Gill and Reigate in The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The museum archives at Minneapolis Institute of Arts are a fantastic resource for researching the synergies between the development of museum collections and the history of the antique trade. Thanks again for all their help with the Antique Dealers research project to Jennifer Olivarez and Dawn Fahlstrom in the curatorial offices at MIA!  As I discovered, the ‘object files’ at MIA record scores of transactions with antique dealers, both in the USA (as you would expect), and via the British trade (as you would expect!).

This accession record card (ref 23.55) for a ‘XVIth Century table’, which entered the collections at MIA in 1923 (facilitated by the Washburn Fund), records just one of those transactions, and also highlights the relationships between the museum and the market. The accession record card describes a ‘table: with carved bulbous legs and inlaid side rails and stretchers, 1580-1620’ – ‘from Over Court Manor, Almondsbury, Gloucestershire’ – with a ‘Note: repaired below legs and stretchers’. The table was purchased from the British based antique dealers Gill& Reigate (who also had a branch in New York in the 1920s – hence, I expect, the sale direct to MIA).

gill and reigate 1923

Museum Accession Record Card, 23.55. ‘Furniture, English XVI Century’. Showing accession of a XVIth century table, supplied by Gill & Reigate in 1923 (purchase price redacted). Courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo MW 2015.

The archive file also contains a copy of the black & white photograph of the table (which is the vertically displayed photocopy image in the accession record card above) – and which appears to be original Gill & Reigate dealer record photograph –

gill and reigate 1923 3

Museum object file 23.55. Photograph of XVIth century table. Courtesy of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo MW 2015.

The antique dealers, decorators, and furniture manufacturers and retailers, Gill & Reigate Limited were trading at 73-77 Oxford Street and at 7 Soho Square, London when they supplied the table to The Minneapolis Institute of Art.  The firm were established in the 1890s, and by the 1920s were already well-patronised enough to have been granted a Royal Warrant.  These advertisements from the 1920s illustrate the changing locations of the firm, as they moved from Oxford Street and Soho Square in the 1910s and 1920s (also trading as ‘The Soho Galleries’)……

G and R 1921

Advertisement for Gill & Reigate, 1921.

G and R 1927

Advertisement for Gill & Reigate, 1927.

 

…………to these very elegant premises in George Street, London W1 in the early 1930s (see below).

Gill and Reigate 25 26 George Street London June 1937 Conn

Gill & Reigate, 25-26 George Street, London W1, c.1930.

The archive at MIA also contains a letter from Gill & Reigate, from their Oxford Street address, dated 17th August 1923, addressed to Russell A. Plimpton Esq., who had only a couple of years earlier (1921) taken up the post of Director of Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

 

gill and reigate 1923 1

Letter from Gill & Reigate Limited, to Russell Plimpton, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 17th August 1923. Museum object file 23.55. Courtesy of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Photo MW 2015.

The letter is essentially part of an exchange between Gill & Reigate and the Director at MIA focused on establishing the provenance, and by extension of course the authenticity, of the table – and this (authenticity) was something that was becoming ever more important in the period – if you are interested do look up Stefan Muthesius’s important and groundbreaking essay on this subject, ‘Why do we buy Old Furniture? aspects on the authentic antique in Britain, 1870-1910’ (Art History, vol. 11, No.2, pp. 231-254, June 1988).

Anyway, the letter states that the table ‘originally stood in Overcourt Manor, Almondsbury, Gloucestershire’, and continues, ‘Overcourt is an old Elizabethan Manor, and the table was in the possession of the Cann-Lippincott’s who were Lords of the Manor. The table had only lately been moved from there to Whitechurch, Salop, where Mr Gill procured it.’ What the writer of the letter  omits to say is the link between Over Court and Whitechurch…..it would be interesting to know how and why the table ended up in Whitechurch where Mr Gill ‘procured it’….but maybe I fall into the trap of rehearsing the trope of the dealer as ‘problem’…and the history of antique dealers is much more complex, and richly patterned, that that old chestnut!

Incidentally, Over Court Manor unfortunately no longer exists, it was destroyed by fire in 1977.  Apparently only the gate arch to the Manor remains….

Overcourt Manor

Over Court, Almondsbury, undated, but maybe early c.1970s?. Photo Paul B. Townsend – wikicommons.

There’s much more to say about the fabulous archives at Minneapolis Institute of Arts……so do keep your eye on the Antique Dealer Project Blog.

Mark

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