Sotheran’s new location at 18 Upper Brook Street.

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Recent gallery moves by London antiques dealers include a historic trio committing – or recommitting – to Mayfair and St James’s, showing that the area is still key to the trade.

Running north and south of Piccadilly respectively in London’s West End, the twin neighbourhoods are among the most affluent and expensive in the world and, despite many changes over the years, continue to be a hub for buying and selling art.

Among those moving to the area is Marchant, the Chinese ceramics and works of art specialist which has been at 120 Kensington Church Street since 1952. Its shift to an as-yet undisclosed location in Mayfair next year coincides with its centenary, also marked by an exhibition and the publication of a limited-edition book on the firm’s history.

According to CEO Stuart Marchant, the new gallery is set to be more convenient to its clients, and there is a hope that the move will introduce the company to new collectors too.

It was for a similar reason the company came to Kensington Church Street, itself a hub for art and antiques, in the first place. The road’s antiques trade was booming with many fellow traders operating.


On offer from Marchant is this Chinese porcelain blue and white bottle vase, painted with a seated cat, butterflies and dragon, 14in (36cm) high. Transitional, Chongzhen, c.1630-40, it is offered for £48,500.

Prior to the 1950s Marchant was based on Duke Street, St James’s, and before the Second World War on Cursitor Street off Chancery Lane.

Though Kensington Church Street is still a destination for antiques buyers, with more than 30 dealers listed as members of the local dealers’ association, for Marchant Mayfair is now a better fit.

The new premises is a Georgian-style townhouse and the firm will spread over five floors plus a basement. During this year, the property will undergo extensive refurbishment to make it fit for purpose and the firm will continue to trade from its current location.

Richard Marchant, life president, said: “Kensington Church Street has been our cherished home for over 70 years, and we will forever appreciate the memories forged within these walls. This move is not merely a change of address; it is a bold declaration of our enduring commitment to excellence and a promise to present the finest Chinese art in a location that is both historically significant and at the forefront of contemporary culture.”

Out with the old

At a glance, it might not seem that Mayfair and St James’s are in need of a boost when it comes to the trade. The presence of major historic galleries dotted along Duke Street and Bond Street is enhanced annually by events such as London Art Week (now spread across London but originally based in the linked regions) and Mayfair Art Weekend.

However, for years there has been anxiety from dealers that traditional businesses are being gradually pushed out to be replaced by Contemporary galleries or – worse – luxury brands. One hammer blow came in 2018 when Fine Art Society (FAS) left its Bond Street home after 142 years to be replaced by Contemporary giant Halcyon Gallery.

At the time of FAS's move, Tony Pontone owner of Albermarle Gallery (now Pontone Gallery) told ATG: “In Mayfair landlords appear to be after the highest rent they can get and it is becoming a place just for high-end fashion retailers.”

FAS moved to Carnaby Street, but last October that location closed too. It continues to trade online and from its Edinburgh gallery.

Richard Green recently announced it was subletting one of its Bond Street premises to a French fashion firm, though it continues to trade from its premises across the road (see ATG No 2625).

Across Piccadilly, the final dealer vacated the former artistic community of Georgian House in St James’s last year (ATG No 2546) and modern art gallery The Nine British Art recently announced that it is relocating from Bury Street (ATG No 2629), St James’s, to Pall Mall.

Incoming traffic

So, the news of dealers counting the area as home is heartening. Among them is silver specialist Koopman Rare Art, which relocated from the Silver Vaults in Chancery Lane to Dover Street, Mayfair, in 2021 (ATG No 2500).

Others, such as Rupert Maas, have made the jump from Mayfair to St James’s where, thanks to the absence of major high net worth companies, rents can be more affordable (ATG No 2480).

Staying out

When its historic home was scheduled for redevelopment, Sotheran’s Rare Books decided to stick to Mayfair and plans to open its new premises at 18 Upper Brook Street on April 1. It currently trades from 2-5 Sackville Street, farther south.

Though the firm is no stranger to relocating, it has been a while since its last move. Founded in York in 1761, it moved to London in 1813. It subsequently moved another 16 times before settling in Sackville Street in 1936. “At the time, the building was brand new, and we were its first tenants,” says the gallery’s Rebekah Cron.

There Sotheran’s survived the Second World War, despite being hit by a bomb which destroyed most of its archives.

“Moving is not new to us, and our iconic floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are coming with us,” Cron adds.

The new shop includes a library and office room and a large events space where there are plans to hold receptions and exhibitions.

Meanwhile, for jewellery dealer Hancocks London, a shift from Mayfair to St James’s means more space. It launched in Mayfair in 1849, trading from the corner of Bond Street and Bruton Street before moving to 52-53 Burlington Arcade in 1997. Now it is crossing Piccadilly to 62 St James’s Street, a five-floor townhouse where three floors are to be dedicated to jewellery.


One of the works to be showcased at Hancocks’ new location is this antique pavé diamond heart-shaped lock pendant, available for £42,500. The 18ct gold pendant opens to reveal a glazed locket compartment with a four-leaf clover inside and the dates 1875-1896 engraved at the top.

Managing director Guy Burton says: “Our collection will soon have the space it truly deserves. We are also going to be able to create a far more personal experience where space to explore at leisure and also privacy are key. We really wanted to bring us back to the House of Hancock. We are not purely retailing, we manufacture and create.”

As with Marchant, Burton is keen to point out that the move is focused on client experience. “We wanted to be able to create and experience more luxurious and befitting our collection and our amazing past, which was really only possible in a much larger premises,” he says.

Hancocks plans to open its new home later this year.

More gallery relocations

Beyond Mayfair, a flurry of other gallery moves and openings have been announced.

Interior design and antiques specialist Howe London is opening a new showroom around the corner from its main shop in Pimlico.

The new 5000 sq ft space on Bloomfield Terrace is a former Georgian stable yard, adjoining Newson’s Yard which was controversially redeveloped by Grosvenor Estates into a new ‘Design District’.

The Bloomfield Terrace showroom is a result of a partnership with US firm Woven Place which sells Contemporary and antique rugs and carpets. In the process of searching for a premises for his friend Sam Modzaradeh of the carpet dealership, Christopher Howe found the space.

It was too large for Modzaradeh on his own, so the two decided to collaborate and go in on the space together.

Launching with a client party on March 20 and opening to the public on March 25, it will feature a range of antiques complementing the selection of carpets.

The firm retains its main store at 96 Pimlico Road, another shop at 36 Bourne Street and its sales warehouse on Parkfield Industrial Estate, Battersea. Holly Howe, design and development at Howe London, said: “This uniquely vast, raw and historic space on Bloomfield Terrace will be in addition to our Pimlico Road showroom, with a completely different atmosphere. Battersea remains our ‘depot’.”


Frascione offers Madonna with Child, St John the Baptist and St Jerome by Benvenuto di Giovanni (1436-1518) in its inaugural Palm Beach exhibition Timelessness. Prices range from the thousands for sketches and a limited edition print to hundreds of thousands for the Old Masters.

Frascione Gallery, an Old Master specialist in Florence, Italy, has opened a new premises in Palm Beach, Florida. The inaugural exhibition Timelessness runs until March 30 and features Old Masters, Modern and Contemporary painting and sculpture. Curated by Massimo Pulini in partnership with Aria Art Gallery in Florence, the show seeks to show connections between art old and new.


In its inaugural exhibition at new premises Michael Hoppen offers this Boxwood mask netsuke of Karasu-Tengu by Ryuzan, 19th century, with eyes inlaid with bone, the pupils of brass. Prices at the show range from £500-28,000.

Image courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

Michael Hoppen recently moved to Holland Park in west London having previously been at Jubilee Place, Chelsea. It has announced its first major exhibition in the space for April, titled Okashi, which will feature “a different interpretation” of Japan with a range of works including photographs, posters, textiles and woodblock prints.

Volte Art Projects, a Contemporary Indian art gallery in Dubai, celebrates its 15th year in business with the launch of a Modern art space and an exhibition on Indian artist Manjit Bawa (1941-2008) on February 27. Bawa was born in India and worked as a silkscreen printer in Britain during the 1960s-70s. When he returned to India he took mythology and Sufi poetry as inspiration. Prices range from $10,000-2.5m.