4 February 2016

Year of the Monkey

The Chinese animal zodiac, or Shengxiao, is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal and its reputed attributes. Traditionally these zodiac animals were used to date the years.

This year it's the Year of the Monkey, the ninth animal in the cycle. 2016 is a Fire Monkey year. Both the sign and element of your birth year are said to affect your personality and destiny. The characteristics of a Fire Monkey are 'ambitious and adventurous, but irritable'.

Monkey years are believed to be an unlucky years for people of the Monkey sign. “Monkeys” (who take Chinese astrology seriously) are particularly careful about their health, love lives, career, and investments in Monkey years.

Regardless of the bad luck associated with this Chinese zodiac sign, we often see monkeys as being cute and highly intelligent animals and significant in their impact on our culture.

In honour of Year of the Monkey, we have put together a selection of items in the form of this adorable animal.
Japanese Hirdo porcelain monkey, offered by David Bowden.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil, wooden and crystal okinomo, 19th century, Japanese, offered by David Bowden

Japanese wood netsuke monkey, 19th century, offered by David Bowden.

18th Century bronze & cloisonné monkey God, Chinese. Offered by David Bowden.

Amber monkey sculpture, offered by Amber Fortuna

A selection of five 19th century figures from The Monkey Orchestra by Meissen, which was modelled in 1753 by Johann Joachim Kaendler. He created 21 pieces for the Orchestra in all. Offered by Serhat Ahmet Antiques.

28 January 2016

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is an important festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. 2016 is the 4713th Chinese Year and the year of the Monkey; the first day falls on February 4th. People born within the Year of the Monkey are defined as quick-witted, curious, innovative and mischievous, however it's also believed to be one of the most unlucky years within the Chinese calendar.

In London the Chinese New Year party is the biggest outside of Asia and is set to start on February 14th. Thousands of people are expected to mark the occasion in London's Chinatown, where a parade historically takes place.

According to legend, the start of the Chinese New Year started with a legendary beast known as the Nian who would eat villagers. In order to safeguard themselves, the villagers would place food in front of their doors at the start of each year. One day, a villager set out to get revenge on the Nian. A god visited him and told him to place red paper on his house and to position firecrackers, which led to villagers understanding that the Nian was frightened of the colour red.

Once the New Year was approaching, the villagers would wear red garments and suspend red lanterns, and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People additionally used firecrackers to scare off the Nian. From then on, Nian never came to the village again.

To ring in the Chinese New Year we have selected some superb Chinese pieces from our dealers at Grays.

Chinese mini clobbered teapot, avaliable from Anita Gray

19th century Chinese amber carving of man, available from Linda Wheatley

18th century Chinese Famille Rose sparrow beak porcelain jug, available from Anita Gray
Pair of 17th century Chinese blanc de chine Dogs of Fo, available from Guest and Gray

17th century Chinese wucai baluster vase and cover, available from Guest and Gray

21 January 2016

The Winter Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair 2016

19 – 24 January, Battersea Park, London

The Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair is a thrice-yearly event that specialises in unusual English and European antiques, original twentieth-century designs and artworks from past to present. The fair is well known as an excellent source of painted furniture, Gustavian and Swedish design, lighting, accessories and named-design furniture. Situated by the river in the lovely Battersea Park, the fair has been a fixed part of London's design calendar for over 30 years, hosting over 140 exhibitors.

The Winter Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair 2016
This winter the fair has a special focus highlighting perhaps one of our most common and more practical pieces of furniture: the chair. "Take A Seat: Three Hundred Years of Chair Design" will demonstrate the evolution of chair styles through out history, displaying pieces from the 1700s and 1800s to Arts and Crafts, Modernist and architect-designed pieces. It will include examples such as high-back Louis XIII dining chairs to Georgian Chippendales, mid-century modern to post-modern and über-industrial designs.

For the occasion we have selected some of our own decorative antiques and textiles at Grays:

Edwardian jet, miniature model chair with engraving of Whitby Abbey, made as an early 20th century souvenir.
Offered by Allison Massey
Silver top crystal decanter, London 1890. Offered by AMS Antiques

Early 17th century tapestry, woven in coloured wools and silks. Probably English and was once part of the Mayorcas Collection. Offered by Robin Haydock
Art Nouveau stag vase. Offered by Mousa Antiques

A japanese style, Art Nouveau marquetry inlaid occasional table by Emile Gallé. The marquetry is made of a combination of rosewood, walnut and fruitwoods, France circa 1910. Offered by Gorringe Antiques

14 January 2016

Lumiere London

Lumiere London, 14 to 17 January, is a free light festival in 30 locations across some of the capital's most iconic areas, Mayfair being one of them. Over four evenings, many of the capital's streets will be illuminated with dazzling night delights. Expect large-scale video-mapped projections, interactive pieces and jaw-dropping installations. Here are a few examples:

Aquarium, Benedetto Bufalino & Benoit Deseille
Nathaniel Rackowe, Platonic Spin
Neon Dogs, Deepa Mann Kler
OCUBO Circus of Light

In celebration of this event, we picked a few light related items from Grays that will brighten up dreary evenings.

Miniature jet candle holder, Victorian, offered by Allison Massey

Continental wall candle holder, offered by Robin Haydock
18th Century filigree candlestick, offered by Joseph Cohen

Carltonware Aladdin lighter, Art Deco, offered by David
19th century, copper/brass Original hand crafted Hindu God statue oil deepak lamp, offered by Matthew Wood

7 January 2016

The Mayfair Antiques & Fine Art Fair

The Mayfair Antiques & Fine Art Fair will feature over forty specialist exhibitors, drawn primarily from The British Antique Dealers' Association and LAPADA The Association of Art & Antiques Dealers. The aim is to present a varied selection of high quality art and antiques, giving visitors the opportunity to browse and acquire the finest furniture, sculpture, silver, oil paintings and watercolours, jewellery, ceramics, glass, clocks, oriental carpets, books, 20th century design pieces and many other decorative and rare objects spanning the centuries.

Grays dealers Anthea AG Antiques Ltd and Wimpole Antiques are both taking part. Here is a selection of our favourite pieces from both Anthea Gesua and Wimpole Antiques.

A burma ruby, turquoise and diamond ring set in 18carat gold. From Anthea A G Antiques Ltd.

Coral and emerald pendant, from Anthea A G Antiques Ltd.

Platinum and gold Antique Fox Cufflinks from Wimpole Antiques.

Emerald & diamond 1960s cluster ring, from Wimpole Antiques

Baby Toucan brooch signed Tiffany with its Tiffany box. From Anthea AG Antiques Ltd.

23 December 2015

Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture

Running until 3 April 2016, Tate Modern is hosting a retrospective by the American sculptor Alexander Calder. Calder was a radical figure who pioneered kinetic sculpture, bringing movement to static objects, he was hailed the originator of the mobile, a sort of moving sculpture created with delicately balanced or suspended shapes that move in response to the touch or air currents.

Calder’s monumental stationary sculptures are known as stabiles. He additionally made wire figures that are like drawings created in space, and notably a miniature circus work that was performed by the creator. The artists aerial sculptures are unquestionably beautiful: fine balanced arrangements of forms like waving leaves, subatomic particles or celestial bodies, suspended from the lightest possible cat’s cradle of wire.

This exhibition continues Tate Modern’s acclaimed reassessments of key figures in Modernism. Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture reveals how motion, performance and theatricality underpinned his practice, showcasing his collaborative projects within the fields of film, theatre, music and dance.

Below we have selected a few of our favourite pieces inspired by the Calder show.

Lea Stein brooch, avaliable from Gillian Horsup

Vintage aqua blue thermoset necklace by Trifari, avaliabe from Arabella Bianco

Pink glass Art Deco necklace & earrings, avaliable from Gillian Horsup

20th century beaded onyx necklace, available from Allison Massey
Red & white Art Deco necklace, available from Gillian Horsup

17 December 2015

Egypt: Faith after the Pharaohs

The British Museum presents a major exhibition looking at an important transition in Egypt’s history never explored before in its entirety. Egypt: Faith after the Pharaohs,  29 October 2015 – 7 February 2016, explores 1,200 years of history, providing unparalleled insight into the lives of different religious communities. This exhibition of around 200 objects will show how Christian, Islamic and Jewish communities reinterpreted the pharaonic past of Egypt and interacted with one another. The transitions seen in this period have shaped the modern world we know today.

In keeping with the Egyptian feel here at Grays, we have chosen a few Egyptian revival and Egyptian inspired items...

Egyptian style earrings, offered by Linda Bee

Egyptian revival necklace, offered by Ting's Jewellery Box

Pharoah medallion, offered by Ting's Jewellery Box

Egyptian Revival watch fob – brass and enamel, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

1970s celluloid scarab brooch, offered by Gillian Horsup Vintage Jewellery

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