How many visitors admiring the Elgin Marbles in the Duveen Gallery at the British Museum or the sculpture or installations in the galleries of the same name at Tate Britain know who anything of the benefactor Lord Duveen? He was the greatest British art dealer of his age, recognising that there was a market in the early 20th century by buying antiques and paintings from impoverished, but art-rich, European aristocratic families and selling them to the new American millionaires, as a means of enhancing their status in society, many of these collections eventually becoming the core of several of the great museums in the US.
Duveen’s London offices were naturally in Bond Street, at No 22, where the rooms were be laid out in salons with furniture, paintings, ceramics and other objects for potential purchasers to admire. Now occupied by Levy Gorvy’s London gallery which has enabled Duveen’s spirit to embrace the rooms over the winter in modern interpretation of how Duveen might have set out his salons if he was to returned in the late 20th century (he died in 1939).
A masterful idea, it shows many of the best modern artists and designers in a more informal and rich environment than the normal stark ‘white wall’ artificial gallery setting with pieces spaced out against the wall. Lord Duveen would surely approve if he came back.