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Masterpiece 2022: Sims Hilditch x Philip Mould

For the first time since 2019, Masterpiece 2022 was hosted on the grounds of Royal Hospital Chelsea from 30th June to the 6th of July. We at Sims Hilditch were delighted to work in partnership with Philip Mould to design their stand at the event. Louise Wicksteed explains more.

How did this collaboration come about?

Masterpiece is an international art fair where some of the world’s leading galleries come together to showcase the most remarkable art, antiques, jewellery and more. Sims Hilditch and Philip Mould are aligned in their mutual respect for fine art, from Old Masters and modern artists alike. Each year, Philip Mould’s stand celebrates 500 years’ worth of British Art, which provides an endless source of inspiration for our interiors.

This year, the theme of the collection focused on feminine glamour in portraiture. Our challenge was to create a design which provided the perfect backdrop for a range of artworks from different eras, all of which are painted in a variety of styles. The design had to invite the viewer into an engaging and sumptuous interior which showcased the artwork in a dynamic and thoughtful way.

What was the inspiration behind the stand?

The inspiration behind for the stand came from the juxtaposition of art and architecture in history. Firstly, the design had to give a glimpse of what lies beyond the front façade, to invite the viewer inside and on a journey through the space. Working with the symmetry of the space, we framed key views to focus on certain paintings and we introduced a series of arches to contrast with the straight lines and delight the eye. Lastly, we were inspired to create a dramatic palette to complement the beautiful rich colours present in the oil paintings.

For the walls, we selected a rich, deep aubergine colour which runs throughout the stand. This hue is relatively rare in nature, and the exotic colour has accordingly been considered sacred. This hue has been one of the most coveted and expensive colours throughout history—a consistent indication of wealth and feminine power and is often associated with royalty. We contrasted the aubergine walls with beautiful olives and natural linens on the fabrics to soften the bold, contemporary scheme and took a great deal of inspiration from paintings by Philip de Laszlo and Gerald Leslie Brockhurst.

Image: L-R Nancy Woodward by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst; Oonagh Guinness by Philip de Laszlo and Phyllis Boyd by Ambrose McEvoy.

How would you describe the aesthetic?

Our stand recreated an enticing drawing room rather than a gallery, with the idea that guests would visualise the paintings in situ within their own homes. We incorporated the armchairs and the skirted sofa from our collaboration with George Smith into the design, which we upholstered in a textured and playful fabric from the British fabric house Fermoie. We wanted to champion British makers when designing this stand and Fermoie, who print all of their fabrics in their Marlborough warehouse, was a great choice. Throughout their production process, they do not use any harmful materials traditionally associated with printing.

We also incorporated a range of curated antiques from Lorfords to add gravitas to the space befitting of 500 years of British artwork.

What purpose do the archways serve?

We chose to install archways as part of the stand to draw the eye to the key pieces of artwork, which were framed by each arch. At Sims Hilditch, we feel strongly that the surroundings inform how each individual engages with art, and guiding the eye is an important part of the process.

Image: Masterpiece will be held on the grounds of The Royal Hospital Chelsea. Image courtesy of @traveljunction

Which suppliers have you partnered with?

We were privileged to work with some of our wonderful suppliers on this project, including Vaughan, who supplied much of the lighting and a beautiful brass coffee table - and Lorfords, who kindly supplied a pair of Gustavian and Swedish Empire stools as well as a mid-19th-century sideboard. We also worked with a range of suppliers who sourced playful and elegant fabrics.

Which paintings will be on display

A stunning oil painting of Nancy Woodward will be featured as part of the stand. The portrait was painted in the 1930s and was surrounded by controversy. The artist, Gerald Leslie Brockenhurst, embarked on an affair with Nancy’s sister who was 30 years his junior. Find out more about the story behind this portrait here.

Also displayed will be an oil on canvas painting by Philip de Laszlo. This piece featuring The Hon. Mrs Philip Leyland Kindersley was painted in 1931. Born Oonagh Guinness, Oonagh was the daughter of Ernest Guinness, head of the Guinness brewery and a very wealthy man. Find out more here.

These paintings will be on display at Masterpiece from 30th June to the 6th July, along with a range of others.  We hope to see you there.