The History of Marchant
The timeline below will take you on a brief journey through Marchant’s history. With over 95 years’ experience in the art world, you will find interesting moments from the history of the company, together with notable events in the art world and other moments which had a large impact on the market.
The Oriental Ceramic Society was established, at first it was an exclusive gathering of twelve people but later became an international institution. Supply lines are established by dealers between the East and West and it is marked as a golden age for Western collectors.
East Londoner Samuel Sydney Marchant (1897-1975), a First World War veteran soldier, whose first job was selling stationery in Selfridges, served an apprenticeship in an antique gallery specialising in French furniture. Enjoying and being fascinated by antique furniture, he decided to open an antiques shop in Cursitor Street, off Chancery Lane in the City of London. Marchant held a large stock of Oriental art, but also dealt in wider works of art such as European paintings and watercolours. Many antiques were available as Irish and British country homes were selling their contents.
Richard Marchant is born 2nd February.
Marchant’s Cursitor Street shop, off Chancery Lane takes a direct hit from a doodlebug bomb. The contents of the shop were destroyed but thankfully as it was a Sunday, no one was present. The business was able to continue as there were some pictures by Henri Fantin-Latour and some pieces of Roman glass from the George Eumorfopoulos Collection under the stairs at the family home in Willesden, north west London. Incidentally, both the homes on either side of the Marchant’s were destroyed during the Blitz.
Marchant reopened at a new gallery on Duke Street, in the West End of London. It is a year of political and social turmoil in China.
Image: Samuel Sydney Marchant showing a piece to his sister.
Samuel Sydney Marchant visits Japan and met Sir John Figgess, post-war diplomat and authority on Oriental porcelain. Later in the 1970’s, Figgess plays a key role at Christie’s giving the auctioneers introductions into Japan. Marchant begins a long friendship with Kyoto and Tokyo dealers.
China closes doors on the outside world and the supply of goods from old Chinese collections declines. A new market arises in Hong Kong, especially on Hollywood Road. Samuel Sydney Marchant visits Hong Kong regularly and purchases masses of goods, especially “Chinese taste” Ming and Qing porcelain. Marchant established a relationship with Dunt King, an expert dealer in Chinese art and ceramics. Entirely respected and trusted, he would make purchases in Hong Kong on behalf of the gallery. There were always at least one or two treasures enclosed, no doubt to make Samuel Sydney Marchant pleased.
Samuel Sydney Marchant moves to the present address at 120 Kensington Church Street, W8. The road is well-known for many antique shops since the 1920’s.
Image: Gallery shop front c.1960
Following the passing of his mother, Richard Marchant left school at 18 years old to join his father in the business. The gallery is renamed S. Marchant & Son. Soon after, they made the decision to focus on Chinese and Japanese art, to appeal to the British collectors and culture.
Many Japanese clients start to appear.
Barnett (Barney) Morris became the gallery manager. He is the uncle of Rita Marchant, Richard’s wife.
Many new clients from Taiwan and Hong Kong, smaller number of clients from Europe and the USA. This is due to the prices increasing. David S. Freedman joins S. Marchant & Son.
Image: Samuel Sydney Marchant with Robert Chang in Hong Kong
Marchant & Son purchase an imperial Qianlong mark and period pink ground butterfly vase at the Christie’s London sale of the Morrison Collection from Fonthill House, 8th October. Later sold to legendary dealer and connoisseur, Jun Tsei Tai (J.T. Tai 1911-92).
Colin V. Payne becomes gallery manager.
Richard Marchant in the gallery at Kensington Church Street.
Barnett (Barney) Morris passes away.
Marchant & Son exhibit at the Grosvenor House Art & Antiques Fair for the first time. The firm continued to exhibit here every year until it closed in 2009.
Samuel Sydney Marchant passes away.
Marchant Yuan vase sold at Sotheby’s London and it is purchased by the Idemitsu Museum, Japan.
Richard Marchant gives a lecture to the Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, entitled “Some Interesting Pieces of Marked Ch’ing Porcelain”.
After the refurbishment of the basement and ground floor gallery, S. Marchant & Son held their first catalogued exhibition, Chinese Blue & White, Wanli to Kangxi. Ever since, S. Marchant & Son has held annual or bi-annual scholarly exhibitions.
Stuart Marchant, Richard’s son and the third generation, joins the company after working for five years outside of the family business. He worked for two years at Christie’s London, then a Christie’s art course for one year, followed by two years in New York with Alan & Simone Hartman of Rare Art. At this time, Americans and Japanese were the strongest buyers for both Chinese & Japanese works of art.
Simon Abraham-Gregory joins in March as the gallery manager. He is an integral part of the daily running of the gallery until this day.
The Taiwanse market becomes very active and the American market continues to be strong.
Image: Simon Gregory 2019.
Stuart’s wife, Laura, joins the company and is responsible for display, window dressing and hospitality. She often accompanies Stuart on viewing trips.
Image: Richard & Laura, 2010.
S. Marchant & Son exhibit Nineteenth Century Mark & Period Porcelain and the show is a great success.
S. Marchant & Son hold their second exhibition entirely dedicated to Qing imperial porcelain, the front and back cover from this show are now in the Cologne Museum, Germany.
Bluetts Ltd., founded in 1884 and John Sparks Ltd. founded in 1890 both cease trading.
Colin Payne (Gallery Manager) retires from S. Marchant & Son, occasionally helping at fairs in London & New York.
Watercolour painting of the gallery shopfront, 1995.
Marchant hold their first exhibition dedicated entirely to jades, which includes an impressive seahorse, also the front cover enlargement, which sold on the opening day.
S. Marchant & Son hold a remarkable exhibition titled Imperial Porcelain of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong.
The coral Yongzheng mark and period box in the exhibition, formerly in the collections of Professor E.T. Hall and Brodie & Enid Lodge, exhibited in the 1949 Oriental Ceramic Society Exhibition, Monochrome Porcelain of the Ming and Manchu Dynasties, is purchased by the Baur Museum, Geneva, Switzerland.
Hong Kong is returned to PRC from UK Sovereignty and begins the influence of Mainland Chinese buyers for Asian works of art.
S. Marchant & Son produce their first Recent Acquisitions catalogue, which includes a famous large blue and white seated figure of the immortal Zhongli Quan, previously from the collections of Charles Russell, Richard Bennett and exhibited at the 1935 Royal Academy exhibition of Chinese art.
David S. Freedman retires from S. Marchant & Son.
S. Marchant & Son hold the exhibition of Ming Blue and White Porcelain – The Drs. A.M. Sengers Collection, which includes a Longqing mark and period bowl from the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, sold by Sotheby & Co. London, 15th October 1968 in a duplicates auction, when it was originally purchased by Samuel Sydney Marchant.
Spink & Son Ltd., established in 1666, stop dealing in everything aside from coins and medals, including Chinese art and antiques.
Richard Marchant appointed treasurer of the British Antique Dealers Association.
Richard Marchant becomes Chairman of the British Antique Dealers Association until 2009.
Image: Richard Marchant receiving an award for distinguished services to the BADA, 2018.
Stuart and his son Samuel previewing Christie’s Amsterdam, 2005.
Richard and Stuart in the library at 120 Kensington Church Street, 2006.
S. Marchant & Son hold the exhibition of Ming Porcelain for the Japanese Market and two wucai floral dishes published by Yamanaka in 1933 are sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
The Fonthill ‘Butterfly Vase’, originally purchased by S. Marchant & Son in the Fonthill auction at Christie’s London, 1971, returns to the market as the property of Ping Y Tai in Christie’s Hong Kong, 3rd December.
S. Marchant & Son reverts to original name of Marchant as the building undergoes total renovation.
Marchant reopen their premises at 120 Kensington Church Street with a special Ming porcelain exhibition.
Natalie Marchant, Stuart’s daughter, joins the company as the fourth generation. She specialises in the creative side of the business; the exhibition photography for the catalogues, managing the website and creating adverts for publications. She also accompanies Richard and Stuart on buying trips and viewing auctions.
Stuart Marchant lectures at the Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney on 19th February about the history of Marchant.
Marchant holds their 4th Blanc de Chine exhibition in November, following those of 1985, 1994 and 2006.
Marchant marks their 90th Anniversary with a series of exhibitions; Qing Porcelain from Private Collections, Chinese Export Porcelain, and a special jade exhibition, Ninety Jades for 90 Years.
Stuart’s son, Samuel, joins the business after graduating from the University of Bristol.
Marchant exhibit Kangxi Famille Verte. The front cover piece, the ladies vase, returns to Marchant for a fourth time. Originally sold by Christie’s London, 1937, in their auction of the Property of the late Martin Erdmann Collection, later sold by Sotheby’s Hong Kong in the T.Y. Chao auction 1986, also published as the front cover of Provenance, the book by Roy Davids and Dominic Jellinek. The pair to this vase is in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
Stuart in 1st floor gallery.
Four generations at Marchant, from left to right: Stuart, Natalie, Samuel and Richard, in front of the November 2018 exhibition, Chinese Ceramics Han to Song.