The History of Marchant

1921
1921

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.

1925
1925

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.

1936
1936

Richard Marchant is born 2nd February.

1944
1944

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.

1949
1949

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.

1950's
1950's

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.

1952
1952

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

1953
1953

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.

1960s
1960s

Many Japanese clients start to appear.

1964
1964

Barnett (Barney) Morris became the gallery manager. He is the uncle of Rita Marchant, Richard’s wife.

1970s
1970s

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

1971
1971

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.

1972
1972

Richard Marchant in the gallery at Kensington Church Street.

1974
1974

Barnett (Barney) Morris passes away.

1975
1975

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.

1975
1975

Marchant Yuan vase sold at Sotheby’s London and it is purchased by the Idemitsu Museum, Japan.

1976
1976

Richard Marchant gives a lecture to the Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, entitled “Some Interesting Pieces of Marked Ch’ing Porcelain”.

1980
1980

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.

1985
1985

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.

1988
1988

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.

Image: Simon Gregory 2019.

1989
1989

Japanese market is declining.

1990
1990

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.

1991
1991

S. Marchant & Son exhibit Nineteenth Century Mark & Period Porcelain and the show is a great success.

1992
1992

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.

1993
1993

Colin Payne (Gallery Manager) retires from S. Marchant & Son, occasionally helping at fairs in London & New York.

1995
1995

Watercolour painting of the gallery shopfront, 1995.

1995
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.

1996
1996

Marchant & Son hold a remarkable exhibition called Imperial Porcelain of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong. 

1996
1996

The coral Yongzheng mark and period box in the exhibition, formerly in the collection 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.

1997
1997

Hong Kong returned to the PRC from UK Sovereignty and begins influence of Chinese buyers for Asian works of art.

2000
2000

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.

2001
2001

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.

2002
2002

Spink & Son Ltd., established in 1666, stop dealing in everything aside from coins and medals, including Chinese art and antiques.

2003-2005
2003-2005

Richard Marchant appointed treasurer of the British Antique Dealers Association.

2005
2005

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.

2005
2005

Stuart and his son Samuel previewing Christie’s Amsterdam, 2005.

2006
2006

Richard and Stuart in the library at 120 Kensington Church Street, 2006.

2008
2008

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.

2009
2009

S. Marchant & Son reverts to original name of Marchant as the building undergoes total renovation.

2009
2009

Marchant reopen their premises at 120 Kensington Church Street with a special Ming porcelain exhibition.

2011
2011

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.

2014
2014

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.

2015
2015

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.

2015
2015

Stuart’s son, Samuel, joins the business after graduating from the University of Bristol.

2017
2017

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.

2018
2018

Stuart in 1st floor gallery.

2018
2018

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.

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