John Read Smith

The late dealer John Read Smith with his dog Jools.

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Popular dealer Read Smith dies

Dealer John Read Smith has died. A popular and much respected figure in the trade, he was a stalwart of many fairs, once standing at 75 different events in one year.

The funeral is set for 2.15pm on Wednesday, November 15, at Hereford Crematorium, Westfaling Street, Hereford HR4 0JE. Donations to British Heart Foundation are welcomed.

An obituary will follow in a future issue.

Tapestry takes step closer to UK return


Saint Paul directing The Burning Of The Heathen Books by Pieter Coecke.

A previously lost tapestry, commissioned by Henry VIII during the turmoil of the English Reformation, is a step closer to returning to the UK.

The Art Fund has pledged £200,000 for the tapestry to be purchased for a museum in north-east England.

The Auckland Project, a group of heritage attractions, galleries and gardens in the historic town of Bishop Auckland in County Durham, is leading the fundraising.

If successful, the project’s Faith Museum, which opened on October 7, will house the tapestry.

The monumental work - nearly 20ft (6.1m) wide - depicts a bonfire on which St Paul directs the burning of irreligious books.

Designed by Pieter Coecke van Aelst, it is the only known survivor from a set of nine woven compositions emblematic of the Act of Supremacy that were made for Hampton Court.

It is thought to have remained in England until the late 1960s, when it was acquired by a dealer in Barcelona, and remains in a private collection in Spain. As reported in ATGs in 2018, and in No 2603, the tapestry is subject to an export ban preventing it from being bought by an owner outside Spain.

However, Spain’s Ministry of Culture has agreed that if a suitable UK institution with a link to its history can pay the £4.5m price tag, it will allow the tapestry to return to Britain.

The Auckland Project has until March 2024 to raise £4.1m in order to acquire the tapestry.

Silver stolen from military museum


Police have released images of some of the items stolen from the Royal Lancers & Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Museum. Missing works include a silver gilt rosewater dish, the Hurlingham Grand Military Polo trophy and statuettes of mounted soldiers.

Police are appealing for information after a collection of antique silver was stolen from a museum near Worksop in Nottinghamshire.

The items were taken in the early hours of October 29 from a display case at the Royal Lancers & Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Museum at Thoresby Park.

Anyone with extra information is asked to contact Nottingham police or call 101 quoting incident 273 of Sunday, October 29, 202 3.

Crimestoppers can also be contacted on 0800 555 111.

Memorabilia next for Fake or Fortune?

Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould

Fake or Fortune? presenters Fiona Bruce and Philip Mould. Image: BBC Studios Anna Gordon.

The BBC’s Fake or Fortune? is known for discovering artworks - from paintings to sculpture. But for its next series it is expanding into memorabilia.

Following the recently broadcast 11th series, the show is now beginning research for its 12th series for next year.

Fake or Fortune?, which features art dealer Philip Mould and broadcaster Fiona Bruce, investigates whether artworks submitted by members of the public are actually genuine.

Read more about the search for memorablia here.

If you think you have an item of interest contact (include photographs).

The subject Matta to attract bidders


Venus de Venus by Roberto Matta, £68,000 at Sworders.

A group of 26 works by the Chilean painter Roberto Matta (1911-2002) drew international interest and raised a hammer total of £107,900 at Sworders’ latest Modern & Contemporary Art sale. The group came for sale from the collection of the solicitor and friend of the artist Clifford Harris, having previously adorned his north London home.

The Santiago-born painter became an influential figure in 20th-century surrealism and abstract expressionism.

Leading the group here was Venus de Venus, a 6ft 7in (2m) wide oil on canvas from 1966 which featured mechanical forms and anguished figures (the subject related to the psychological distress of warfare). Estimated at £40,000-60,000, it sold for £68,000 to the Spanish trade. The Sworders sale as a whole raised £606,610.

See further Modern and Contemporary art highlights.

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In Numbers


The distance in miles (12,000km) travelled by the 1953 Bristol KSW double-decker bus used by Paul McCartney and the band Wings on their 1972 Wings over Europe tour. Fully restored, the bus is estimated at $200,000-300,000 at Julien’s Auctions of Gardena, California, on November 16.