The Great Exhibition
Masterpiece 2014. Preview breakfast, launch and supper. Ruinart on tap. There are so many celebrities this is the only day of the year you’ll get a table at Chiltern Firehouse. Everyone is beautiful, above average. Take the regal Susan Hampshire – Lady Kulukundis to you – monarch of the glen, queen of all she surveys. Average doesn’t exist at Masterpiece. It’s Lake Wobegon for real. And Lavender’s Blue have a great lakeside view.
Made in (Royal Hospital) Chelsea. We haven’t been here since, oh, the Chelsea Flower Show at least two weeks ago and before that, somewhere in the mist of time the Celeste Dell-Anna soirée. But first it was the warm up, Pimlico Road Summer Party. Jamb was jam full (sorry) of monolithic mantels and who knew Soane has the best roof terrace, make that twin roof terraces, on the stretch?
At Masterpiece, over 3,000 years of art history and culture are on offer from museum quality antiquity at Ariadne Galleries to museum café quality antipasti at The Mount Street Deli. The international who’s who of exhibitors from around the world in 80 cities includes Galerie Steinitz based on rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, a musket shot from Champs Élyées. “This is one of our special antique interiors,” says Guillaume Garcia-Moreau. It’s like twirling inside an exquisite jewellery box. “The panelling is Louis XVI although we’re not exactly sure where it originally came from. It was installed in Lucien Guitry’s hôtel particulier at the end of the 19th century. The stucco insets are original and the carved wood is of the highest quality.”
All that glitters is gold at Adrian Sassoon. “It’s all gold, even the lining is gold,” explains artist-goldsmith goldsmith-artist Giovanni Corvaja about his Golden Fleece. “Technology has allowed myth to become reality.” That plus 2,500 hours’ labour and oodles of talent. This hat is made from five million gold threads, each one a fifth the radius of a human hair. “The very ancient mythology of the Golden Fleece, the idea of making fabric from gold, fascinated me. It’s the stuff of kings. The gold looks like fur but touch it. It’s cold and quite heavy.” The Golden Fleece is priced £350,000. More golden ratio than gold is Palladio’s I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura for sale for £60,000 by Peter Harrington. As well as studies of Roman temples, it includes Palladio’s retrospective of his own designs. A one man Taschen show. “The four books date from 1570,” says Sammy Jay, “although their provenance is enigmatic. The binding is late 18th century.”
Luxed out, we leave for another year. We catch glimpses of primary colour and primal lack of colour in the verdant setting as our golf buggy (it’s the chauffeur’s day off) whizzes up the driveway. Ranelagh Gardens in the hospital grounds has been turned into a sculpture park to celebrate Philip King’s 80th. Here’s to #MPL2015.