Forrest & Fraser feature in the The Open Art Fair Magazine article:
The Huguenot Influence
14 JANUARY 2021
The impact of French Protestant refugees on English furniture-making and decorative arts.
Huon Mallalieu is an historian who writes on art, antiques and collecting for The Times, Country Life and The Oldie. He is the author or editor of many books, including ‘The Dictionary of British Watercolour Artists’ and ‘1066 and Rather More, a Walk through History’. He is FSA and Hon RWS.
By 1573 there were at least 9,500 recently arrived “strangers” in London, amounting to about 10% of the population, and in the six years up to that date up to 50,000 immigrants had settled in England as a whole. For the most part they were Huguenots, Protestant refugees from France, the Low Countries particularly Wallonia, and the borders of the Holy Roman Empire. As is well known, many (including my own ancestors) were involved in cloth-making, but other skills and crafts included goldsmithing, clockmaking, printing, paper-making, haberdashery, tapestry-weaving, shoemaking, bookselling, gardening, and brewing beer with hops, which they introduced to England.
One of the most significant artists to take refuge in London was Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues (c.1533 - 88). He had escaped two massacres, the first by Spaniards in Florida, the second St Bartholomew in Paris. He made the first records of North American natives, flora and fauna, and in Britain he set a pattern for botanical illustration which still endures. Recently two of his botanical watercolours were on the London market. They came from an 81-leaf album sold for $1,136,000 in 2005.
The Edict of Nantes brought the French Wars of Religion to an end in 1598, and there was little further immigration until renewed persecution by Louis XIV culminated in the revocation of the edict in 1685. In the following 15 years an estimated 25,000 Huguenots arrived in London, with a steady trickle following until the mid-18th century. With soldiers, financiers and entrepreneurs, this second wave included silk weavers, silversmiths and engravers, and a significant number of cabinetmakers. Their influence on the evolution of English, indeed British, fashions was marked, especially after the architect, designer and engraver Daniel Marot (1661 - 1752) arrived in the wake of William III’s invasion. Some decades ago the Huguenot immigration was reckoned to be the largest ever relative to existing population, but perhaps it has now been exceeded by the 14% recorded in 2019.
Marot’s grandfather had been a cabinetmaker, his father architect du roi to Louis XIV, and he himself had designed for the cabinetmaker André Charles Boulle before being exiled to Holland in 1685. Although he worked in England for a comparatively short time, principally at Hampton Court, as Sacheverel Sitwell put it, Marot “drew designs for almost everything that could be imagined”, and he left an indelible mark through the more than 200 prints published first in themed sets and then in collected editions in 1703 and 1712. Without the Huguenots, the age of oak and walnut would have persisted for longer in England.
As Tessa Murdoch, the authority on Huguenot cultural history, noted in her doctoral thesis: “There is little evidence that Marot actually supervised the execution of his furniture designs in this country, and it is significant that few original drawings by him survive, or have yet been identified”. However, his furniture designs were widely copied in particular by Dutch and English craftsmen. Indeed, several close members of his wife’s family were leading London cabinet makers.
It might seem surprising that under the francophile Charles II the predominant influence should have been Dutch and the William & Mary style more French-inspired, but Charles had spent his formative years in exile at the Hague, and from the 1680s Marot and others carried with them the French baroque of Versailles. Marot dealt in the grandiose, although he was capable of tactful assimilation: as noted by an early 20th century furniture historian, “he typified the swing of British taste away from provincialism and toward greater luxury and ornateness.”
The Huguenot community constituted not only an invaluable network for makers and craftsmen, but also linked them to Court patronage and Christopher Wren, the Surveyor-General of the King’s Works. Wren worked with Marot, and regular collaborators included Jean Tijou, the greatest artist in ironwork to practice in England. According to descendants his birth and death dates were 1660 to 1720, but British art reference knows him only by the work he did in England between 1689 and 1712. Among his many triumphs was the Hampton Court Privy Garden Screen. Like Marot, he extended his influence by publishing; A New Book of Drawings, invented and designed by Jean Tijou appeared in 1693, and copies and variations of his dancing garden gates and railings are made to this day.
Silversmiths left France not only for religious reasons, but also because Louis XIV’s wars and architectural extravagance had hit their patrons. While Paul de Lamerie is the outstanding figure, his fellow Huguenots dom were a major element in London gold and silversmithing throughout the 18th century. Many intermarried founding dynasties. Thus the daughter of Jean Chartier, naturalised in 1697, - Forrest & Fraser have a 1716 coffee pot by him - married Peze Pilleau, who is regarded as de Lamerie’s equal. Mary Cooke Antiques recently had a large pepper caster by Pilleau. Less usually, his goldsmith father Auguste specialised in gold teeth.
In the trade lists some people who were evidently cabinet makers were listed as “gravers”, presumably because they engraved designs on metal inlays. In any event, engravers were another important element in the Huguenot craft networks, providing decoration for silversmiths, and of course making prints. Until Hogarth (who had begun by engraving for silversmiths and later employed a French assistant) turned his attention to printmaking, the London business was dominated by French printers, and many of the draughtsmen who worked with them to provide book illustrations were also French. While in the 18th century this was no longer necessarily to do with religion, it stemmed from a similar cause, as authors and artists could escape strict French censorship.
Forrest & Fraser partakes in the discussion of art fairs and the nature of being an online business in the climate of social distancing and lockdown in The Open Art Fair Magazine
In Real Life
25 JUNE 2020
Why do we go to fairs in an age of e-commerce?
Months ago and worlds away, I found myself watching a gnarly farmer in a Stetson peer over the metal bars of a cattle enclosure, as his grandson slouched nearby, picking his nose and rubbing it on his shorts. High on an umpire’s chair over the hubbub of the crowd, an auctioneer introduced lot 42, a jet-black, three-thousand pound bullock. The animal looked right through me as I took a sip of Lady Grey and adjusted my pyjamas, unperturbed because I was watching the event – a cattle market in Northumbria – over video link from my bed in south London, and shaking my head in wonder. I could literally buy a cow over the Internet. Is nothing sacred?
Apparently not – and over the past few months online shopping has proven a godsend for small businesses. As coronavirus lock-downs eradicate private views and in-person sales, online markets have proved a necessary lifeline to businesses in every sector, including fine arts and crafts, driving even the most Luddite dealers to focus on their online inventories in a bid to continue selling.
Sadly, online sales can only do so much to help. So far this year dozens of art fairs, in their physical form, including The Open Art Fair, have been curtailed for the sake of public health. This will be a blow to many dealers, much of whose income is derived from sales at the shows. Shows like these are not only about sales, either – they’re also opportunities to mingle, socialise, and learn with buyers and sellers alike.
“Art fairs have become an integral part of the social and cultural calendar”, I’m told by Lily Le Brun, who manages an established private collection of British art. Globetrotting collectors typically spend March in Maastricht, May in New York, and June in Basel. Because of this, fairs often coincide with the auction season, but where auctions supply an adrenaline rush to would-be buyers, she says, “fairs are a chance to slow down, make new discoveries and build relationships”.
Vanessa Curry agrees. An art consultant who has been advising collectors for over a decade, she values the opportunity to meet new dealers and discover interesting new works: “The great thing about fairs is all the new stuff that’s there which I hadn’t accounted for. It sparks inspiration.”
I ask Curry what makes an object jump out for her. “Serendipity is a really important thing when it comes to art and antiques – and it can be quite emotional – we can be at a point in our lives where an object has a certain resonance with you, and you think ‘I have to have it!’”
When I spoke to Curry, the lockdown had not started, but her words have a special resonance after several months holed up at home. I’m now intensely aware of the emotional value I associate with my favourite objects and the circumstances in which I acquired them, many of them having come to me through lucky finds and conversations at fairs and markets.
Collectors are not the only ones that feel this way. Richard Atkinson, a silverware specialist and one half of Forrest & Fraser, confided that, for him, being at the fair is mostly about personal contact.
As one of a growing cadre of online dealers, Forrest & Fraser are not affected in quite the same way by the global health crisis. While his business doesn’t have the overheads of a bricks-and-mortar gallery, being a digital dealer brings its own challenges: “showing our personality is incredibly important,” he enthuses. When fairs do eventually reopen, it’ll be a chance to take that personality back into the real world. “On our website, we try to give a sense of the evolution and personality of objects,” Atkinson says. For him, fairs promise an exciting opportunity to connect with colleagues and collectors, to talk to them about his pieces, and how they might use or display them.
Conversations like these feel impossibly far away right now, as public health concerns take precedence, but one thing the lockdown has done is remind us of the joy and excitement of the old fashioned art fair. When we’re sick of online orders and the sight of our own living rooms, we can look to the big social and artistic events as a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
In response to the corona virus pandemic we made the very difficult decision not to open our exhibition stand at The Open Art Fair in London this spring. Several of the wonderful pieces from our collections, which we intended to bring to The Open Art Fair, featured in numerous publications in the run up to this wonderful event, and we would like to thank everyone for the support we received. We look forward to the time we can meet in the not so distant future.
The Open Art Fair offers a celebration of excellence, and it is with great pleasure that we will be exhibiting here this year.
We are delighted to have this opportunity to meet you, and to offer the occasion to view some of the incredible pieces in our collection; and of course for you to be able to purchase directly from us at this wonderful and prestigious event.
We very much look forward to seeing you there!
visit https://www.theopenartfair.com for further details