Koopman rare art
If you have an interest in silver, be it idle curiosity or a hunger for owning the best, we at Koopman Rare Art make it our business to provide you with that opportunity. Silver is our passion.
We are situated at the entrance to the London Silver Vaults, located on Chancery Lane close to St Paul’s Cathedral. We deal in silver dating from as early as 1500 through to the modern day. Whether European, American or Asian, it matters not; what does matter is quality and design.
Certain names as in any field of art, spring to mind when you consider silver. Just as Rembrandt is to the Old Masters, great silversmiths such as Paul de Lamerie, Paul Storr, and Garrard were the innovators and master craftsmen in silver. Koopman Rare Art holds the largest selection of works by these pre-eminent silversmiths.
Over the years we have built up some of the most important private collections of silver. We have worked closely with museums, both here in England and internationally. For instance in 2014, The Victoria and Albert Museum acquired from us a Royal Christening gift of George II presented to his God daughter. Also worthy of note and enabled by the Mrs Patricia Hurst Bequest Fund, Leeds Museums and Galleries, Temple Newsam House, acquired from us a wonderful Elizabethan silver-gilt cup and cover made in London in 1578 by Afabel Partridge. It has an extremely interesting history and provenance, having been owned by the great collector J.P. Morgan and exhibited as early as 1862. Other museums we have worked with include The Metropolitan Museum in New York, The Mint Museum in North Carolina, The Fogg Museum in Massachusetts, The Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts Boston, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Portland Art Museum in Oregon, The St Louis Art Museum in Missouri, The South Australian Museum of Art in Adelaide, The Manchester Art Galleries and the National Army Museum in London.
Keen to share our love for silver, we have also hosted exciting loan exhibitions here at our gallery. In 2005 our Rundell Bridge and Rundell Exhibition in aid of the Princes’ Trust charity, included eight royal loans from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In 2010 The Classical Ideal Exhibition in aid of The Sir John Soane Museum was a rare opportunity to place the original architect's drawing alongside the silversmith's masterpiece. In October 2015 Art In Industry: The Silver of Paul Storr provided a great insight into Paul Storr's achievements and the book sponsored by ourselves aided the Victoria & Albert's acquisitions fund. These exhibitions provided a forum for collectors, curators and dealers alike to exchange ideas and compare knowledge, and were extremely well received.
This is not unusual for Lewis Smith, myself and the team here at Koopman Rare Art. We have been the pre-eminent dealers of the finest antique silver for nearly fifty years. Early on, my late great uncle Jacques Koopman recognised the great potential that lay in the beauty and workmanship of periods such as Regency. Sales of important collections such as the Earl of Harewood’s in 1965, Sir William Butler’s in 1968 and Mrs Faye Plohn’s in 1970, released stunning riches of Regency silver and silver-gilt onto the market, and it is Jacques Koopman who can be credited with inspiring an entire generation of silver collectors to appreciate the beauty of this sculptural silver.
Later in the 1980s and 90s we formed important collections such as that of Mahdi Al Tajir. We sourced great works of art through collections that were sold, for instance those of Mrs Ruxton Love in 1982 and President Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos in 1991. This enabled us to meet our firm’s demand for the finest silver produced by Rundell Bridge and Rundell and their contemporaries. Today Benjamin Smith and Paul Storr, who worked for this amazing retail establishment, remain among the most sought after names in the world of silver.
This tradition built up by Jacques and my late father Michael, is continued by my partner, Lewis Smith and I. We operate from our extensive premises in Chancery Lane, but the reach of our firm is global. With large displays, a major presence at annual antique fairs in London, Maastricht, Hong Kong and New York we regularly visit collectors in the Americas, Asia and Europe. Koopman Rare Art have been members of the British Antique Dealers Association for many years and in 2004 were awarded the British Antique and Collectables Award for Specialist Dealer.
Items as simple as a single tea pot, a decorative centrepiece or a dining room object can enhance your home. On our website you will find such items together with objects of vertu, such as items by Cartier or Faberge, magnificent gold boxes, Viennese enamels and micromosaics - little gems that would lift anyone's spirit. If you browse through our publications and collections you will see a great range of concepts and fashionable styles that were created by these masters. Indeed if you are looking to purchase, sell or further your knowledge in any of these specialist fields please feel free to contact us. However, there is nothing quite like handling and seeing these delights in person and we cordially invite you to visit our premises in Chancery Lane or one of our shows.
John Samuel Hunt
A Victorian silver 'Portland Vase', London 1846 The supremely elegant Portland Vase was “another icon of ancient art” which together with the Warwick Vase was copied by Rundell’s in silver-gilt. The form and decorative scheme of the Roman vessel were faithfully adhered to but the silver vessel is nevertheless a technical masterpiece and a wonderfully satisfying object with great subtleties in the textures and finish of the surfaces.
Despite its great beauty the form did not lend itself to adaptation to a number of purposes in the same way as the ubiquitous Warwick Vase. Only a few of the vases which were fitted as wine coolers were produced by the firm between 1820 and 1824. The upper section could be removed to allow a bottle to be placed in the bowl; the vase can be inverted without any water leaking out.
The figures around the sides of the vase are thought to depict the story of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (D. E. L. Haynes, The Portland Vase, 1975, pp. 16-20) although there have been many interpretations of the figures and the disc in the base probably depicts Paris.
The dark blue glass Portland Vase is now thought to be the upper section of a taller amphora-shaped vessel the bottom of which must have been broken off and the circular unrelated disc inserted at a later date. It is not known when the vase was first discovered but the first record of it was in the collections of Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte (1549-1627). It changed hands on a number of occasions until in about 1780 it was acquired by the antiquarian James Byres in Rome. He in turn sold it to Sir William Hamilton, British Ambassador to the Court of Naples, who was also to purchase the Warwick Vase, who brought it to London in 1783. He sold it in the following year for 1,800 guineas to the Dowager Duchess of Portland for her museum of natural and artificial curiosities. On her death in 1785 it was acquired at auction by William, 3rd Duke of Portland and in 1810 was deposited at the British Museum for safekeeping by 4th Duke of Portland. In 1845 it was smashed into over two hundred pieces by William Lloyd although it was successfully restored. It was finally acquired by the British Museum in 1945.
Artist Biography: John Hunt is recorded at Fishergate, Preston, Lancashire. No record of his apprenticeship or freedom.