About us > Eskenazi History
Giuseppe Eskenazi and his father open an office in Piccadilly in London, initially to supply works of art to Eskenazi SRL, the art gallery in Milan run by their cousin Vittorio. After the death of his father in 1967, Giuseppe took sole charge of the London office, increasingly developing his own clientele.
In 1972, the continuing success of Eskenazi Ltd. prompted a move to larger premises on the first floor of Foxglove House, 166 Piccadilly. The elegant new gallery was designed by John Prizeman, a past president of the Architectural Association, and opened its doors on 29th February 1972 for an exhibition that proved a runaway success with potential purchasers queueing (and sleeping on the pavement) for 24 hours before. The same year, Philip Constantinidi joined the company as assistant to Giuseppe Eskenazi.
(Image shows Summer Exhibition of 1973)
Witnessed the visit of, among others, His Majesty King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden. Such was the pressure caused by the mass queueing of the previous year that a system was introduced incorporating timed sealed bids over a fixed reserve. It cut the queues but proved unpopular with clients. The cover piece of the exhibition, a Hongwu period ewer decorated in underglaze copper red, was sold to Mr Matsuoka of Tokyo.
This horse, which may be considered among the finest in existence, was sold to the British Rail Pension Fund in 1978. Eleven years later, having been kidnapped and held to ransom, it was sold by the Fund for a hammer price of £3.4m, probably earning for the Fund the highest return, in percentage terms, of all the artworks in its portfolio.
1985 marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of Eskenazi Ltd. and was celebrated with an exhibition highlighting the strengths of the gallery over the previous quarter century. The exhibition of Chinese bronzes, ceramics, jades and early works of art was selected for the rarity of the items and their exceptional quality, acquired by Eskenazi over a period of ten years mainly from private collections and held aside for this event. A highlight of this exhibition was a stunning you, a wine vessel or bucket with a handle, which dates back to the Shang dynasty.
Exhibition of inlaid bronze and related material from pre-Tang China. One of the most groundbreaking of all Eskenazi's exhibitions, it featured a wealth of inlaid material that had probably not been assembled in such quality since before World War Two. Many of the items in the exhibition now form part of the permanent collection of the Miho Museum in Shigaraki, Japan.
Giuseppe's son Daniel joins the company. In the same year, the firm moves to magnificent new premises at 10 Clifford Street, which it had acquired some eighteen months previously; the previous tenants had included a shirt maker, a boot maker, a once fashionable restaurant club and contemporary art dealers. The warren of offices was cleared away to create a much-praised design by Jon Bannenberg, in association with the architects M.R. Partnership, that incorporated generous exhibition space, hundreds of metres of shelving for the ever expanding reference library, a boardroom, strongrooms and a large facility for archive storage.
In March 1997, Eskenazi Ltd. held its first ever exhibition outside London, in New York, largely at the prompting of Daniel. It proved wildly successful and sold out completely. This is now an annual Spring event.
In millennium year the gallery celebrated, not only the new century but also the 40th anniversary of the opening of the gallery in London, with a remarkable exhibition entitled 'Masterpieces from Ancient China' which focused on ten superb works of art, mostly bronzes, dating from the Shang to the Western Han period, shown in both New York and London. The exhibition cemented the high repute in which the company is held worldwide.
This year, unusually, the London exhibition consisted of only two items - two large porcelain jars decorated with fish. The earliest, of Yuan date, is painted in underglaze blue with four types of fish swimming amongst aquatic plants. Only one other example appears to be known and is in the Brooklyn Museum, New York. The second vase, some two hundred years later in date, Jiajing mark and period 1522-1566, is much more colourful, incorporating overlgaze enamels in red yellow and green typical of the period.
2006 and 2007 broke new ground by exhibiting the works of two contemporary ink painters, Arnold Chang and Li Huayi. Both have been recently represented (November 2010) in 'Fresh Ink', an innovative exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
2010 saw the Golden Jubilee of the founding of Eskenazi Limited and the occasion was marked by the ‘Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition: Twelve Masterworks’, the 74th since the Inaugural Exhibition in 1972. Twelve pieces were selected for their rarity, quality and outstanding beauty in a range of materials, amongst them a Western Zhou bronze wine vessel and cover, hu, from the 10th - 9th century BC; a Han dynasty gold kneeling figure of a shaman; a 3rd century BC glazed stone-paste ear-cup and a rare porcelain vase enamelled with a pair of dragons from the Yongzheng (1723 - 1735) period.
2011 saw the first catalogue by Eskenazi devoted to classical Chinese furniture from the 16th to the 18th centuries from a private South African collection, although it was preceded by an earlier exhibition of huanghuali furniture in 2000.
A Dealer’s Hand, The Chinese Art World through the Eyes of Giuseppe Eskenazi, was published in 2012. Covering the five decades of Giuseppe’s life as a key player in the art world and illustrated with over 500 of the most important pieces handled in his career, the volume also provides a fascinating insight into the rapidly changing Chinese art market.
The 2012 November exhibition was the first entirely dedicated to Qing porcelain. Twenty pieces of imperial porcelain from one private collection were exhibited, one of the highlights being a famille rose ruby-ground pear-shaped vase from the Qianlong (1736 - 1795) period.
‘Junyao’ was the first exhibition by the company devoted entirely to one ware - Jun, with sixteen objects illustrating the development of the kiln from the Northern Song up to the early Ming period. Many of the vessels had been in the collections of distinguished figures including Lord Cunliffe, Mr and Mrs Brodie Lodge, Dr Arthur Sackler and Martine de Béhague, Comtesse de Béarn. Included was a lavender-blue flowerpot made for the Ming courts and inscribed in the eighteenth century with its designated location within the Forbidden City.
The world's most respected dealers in Chinese and Oriental art, is based in Mayfair, London W1, in a specially designed six-floor building. Two floors are dedicated solely to showing the best Chinese art available on the market today.
10 Clifford Street, London W1S 2LJ
TEL: +44 (0) 20 7493 5464
FAX: +44 (0) 20 7499 3136
Monday to Friday 9:30 - 5:30
During EXHIBITION: Saturday 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
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