A&J Speelman are now located in Kensington Square, having had a gallery in Mayfair since 1976. The family antiques business stretches back three generations to 19th century Holland. The Speelman Brothers, Grandfather and Great Uncle of Jules Speelman, extended into England around the turn of the century, documented by an invoice in the gallery's possession dated 1905, issued from their then premises at 180 Wardour St, Oxford St, London W1. The gallery dealt generally in antiques, from European ceramics, tapestries and furniture to Chinese porcelain and works of art. Jules Speelman's father Alfred followed in their footsteps, and throughout a long lifetime of dealing eventually established a gallery in Kensington Church Street where he was joined by his son in 1964, at which point a gradual focus towards Asia took place.
The gallery now specialises in Asian antiques, with a particular emphasis on sculpture and works of art from the past 2000 years. The scope is eclectic and diverse, with a concentration on rarity and quality. The collections are particularly strong in Chinese works of art, embrace scholars-taste items in all materials, as well as Chinese decorative arts covering cloisonné and Canton enamels, lacquer, ivories, soap stones, hard stones, carvings in wood, bamboo, porcelain, pottery and Chinese export ceramics and works of art.
A speciality of the firm is figurative sculpture, from the terracotta tomb figurines of the Han and Tang dynasties of the first millennia AD, to bronzes depicting figures from the Buddhist and Taoist pantheon, both gilt and ungilt, in stone, wood and stucco, of small collectible size to the large and important. Himalayan bronzes from Tibet and Nepal are particularly well represented in this section.
The great glory and primary artistic legacy to world art from Indian and South East Asian is their sculptural tradition in stone and bronze. The gallery carries an important representative group in these areas primarily from the Pala and Chola dynasties of India, and Pre Khmer and Khmer works from Cambodia, with further examples covering Central India, Kashmir and Thailand.
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An ungilt seated Luohan
An ungilt seated Luohan
Yuan dynasty, 14th century, China
Height: 13.5 cm, 5.3 inches
Seated on the ground wearing loose robes in a form of lila asana, sitting at ease, with the left knee pointing upwards and the left hand loosely hanging over the knee. The right leg is bent but lying flat on the ground, the other hand and arm horizontal supporting the torso. The figure looks to his right, the distinctive bald oval head with pendant ears and a smiling expression upon the lips, beard stubble and eyebrows finely incised into the richly patinated bronze.