Untitled_Panorama1The day that I walked in to Guinevere to find Dean’s dark and mysterious room of plaster breasts, legs, bums and tums, I was instantly mesmerised. The limbs are spread throughout the room, clutching banisters and breasts, kicking balls (metaphorically) and tiptoeing down stairs, they filled my face with a smile from ear to ear. The 60-piece plaster set from the workshop of renowned Parisian sculptor Max Le Verrier has been nestled amongst stunning Neo-Classical Mirrors, luxurious bone veneered Regency style daybeds and glistening gilded 8ft fluted Torcheres 53471from southern Spain, creating a feel of eclecticism but in a sophisticated and somehow controlled manner. With the rich aubergine coloured walls, the pale plaster is all the more eye catching, and when a knobbly knee protrudes from the wall you almost believe there is a Centurion behind it breaking free from the past.

As one of the leading pioneers of the Art Deco movement in the mid 1920’s, Max Le Verrier won a gold award for his work at the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art in Paris 1925. The predominantly Greco-Roman inspired casts were used by Max Le Verrier to create some of his most beautiful sculptures.

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 12.44.37When I first saw the limb covered walls, it reminded me of photographer Marc Lagrange’s sculptor workshop scenes in Tongeren, Belgium. The magnificent form in the centre blew me away, but then the clutter of moulds and mannequins on the wall meant you could look at it for hours and continue to find new amusements hidden in a dark corner. From the floor to the ceiling there is something beautiful everywhere you look, and ensuring no surface is left bare, whether that is the dust-covered floor or the old easel hanging from the banister, I found it quite inspiring.

Having always been fond of the more eclectic taste, this is something I would happily take home, creating drama in a sort of peacefully chaotic way.


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I saw an old lady standing at a bus stop the other day. She was wearing a shabby purple coat, the sort that old ladies wear, with a bright pea green sweater and deep pink trousers. I doubt she had very much money or that life had been very kind to her. She looked fabulous. Beautiful colour combinations can happen anywhere and when they do they are a gift for the brain. They stay lodged, stored in some recess, to be recalled years later when one reminisces about a time and a place, or used immediately next time you choose a bunch of flowers or place a cushion on a chair.

Unknown My mind is full of, among other things, a myriad of colour combinations. Things I’ve mixed together in my head and things I’ve seen, sometimes remembered exactly as they were and sometimes re-imagined as better versions of themselves.

I’ve been thinking about Italian Renaissance colours for a while, the type one sees in paintings. That particular red that might be pink, a green that is more green than green can be and of course, that gorgeous blue that seems to be made of cornflowers and lapis lazuli.

The National Gallery’s recently staged an exhibition “After Caravaggio”. The first time I attempted to see it was sold out, undeterred and having made the effort to haul myself into the centre of town on a Friday evening, I decided to have a look around the permanent collection anyway. One forgets how lucky we are to have such wonderful places on our doorstep for free, we should all make more of an effort to visit them and not just queue for the blockbuster exhibitions. I focused on the High Renaissance Galleries. All the colours I wanted to see were there. I knew them already, of course, they were in my head and I could visualise them, but it was wonderful to see them in front of me, together.

unnamed-1 The blue, the pink red and the green are all in Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne (dated 1520-23, top left image), a painting that positively dazzles. Bronzino’s monumental ‘Allegory with Venus and Cupid’ (dated 1540-46 Right Image) has them too. As a child I loved Bronzino’s paintings. I was given a book and found them mesmerising. I was a quiet, bookish sort of boy, alone in my own little world.The National Gallery has his ‘Portrait of a Young Man’ (dated 1550-55), an unidentified sitter portrayed in front of a pinkish red curtain; this was close to the shade I’d been thinking of. By way of a slight detour, but continuing on the drapery theme, Hans Holbein the Younger’ ‘The Ambassadors’ (1533, Image Below) has the most beautiful green curtain as a backdrop, of a shade so unique that it is impossible to accurately describe.1039px-Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_The_Ambassadors_-_Google_Art_Project The gentleman on the left of the painting, Jean de Dinteville, French ambassador to England, is resplendent in silk of pinkish red and against the green the effect is brilliant.

So, I had my colours, I had my combination, now, what to do with them?

I wanted to create window displays for Guinevere using this Renaissance palette, but re-interpreted in a fresh modern way. The last thing I wanted was some sort of historical pastiche, all trompe l’oeil painted draperies and bunches of grapes with bits of marble. We may be an antique shop but, perversely;Guinevere Mar 17_094 progress LAYERED FINAL I always want us to look new.Could the paint take on a life of it’s own? Initially applied by the artist in a careful, considered manner and then left free, unconstrained by rules to run and drip and splash and pool on the floor? That would be a different and interesting thing to do with this bunch of shades that was living in my head.

I had paint especially mixed, water based gloss that behaved just as I hoped, first neat in broad bands of vertical stripes, then slipping and sliding as we left it to drip.

The colours, deliberately splashed and splattered onto the floor, took on a new energy and proved to be the perfect backdrop to bold red Chinoiserie furniture, (53391) a French Empire daybed with a green chartreuse silk seat, (52654) a Cheval mirror shaped like an artist’s palette (50917), coloured glass and Italian modernist cabinets of steel and brass (53268). A strong backdrop is a great way to display strong pieces.

Guinevere Mar 17_019 FINAL I don’t know whether other people see the colours of the Italian Renaissance metamorphosing into C21st century randomness when they look at the windows. Maybe they just think “oh, that’s fun and jolly for spring”. That’s the wonderful thing about colour; it’s filtered through the individual’s eyes and imagination and means something different to everyone. Never let anyone ever tell you there are rules, it’s as subjective as taste. Look for colour wherever you are and in all that you see. Load it to your visual bank or put it away somewhere in your memory. Remember the shades you like and the mixtures that entrance. Imagine the possibilities. Then, when life is quiet or grey recall, think of it, visualise it and let it take you to another time or place.

Dean Robinson

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Guinevere Mar 17_044 FINALLondon Design Week is always something to look forward to with the new collections being launched heralding the start of Spring and longer days (finally). It’s easy to forget how lucky we are in London to have such a fantastic design district with Chelsea Harbour and Chelsea Design Quarter, a London home so many International brands mixed in with more eclectic standalone shops.

C6eLoO_XMAA9cjNWe are particularly looking forward to visiting the new de le Cuona showroom, we always enjoy using their beautiful fabrics on our furniture. Both Alton Brooke and Pierre Frey have exquisite fabrics that look fantastic on both traditional and contemporary furniture so we always make a point of visiting their showrooms and seeing the latest designs.

There is a great buzz during design week, with both Trade and Retail participating in the week’s events, talks and lectures. Many of the UK’s top Interior Designers and tastemakers give informative talks during the week and these are a great place to pick up design tips, recommendations and inspiration.


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Glass BoxesBohemian glass, or Bohemia crystal is glass produced in the regions of Bohemia and Silesia (now the Czech Republic). For centuries it has been internationally recognised for its high quality, craftsmanship, and innovative designs and is highly collectable.

The main fashion for colours came in the 1830’s glass was then coloured by layering or by colour stains and lustres. Usual colours were cornflower-blue and emerald-green. 51841 In the 1840’s green and greenish yellow glass came into fashion, was coloured with uranium and yellow glass coloured with antimony or silver chloride. Ruby glass coloured with copper was used almost exclusively for over-laying clear glass. A cut decoration that exposed the transparent layer underneath gave the glass a richly decorative effect. Gold was used for colouring the pinkish Rosaline glass that was made around the middle of the 19th Century by both the Harrach and Meyr glassworks.

The traditional techniques of engraving remained artistically in the forefront in Bohemia. In the traditional refinery region of North Bohemia only naïve mythological and allegorical scenes were engraved in the first quarter of the 19th Century celebrating loyalty, love and friendship, the ages of man, etc. According to the latest research it seems that the high standard of engraving was preserved in the first place by the engravers in Nový Svĕt, such as both Franz and Johann Pohl (1764-1834) who like the Silesian engravers engraved seals. Both Pohls are cited as teachers of the most famous engraver of the first half of the 19th Century Dominik Biemann (1800-57).52915 Biemann left a wide range of signed works in the first place excellent portraits on glass medallions and on Harrach beakers, which show his training in drawing at the Prague Academy of Painting. Biemann settled in Prague, but he seems still to have worked occasionally for the Harrach glassworks in Nový Svĕt.

52635Bohemian glass is shaped by the two principal activities of the region – deer hunting and health spas. The town of Carlsbad was established, according to legend, when King Charles IV’s hunting party chased a deer over a cliff. In their pursuit, the hunters descended into the valley and found a bubbling hot spring. The king established a town there and a statue of a deer is one of its symbols. By the 19th century, aristocratic visitors from all over Europe combined hunting trips with a spell of detox, drinking the water and bathing in the health-giving spas.

Glassmakers in Bohemia, led by Friedrich Egermann, responded with endless experiments. The secret of ruby glass that had been made from gold a hundred years earlier was rediscovered, along with recipes for rich blue and green glass. Whilst solid coloured glass was exciting, it wasn’t suitable for engraving as the carving didn’t show up. In order to overcome this a thin layer of richly coloured glass was applied on the surface.


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IMG_20170119_105500It is very cold right now…I can tell you it is even colder at 5 am, and even colder still in Brussels.

Marc and I went on a whistle-stop tour on Thursday last week. Fortunately there was no snow or rain so I skipped along with a glass half full attitude, and an intravenous drip of caffeine. The first shop we went, we struck gold (I am told this isn’t always the case). We found a rather large 18th century Flemish Tapestry, with a far off chateau; recently Tapestries have been selling like hot cakes (hoping I haven’t jinxed that!), they provide a fantastic wall covering and add an interesting focal point to a room as well as a warmth, both aesthetically and literally. This one is winging its way to us this week!

I had never been to Brussels before so Marc pointed out what I think is his favorite area “chocolate square” and like small children starved of sweets we pressed our faces to the windows, but then like the consummate professionals we are, walked on by with out a second thought….

IMG_20170119_112229A few more shops and a beautiful harlequin set of Val st Lambert 50’s hi-ball glasses, which are probably my favorite purchase of the day, especially as Marc didn’t seem that impressed with this pair of diamanté encrusted candelabra suggested, there is no accounting for taste. Then to lunch, there is a certain novelty about being encouraged to have a glass of wine while technically at work, I didn’t even pretend to say no, the food was delicious, and the restaurant was warm, but alas we ventured back out into the cold. But not for long as we were on our way to BRAFA art fair.

IMG_20170119_164300 (1)BRAFA, if I had to compare to a London fair is a lot like Masterpiece, and one of the most easily navigable fairs I have ever been to, which was a bonus. I would be lying if I said that everything in there was to my taste, but that is life, the stands were impressive, well thought out and had a selection of very fine items. As with most fairs there was a healthy smattering of the very modern in contrast to the antique elements. We saw some beautiful works, with tapestries on the brain, of particular interest was the De Wit stand with some of the most impressive and beautiful examples of tapestries I have ever seen, Marc liked one of a cabbage leaf with an ornate floral and figural border, but I preferred “Separation of day and night” (Southern Netherlands 1585 – 1600) there is something both whimsical and fantastic about it, and it is a bit more out there than the usual landscape scene.


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15591515_1375798372452887_5153054349396038903_oComing up to London from the country on the slow train, I had a sense of trepidation as my first day at Guinevere approached. I was no stranger to antiques, my father being in the trade for many years. But what to expect from Guinevere?

I needn’t have worried; I was welcomed by all, as the most recent interloper in to this curious and exciting domain. It is fortunate that Natasha (‘oh wise one’ as I have phrased it), who was charged with training me into the job, was able to demonstrate patience, as question after question was fired at her as I attempted to find my feet. ‘It’s good you ask questions’ she said…

Familiarizing myself with this formidable depository of beautiful things, that the Tardis-like Guinevere has, was no mean feat. I was however assisted in this by Dean, Guinevere’s master of design, and his near photographic memory. Responsible for Guinevere’s famous window displays, this purveyor of style will notice anything, I mean anything, which is out of place. Displeasure can be signified with the raising of an eyebrow.

This, of course, went on under the watchful eyes of the partners of the business. Kevin, whilst giving advice and instruction, would also recount anecdotes of lost artworks, or the interesting history of an item, which brought life to many a moment.

I also began to understand the ethos of Guinevere. Antiques, is after all less a job and more a way of life. This, I believe is to be found in an understated sense of enthusiasm and dedication. It is a business of personalities, and many a varied and colourful one is to be found in this maze of valuables.

But don’t be fooled, there was plenty of hands on experience as well. Shouldering a weighty piece of furniture or scaling a step-ladder are all a day-to-day part of the job.

So, as I take the train out of London and watch the city slowly give away to countryside, I reflect on the first three weeks at Guinevere. I shall enjoy the break to the country, but now know that I have an Aladdin’s cave, in more ways than one, to which I shall return.

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img_8461 I got to PAD at 12.15 in Berkeley Square, conscious of course that I wanted to squeeze lunch in-between the two fairs. I met my friend Geoff at the door and we decided that the best way to navigate this fair efficiently was to walk around the outside then do the alleys longways.

The first stand pictured was Chahan. Custom furniture in whites and greys and fantastic texture. A very cool and modern look. Chahan and Richard are longstanding friends and I have always admired their work.

img_8463 img_8464 Visiting the stand of Gallerie ALB, Antoine Broccardo, I came across this wonderful pair of shoes, carved wood to look like feet. I also snapped the stand because I loved the eclectic mix that had a warm and comforting feel. I love the screen on the back wall, reminiscent of the Japanese paper screens we have. Almost next door was Gallerie Rapin which had a wonderful pair of brass chests of drawers. Très Chic.

And then came the inimitable Pinto stand. I love the considered and very up to date mix of elements. The pieces look casually placed, but you know its anything but. Top drawer.

My stomach was soon calling for a lunch stop, so we left Pad and decided to walk through Marylebone. Geoff suggested 28-50 Marylebone Lane, a restaurant he knew well. I had a delicious Sea Bream Ceviche washed down with a glass of White Douro. Excellent food and good wine reasonably priced. Recommended.

We then carried on foot to Frieze masters. Much further than we thought as we went first to the other Frieze. All in all, a 25 to 30 min march.
Frieze Masters is a serious affair. Right at the entrance is Dickinson Fine Art with their highlight offering of Magritte’s L’Empire des Lumieres. My nephew Max is working there, didn’t manage to catch a glimpse of him this time though.

1467393567_1422882385file6354_33 I felt there was less Fine Art there than before. I am however continually attracted to antiquities, and there were many dealers in this field. mask-smallI have always wanted a greek or roman torso in my front hall. Of particular note was a Pompeiian Bronze centre table on the stand of Phoenix Ancient Art. A one off.

Also there was a Gold Thracian mask at £1.4 million from Ariadne Galleries NY that caught my eye. And why wouldn’t it?

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-15-03-33 The Weiss gallery had, as always, a particularly fine display of early portraits, but of particular interest was this late 17th Century portrait of an Italian Jesuit missionary in China by Michaelina Wautier. Definitely my favourite of the fair.

The more I continued through the fair the more modern it became and so less my style. I got a black cab home and I snoozed. My phone told me I had walked 7 kilometres that afternoon…

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For this years London Design Festival, we are holding a Dhurrie Exhibition at Guinevere. The exhibition, which is currently open at our showroom on the Kings Road, celebrates the variety of patterns and colours of dhurries, and is accompanied by text, which explores the history, manufacturing techniques and symbolism behind the different dhurrie designs.

In India, dhurries play an important role in everyday life. These flat-weave cotton carpets are functional and decorative. The variety of colours and the simple designs make dhurries very appealing.screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-12-11-52 They are suitable for use in classic or contemporary schemes, and are extremely durable.

They became popular in Europe after the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in London, 1851. This major industrial exhibition promoted manufactured products and international trade. In the Indian Pavilion a huge ‘tile’ design dhurrie was hung up on the wall. We have examples of this design on display. As British influence grew in India, dhurrie manufacture entered a new phase and thus, the period between 1850-1930 was the finest and most creative era of dhurrie production_dsc3481.

Our stylist Dean (aided by the muscles Raffi and Julian) transformed one of our rooms by covering as much floor, wall and ceiling space with a patchwork of striped, geometric, floral, pictorial and medallion dhurries. A fabulous 19thC Anglo-Indian ebonised four poster bed, some beautiful sari covers, cushions and lampshades, different coloured mosque lanterns hang from the ceiling, and an Indian painting of a Jaisalmer Lady . The room now looks like explorers have come back from India with all of the colour and patterns you would expect.

We love it! – and it is a great way to display the dhurries, which are usually all rolled up. The exhibition encourages people to touch and interact with the dhurries; to feel the different texture and softness of the weave and the surprising weight of the carpets. _dsc3477

For the exhibition, we borrowed a selection of really special and unusual antique dhurries from private collections. One of my favourites is this pictorial dhurrie, from northern Deccan, c.1910, which is composed of dark blue peacocks, light blue peahen and parrots. Highly decorative dhurries, such as these, would have most likely been commissioned by a wealthy family. In the centre of the dhurrie a peacock looks out directly at the viewer, displaying his plumage in an act of courtship ritual. The fertility symbols in the design implies that this dhurrie was part of a dowry, and its size suggests it was a bed dhurrie. Definitely worth a visit in our opinion….


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GIANT WINE POURER Last week, Anna and I went to Christie’s to see ‘Incredible Inventions and Curious Collections’.

On the first Tuesday of every month, Christies has a late night opening with art and wine, who could resist?! This was ashamedly my first time visiting Christies, and so when Anna suggested it, I had no option but to go.

The evening featured an array of unusual and unique objects. There was a demonstration of a one-and-a-half-metre-high mechanical corkscrew and wine-pouring machine. This gargantuan beast seemed to me a bit unnecessary however obviously a feat of engineering. If push came to shove…I would have no clue how to use it!

img_20160906_184640 My favourite item was a modern Novelty ‘Dragon’ Clock by Alexander Mushkin. Made from over 1,000 individual pieces, including spoons, forks, car engine parts, brass wire, candlesticks, and many other random things.

img_20160906_184423 Anna, for some reason, loved this Giant Stainless Steel Fork by Mark Reed… She claims it was because it was big and shiny, but I think the wine may have taken affect.

We also went to a highly informative and interesting talk by Dr Michael Pritchard, Director General of The Royal Photographic Society speak on the history of Leica cameras. Unfortunately we missed the game of mini golf that took place at some point during the evening.

We finished the evening with an Aperol Spritz at a nearby bar and then a delicious pizza at Franca Manco’s.

I love the idea of being able to view all of these amazing one off pieces especially combining it as a social event as opposed to what I had always imagined could be a very intimidating venue. Same again next month? Apparently, there will be a special Antiques Challenge – I wonder what the prize will be!?


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One of the great things about working at Guinevere is the opportunity to meet interesting people. I had heard about mud larks, usually poor children of the 18th and 19th centuries who scavenged in the Thames mud and shingle for anything of value that they could sell for money. It transpires that one of the directors, Florence Evans, of the Weiss Gallery (location of the Guinevere Pop Up in Mayfair) is a modern-day mud larker. Really!? And she agreed to take me along to show me what it was all about.

We met at Barbican Station, crossed the bridge and climbed over a locked gate to get to the foreshore. We were a bit late for the lowest tide, but we had plenty of shoreline to scavenge. It takes a while to develop an eye for the small pieces lurking in the mud and shingle. I despaired until I spied my first piece.

And this is some of what we found: The bowl of a clay tobacco pipe and a myriad of pipe stems: Photo 1 Photo 2 These pipes were sold pre-packed with tobacco and then were thrown away. The stems of these pipes are everywhere along the foreshore, but intact bowls, less so…particularly this smaller bowl variety, which dates from the early days of tobacco use, between 1580 and 1610. Tobacco smoking became quite a craze, and perhaps Sir Walter Raleigh smoked this very pipe!

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.37.51

Bellarmine Potsherd 17th c. (right, sample of intact face from Jug). Also known as a Bartmann jug – German for ‘bearded man’ – it was a type of stoneware from the Cologne region manufactured in the 16th and 17th centuries. It always incorporates a bearded man on the neck of the vessel.

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Brass dress pins, Tudor – 18th c.

Neolithic flint flake (definitely made by human hands fashioning tools).

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Green glaze shards, possibly Medieval

Piece of Roman Marble

Photo 9

Shard of combed slipware pottery. The unfired pot was dipped in liquid clay (the slip) to coat it. And then a pattern of dark lines on top of the slip was ‘combed’ in, like the icing on a Bakewell tart.

You have to keep an eye on the tide though. A few hours later, the area we covered is under water again.

Photo 10

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