Artists, and indeed collectors of art, have been actively embracing the modern phenomena of 'globalisation' long before the industrial, electrical, jet or digital revolutions.
In 1719, the Dutchman Claude du Paquier set up his porcelain works in Vienna, rivalling Meissen for the quality of his hard paste porcelain. His
principal sponsor was the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, who was specifically interested in du Paquier's ability to produce works in the style only previously seen from 'The East Indies'. With its exquisite Japanese decoration, the du Paquier tea service on page 36 is a unique reminder of the West's fascination with all things eastern.
You only have to look at our sale locations from London and Stuttgart, to New York, San Francisco, and Hong Kong, to sense the importance of global demands to our business. In Hong Kong, for example, we concentrate not only on Chinese art but also on other key collecting areas including jewellery (page 13), watches (page 40) and wine and whisky sales (page 34) – all part of placing our client's objects in the prime location to achieve the best prices. Perhaps the best exponent of this philosophy, is our motoring department who have always considered the sale location of crucial importance; the reason why we hold sales away from our network of established auction rooms in locations such as Goodwood, Paris, Stuttgart and Quail Lodge in California.
Art, of course, has always been a universal language able to reach across national boundaries and generations. As Alexander Calder pithily put it, 'The trouble with a lot of artists today is that they have too much technique and equipment. They don't know what to do with it all. If you cut down on it, you can work more strongly within narrower limits'. Calder's startlingly simple arrangements of planes and spheres, as exemplified by his 'Mountain' on page eight give us a new perspective on space and movement. His philosophy strikes a chord with several works sold at Bonhams over the last season from the beautiful simplicity of Anish Kapoor's mirror (opposite) to the magnificent Imperial famille rose bottle vase on page 32 – perfect in both form and stylised design.
In a similar vein, adopting the Calder 'less is more' approach, there follows a very select review of some of the most fascinating and beautiful lots we have had the pleasure to sell over the first half of 2015.