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‘Completing the Picture’ is a selling exhibition pairing the finest examples from the Norman Adams’ Antique Furniture Collection, with a collection of Old Master Paintings selected by Rafael Valls Limited. This exhibition will run from Wednesday 7th November until Friday 23rd November, 2007 at Norman Adams Limited, 8 – 10 Hans Road, London SW3 1RX (opposite the west side of Harrods). Open Monday – Friday 10am – 5.30pm.

This is the first time that Norman Adams Limited and Rafael Valls Limited have combined examples from their joint collections for an exhibition in Norman Adams’ Knightsbridge Galleries.

‘Completing the Picture’ illustrates the perfect partnership that English antique furniture and Old Master paintings achieve with hand-picked pieces by leading eighteenth and nineteenth century cabinet-makers, including Henry Hill of Marlborough and Gillows, as well as Old Master paintings from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, including Sir Thomas Lawrence, Jan van Bylert and Jan Josefsz van Goyen. The exhibition offers both new and established collectors an opportunity to view signature pieces in a domestic setting.

Each pairing of an Old Master painting and a piece of fine furniture has been carefully chosen to complement the other. A Still Life of Peaches, Grapes and a Melon on a Silver Plate on a Wooden Table from 1649 by Dutch Master Laurens Craen, will hang above a c.1750 Irish mahogany side table, with an apron carved with flowers, acanthus and a classical mask. Sir Thomas Lawrence’s fine Portrait of Mrs George Frederick Stratton has been partnered with a George III ormolu mounted mahogany serpentine commode in the French taste from 1765 and attributed to Henry Hill of Marlborough. The full length portrait of Mrs Stratton by Lawrence can be seen in the Ringling Museum, Sarasota.

Further highlights from the Norman Adams Collection in this exhibition include the Harvey Suite, a suite of George III drawing room furniture, comprising a set of four carved mahogany armchairs and a pair of window seats from c.1780. These pieces were commissioned by the Harvey Family for their family seat Ickwell Bury, Bedfordshire. All the pieces are stamped RE, thought to be Richard & Robert Edmundson, a company known to have worked with Gillows and the design corresponds with one in the Gillows’ Estimate Sketch Books from 1788.

Early examples include a Charles II limewood mirror in the manner of Grinling Gibbons from c.1680, similar to one in the V&A Museum collection and a set of four George I walnut and marquetry side chairs from c.1715 with floral gros point needlework seat coverings that may be original.

Further eighteenth century pieces include a Sheraton period Scottish mahogany bonheur-du-jour c.1790 with thistle marquetry in the quartered and cross-banded panels typical of period Scottish cabinet-making, once owned by a Dr Alexander Bell, who left 50 letters in a secret drawer. He was probably the first owner of the piece. There will also be a George III bow-fronted painted commode in the neoclassical taste, popularised by Robert Adam, from c.1780 and an exquisite George III harewood and marquetry tambour writing table of c.1775, which is similar in design to examples in the collections of both the Duke of Northumberland and at Temple Newsam House, Leeds.

From the nineteenth century there is a splendid mid-nineteenth English bureau plat in Louis XV taste with its original green leather top and ormolu mounts from the collection of the Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, as well as a finely carved mahogany centre pedestal desk of c.1860, which harks back to a design for a Library Table in plate LXXXIV of the 1762 edition of Chippendale’s ‘The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director’ of a century earlier.

Further examples from Rafael Valls’ Collection include superb Dutch Still Life pictures from the seventeenth century, including a painting by Laurens Craen, one of the better followers of Jan Davidsz de Heem from 1649. A selection of landscape studies include An Estuary Landscape with Figures in Rowing Boats off a Jetty by Jan Josefsz van Goyen, an exponent of the New Haarlem landscape school of the seventeenth century, originally from the Easton Neston Collection. The artist, Jan van Bylert was one of a group of Utrecht Caravaggesque painters, who were heavily influenced by Caravaggio. His painting, ‘The Jolly Toper’ is a study of a young man drinking a glass of wine. This example is from the collection of the Baroness Eugene de Rothschild.

Stewart Whittington of Norman Adams Ltd commented: “We are delighted to provide a setting to illustrate how well-chosen English furniture and Old Master paintings can complete the picture in a collector’s home.”

Rafael Valls of Rafael Valls Limited said: “Old Master paintings and fine furniture have always been the perfect foil for each other and we are delighted to be able to develop our working relationship from the BADA Fair to this more expansive setting.”


Photographs available

For further information:

Christopher Claxton Stevens &
Stewart Whittington
Norman Adams Ltd
8-10 Hans Road
London SW3 1RX

Tel: +44(0)20 7589 5266
Fax: +44(0)20 7589 1968

Rafael & Caroline Valls
11 Duke Street
St. James’s
London SW1Y 6BN Tel: +44(0)20 7930 1144
Fax: +44(0)20 7976 1596

Media Enquiries:

Russell Elliott
Cassleton Elliott & Co. Ltd.
Tel: +44(0)20 7499 1124
Fax: +44(0)20 7499 1124
Mob: +44(0)7808 403 963

Notes to Editors:

Norman Adams Ltd

Norman Adams Ltd is a family firm that has been established since 1923 and in Knightsbridge from 1928. Behind the original Edwardian façade, the showrooms with their high ceilings contain a large stock of the finest 18th century English furniture with the emphasis on condition, colour and patina which have for so long been the hallmarks of the business. There are also chandeliers, clocks and barometers, needlework and objects to complete a room or house.

Coming from Bristol, Norman Adams set up his business as an antiques dealer in Boston, Massachusetts in 1923. As well as shops in New York, he opened at 10 Hans Road, opposite Harrods, in 1928 and here they still are, a family-owned firm with traditional values in customer care.

Upon Norman Adam’s death in 1979, his son-in-law Stewart Whittington took over and together with Christopher Claxton Stevens, continues to uphold the fine tradition laid down for over three-quarters of a century.

Christopher Claxton Stevens and Stewart Whittington are also authors of the universally acclaimed book titled ‘18th Century English Furniture – The Norman Adams Collection’ which is now in its fifth printing. It contains over five hundred illustrations, many of them in colour, of furniture which has passed through the hands of the firm.

The firm has exhibited at the Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair since 1936. They have also been members of the British Antique Dealers’ Association since 1923 and are members of C.I.N.O.A. the International Fine Art Dealers’ Association.

Rafael Valls

Rafael Valls Limited is a St. James's art gallery mainly dealing in Old Master Paintings and specialising in Dutch, Flemish and Spanish paintings. Owned and run by Rafael Valls and his wife, Caroline, it has traded for over thirty years and the two galleries (one in Duke Street and the other 20 yards away in Ryder Street) carry an eclectic and varied stock.
The Ryder Street Gallery, as well as exhibiting a number of eighteenth and nineteenth century paintings, also holds five to six contemporary exhibitions a year.

Rafael Valls Limited exhibits regularly at major Art Fairs throughout Europe including The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht and The British Antique Dealers Association Fair. The gallery also purchases works of art directly from private clients and acts as agents for clients, as well as providing valuations, advice on conservation and advice to buyers and sellers at auction.
The gallery is also a Member of the British Antique Dealers’ Association, The Society of London Art Dealers and the Confédération Internationale des Négotiants en Oeuvres d'Art (C.I.N.O.A).

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