A Tale of Two Monkeys
Anthony Speelman is the doyen of English art dealers specializing in Dutch Golden Age art. Vividly written and handsomely illustrated, his memoirs offer fascinating insight into the sometimes secretive world of Old Masters. This book will appeal not only to dealers, collectors and others in the fine art world, but also to would-be collectors eager for a glimpse behind the curtain. These memoirs cover a lifetime of dealing in Old Masters at the very highest level. Speelman's career started under the guidance of his father Edward, whose own biography has much to tell. Over the years, Speelman has sold paintings to many of the world's greatest collectors, including Norton Simon, Paul Mellon, Baron Thyssen, Harold Samuel, Charles Clore and the Wrightsmans in New York, along with world renowned museums such as the Getty, the Louvre and the National Gallery, London, among many others. He writes about his encounters with these eminent bodies in a light-hearted style, sometimes amusing, always extremely interesting - including an anecdote about a recent meeting with a Chinese billionaire with a penchant for fine wine. The two monkeys in the title refer to two paintings of a monkey holding a peach by George Stubbs, the outstanding English animal painter. Anthony describes how he discovered one of these masterpieces as a 'sleeper' in a Sotheby's sale. Early in his career Anthony's rooms in Piccadilly were broken into and a number of paintings stolen, including a George Stubbs painting of a spaniel. An intriguing tale follows, ending with the paintings recovered some eighteen months later after a failed blackmail attempt on the part of the thieves. Amongst his accomplishments, Speelman was for many years chairman of the vetting committee at the annual Maastricht art fair. He describes the working of the committees which ensure that all works exhibited are correctly described. Still active in the art world, he is currently chairman of the vetting committee of the prestigious annual Masterpiece art fair in London. Other chapters detail Speelman's travels to California, New York and Paris, his interest in gastronomy and his thrilling adventures in the world of horseracing. The book is beautifully illustrated with examples of works that have passed through the author's hands. The wide range of illustrations is not limited to Dutch art and includes works by Canaletto, Stubbs, Raphael, Tiepolo, Melendez and other Old Masters.