Design & Decoration S03 ep11 : Rupert Wace, Wace Antiques, [UK]
Interview with Rupert Wace
Rupert Wace has been dealing in Antiquities for over 30 years. The gallery specialises in Egyptian, Classical, Near Eastern and European works of art from Prehistoric times up until the end of the first millenium A.D. It is situated in the centre of London´s art dealing district, at 14 Old Bond Street. Our international clients include private collectors, other dealers and Museums such as The British Museum, The Ashmolean, Oxford, The Metropolitan Museum of Art N.Y., The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio as well as various European museums. Each year we regularly exhibit at three major Art Fairs. Winter Antiques Show, New York; The Grosvenor house Art and Antiques fair, London; and Cultura, Basel."
Rupert Wace ancient art is the business that I started 25 years ago and we specialise in ancient
Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mediterranean based antiquities.
I did literally fall into it. The seed might have been sown when I was at school the Blackfield just
outside Marlborough where there’s obviously been a Roman civilisation and every year after the
farmer had ploughed the field you could go and find some worthless really ancient Roman coins.
It has a history of Bronze Age artefacts particularly the likes of Stonehenge and Silbery Hill and
West Kennett Longbarrow and Avebury were all the places that I used to be able to bicycle to from
My approach to it was more of a hobby really than a career, it wasn’t until I actually started
working at one of the major auction houses that I realised that there were sales of archaeological
things and my interest in ancient history and history of art led me to fall into the world of
antiquities. I started as a porter. It was initially with Sotheby’s and then with Christies.
It was a great experience both in sort of understanding the business in general specifically with
antiquities, you saw a lot of material, good and bad.
Someone I knew had started a business dealing in antiquities and they came to me at Christies and
said would you like to join us and we’ll pay you a bit more, which wasn’t very difficult when it
was against Christies’ salary.
The regulations that are now in force, the whole provenance issue, it always was important but it’s
sort of fundamental now. There is more awareness and there is more access to information you
know which is modern communication system, internet for example.
There’s a big thrill in it still in being able to find things that have sort of lost their history or lost
their importance. An ancient Sardinian bronze that I found in a small provincial sale in England a
year or so again which the auction didn’t know what it was at all and I was able to know what it
was and buy it not quite for the 40 to 60 pound estimate it had and then I was able to go back via
the auction house to the descendents of the owner and then find out that it had been owned by a
friend of Oscar Wilde’s and it had a great history and it was just a wonderful bronze.
I have a very strong collecting instinct that I can’t afford. My way of dealing with this form of
addiction is to buy things and to sell them and I’m lucky enough to have them for a bit.
Occasionally I might take a piece home with me to enjoy it before it’s resold but in a sense I sort
of see myself as a collector with a transient collection.
We just had a sale to major museum in America, that was a piece that I would have loved to have
kept but knowing that it’s gone there and I can go and see it, is a nice feeling actually.
One of the most important things is something I have here which is an Aegean Neolithic idol from
Greece and she dates from about 4500 BC, is very beautiful, has a sort of monumentality to it
despite its’ moderate size, you know there are just very few known of this type. It was a big
bottomed girl, it was all part of the mother/goddess the fertility and the, that’s what we think, we
don’t really know you know, we don’t really know what turned them on. Dates to about 2000 years
prior to the sort of stereotype syclatic art which we all know from the Gallandrous Museum.
It’s no coincidence that the likes of Picasso and Modelliani and Henry Moore you know collected
these things, they were big, they were inspired by ancient art, particularly syclatic art.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Rupert Wace, Wace Antiques, UK