oil painting of an 1880s lady. Extremely large the Horace de Callais oil but nevertheless pretty and I believe worth much more than the 15,000 it is estimated to sell. I look left, right and enjoy a few paintings before I end up with the Bouvards which I describe in my daily news. I like them but not for me as too small and too common nowadays. Still very popular and I am sure they will sell. The one artist I believe we are to hear more about about is Jules R. Herve who is becoming more and more popular with his Views of Paris. Three pieces here which I love. Anyone will do for me!
On a positive note, I make my way to the tube and back home at about 2.30. What an enjoyable day in beautiful, fashionable London!!