The Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair is back!

David Levenson NT

The rescheduled annual Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair is due to return to the grounds of the National Trust’s Petworth House this autumn.  Organised by The Antiques Dealers Fair Limited for the sixth successive year, this much loved fair opens in The Marquee, Petworth Park, Petworth, West Sussex GU28 0QY from Friday 11th to Sunday 13th September 2020 and is now firmly established as part of Petworth’s social diary.  Visitors are advised to check online at www.petworthparkfair.com for latest updates before travelling.

Fair organiser, Ingrid Nilson said, “We are adhering to the government’s guidelines for the safety of all. There are some changes to the usual layout, which won’t detract from viewing the magnificent selection of fine art and antiques.  There will be a track and trace system in place; allowances for social distancing; the wearing of face coverings will be mandatory inside the marquee and there will be hand sanitisers for everyone’s use.  Some queuing will be inevitable and a one-way system may operate within the fair at busier times. The catering has been brought outside to the front of the marquee, so visitors can relax, if they wish, whilst awaiting their turn to enter the marquee.”

None of the alterations will detract from the fair retaining its reputation for being an exciting day out for interior design enthusiasts, collectors and visitors who enjoy the finer things in life.   Visitors will be greeted by an enthusiastic band of antique dealers glad to be back interacting with the public and showing an array of enticing antiques and fine art, all for sale from a few hundred pounds upwards.

The fair features some 50 specialist exhibitors selling fine period furniture, clocks, jewellery, silver, oil and watercolour paintings, sculpture, glass, lighting, ceramics, 20th century design objects, vintage watches, historical medals, garden statuary and many other decorative works of art.  New faces include Julian Eade Antiques, Burlington, Kenneth Neame Limited, Michael St. John, Shapero Gallery, Timothy Millett Limited, Ellis Fine Art and Tom Rooth Fine Art.

Some highlights from this year’s new exhibitors include an interesting range of Victorian paintings, with a couple of local scenes by Edward Wilkins Waite RBA (1854-1924): Haymaking in Sussex, £16,000 and Cornfields at Fittleworth, £12,000 from BurlingtonShapero Gallery has a handsome portrait of former banker and Member of Parliament Edward Charles Grenfell, 1st Baron St Just by royal portraitist Sir Oswald Birley MC RA (1880-1952), £37,000.  Tom Rooth Fine Art has cleverly sourced the work of local artist Sue Viner, who lives outside Chichester.  She creates the most exquisite botanical studies of flowers, vegetables, fruit, shells and feathers brimming with subtle textures and vivid colours using materials sourced from the earth.  A fascinating area of collectibles is historical medals, enabling people to follow history through objects or a theme that ties in with their particular interest.   Timothy Millett Limited is probably the leading specialist in this area and the stand is a treasure trove of yesteryear.   Examples include a William Gladstone caricature pipe, c.1880, £385 and an enamel box, c.1783 of Wooburn Farm, Addlestone, Surrey, which was the seat of Lord Petre, £650.

An observation is that having spent so much time in their homes during lockdown, the buying public has decided to feather their nests. Moreover, with interest rates flatlining at the bank and limited returns on deposited money, people are taking a “why the hell not” approach to purchasing antiques and fine art, which they can enjoy. Similarly, having been restricted to online selling for many months, the dealers are keen to be back in business and are going to great lengths to dress their stands with a selection of tempting and impressive stock from a wide range of eras.

Highlights of every discipline are to be found around the fair including a great choice in paintings from contemporary work at Lucy B Campbell Gallery and Tom Rooth Fine Art, mid-20th century artists from Freya Mitton and Victorian artists from Cambridge Fine Art amongst others.   In keeping with the beginning of the new season, Freya Mitton has a charming painting of an ‘Autumn Day’ by Fred Yates (1922-2008), £5,800.  Returning Petworth exhibitors include art dealers Ottocento and Rountree Tryon Galleries, with further stock in the galleries a short distance away in the market town itself.  First time Petworth based exhibitor Chequers Antiques is well known for its stock of silver, glassware, furniture, china and paintings.

That perfect piece of furniture may well be found at the fair from local Petworth dealer Augustus Brandt or from further afield comes William Cook, Walton House Antiques, Millington Adams and Mark Buckley Antiques, all specialising in town, country, decorative and painted furniture as well as sculpture, ceramics and glass.  Millington Adams has a rare and unusual George I walnut bachelor chest, c.1720, £25,900.  Bachelor chests were conceived in the late 17th century as a small piece of furniture which could double as a writing desk and fit neatly into the type of living accommodation that many young men had when moving to the city and just beginning a career.  Other furniture to be found with William Cook Antiques includes a pair of George II style carved wood and gilt console tables with marble tops, c.1920, £12,000 and an early 19th century French guéridon table with an unusual and original marble top and Cuban mahogany base, c.1820, £3,950. Another Sussex specialist, Vagabond, is showing outdoor sculptures and items inspired by the English gardens of the 18th and 19th centuries.  One of the country’s premier specialist carriers used to working with antiques and fine art of immense financial or sentimental value, Simon Hall Limited, is on hand to safely package and deliver larger purchases.

The fair hosts an eclectic mix of dealers offering a wide selection of some of the best decorative arts.  Stand-out pieces include a very rare pair of 1940’s Mouseman bookends with squirrels holding an acorn from Ptarmigan Antiques, a miniature Spode teapot and cover, c.1820, from Jupiter Antiques, or a French lyre mantel clock, c.1900, £2,850 from Richard Price, the well-known clock expert from BBC Antiques Roadshow.  To celebrate an anniversary or as a gift or just to add a bit of sparkle, there is an excellent mixture of jewellery dealers showing antique and modern pieces.

As the Goodwood Revival is no longer taking place on the same dates nearby, the fair organisers are encouraging visitors to come along in their vintage cars, dressed for the occasion, on the Sunday, the final day of the fair, if they wish.  Obviously, this will be weather permitting for the open top vehicles!

There is ample free parking for antiques fair visitors just outside the marquee and they can enjoy the fresh air and Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown designed 700 acre deer park.  Petworth House and the gardens are open to visitors by pre-booking online only. For further details, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth

The fair raises funds for the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust and is supported by the National Trust, Brilliant Gin, Hennings Wine, Anderson Rowntree Solicitors, First Class Holidays, Petworth Antiques And Decorative Arts association, Petworth Marquees and Petworth Business Association.

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