Antiques fair returns to Harrogate

One of the longest ever engravings produced in the past 300 years is set to go on sale to mark the return of one of Harrogate’s most popular antique fairs.

A detail from “A Long Minuet as Danced at Bath, 1787” by artist and caricaturist Henry William Bunbury (1750 – 1811)
A detail from “A Long Minuet as Danced at Bath, 1787” by artist and caricaturist Henry William Bunbury (1750 – 1811)

The Pavilions of Harrogate Decorative Antiques & Fine Art Fair, run by Cooper Events, is returning to the The Great Yorkshire Showground in June, more than a year after the last event.

And to mark the occasion they have put together a sale featuring stunning unique items - among them the 18th century engraving measures more than seven feet in length and is a famous work of social commentary by the artist and caricaturist Henry William Bunbury (1750 – 1811).

It was engraved and published by William Dickinson in 1787 and is one of few surviving originals.

A large Japanese Meiji Period table cabinet with superb quality lacquer panels decorated all sides, c1880.

The engraving is titled “A Long Minuet as Danced at Bath, 1787” and features drawings of ten caricatured couples engaged in various stages of dance poses.

Recent research has revealed that the lampooned figures are based on actual prominent people from the city of Bath at that time.

They include the master of ceremonies, Richard Tyson, the ex-Prime Minister Lord North, his wife and daughter, the Mayor and Mayoress of Bath, French financiers, Bunbury’s wife, Catherine (nee Horneck, a lady in waiting to the Queen) and the artist himself seemingly bowing to his audience.

Their exaggerated flamboyance in attempting a difficult dance, the minuet, is a social comment on their status as members of the Noveau Riche of the period.

The fair first ran at the Pavilions of Harrogate in the early 1990’s

The comic strip drawings suggest that the minuet will act as a filter for class identity.

The engraving will go on sale with a ticket price of £7,000 from exhibitors WR Harvey Antiques from Oxfordshire.

Fair organiser Sue Ede said: “We are delighted to be returning to Yorkshire and the Pavilions of Harrogate to stage our usual antiques fair. More than forty specialist dealers will be taking part and I know many collectors are really looking forward to viewing and buying a whole range of art and antiques once again.

“Of course, when we return, all the necessary rules and regulations will be in place to ensure we are complying with the latest guidelines in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

A glass work by Bobbie Coleman

The fair is widely regarded as one of the premier events in Yorkshire. It first ran at the Pavilions of Harrogate in the early 1990’s and has been a regular fixture ever since, attracting collectors from across the country and far beyond.

With a vast range of high-quality pieces for sale, at prices from £20 to £20,000, the fair has something for everyone.

Several Yorkshire dealers always take part, including several from Harrogate, and the event brings together many dealers from the north of England. Jack Shaw and Highland antiques sells fine English and Scottish silver; John Newton Antiques specialises in fine porcelain and studio pottery; Melody Antiques offer English country furniture and JC Antiques has oil paintings and fine furniture.

From Harrogate, Sutcliffe Galleries and Walker Galleries show fine paintings, From Ludlow, Rowles Fine Art offer paintings and sculpture; and from Gloucestershire, Paul Burnett Antiques & Interiors show a range of decorative furnishings and unusual collector’s items.

These 'snuffers' are among the items on sale.

Also showing will be the jewellery specialists Plaza and Shapiro & Co; and porcelain specialists Bottlebrook Antiques.

To find out more about the event, click here.

The fair has a vast range of high-quality pieces for sale and attracts collectors from across the country.