WHEELING AND DEALING: Lennox Cato will officially open SOLD! The Great British Antiques Story at The Bowes Museum
WHEELING AND DEALING: Lennox Cato will officially open SOLD! The Great British Antiques Story at The Bowes Museum

WITH television antiques programmes continuing to enjoy huge popularity, a new exhibition is being unveiled this week looking into 200 years of wheeling and dealing.

SOLD! The Great British Antiques Story will be officially opened at The Bowes Museum, today, Friday, January 25, by TV presenter and dealer Lennox Cato.

This show, which runs until May, 5, will take visitors on a journey through antique dealing from Dickens to Lovejoy.

It’s the first time the history of the trade has been the subject of an exhibition in a museum, with an in depth look at antique dealers, their taste and eye for objects, their shops and practices.

SOLD! tells the back story of 33 stunning internationally renowned objects, some loaned by major museums including The V&A, The British Museum, The National Gallery, The Royal Collection, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Preston Park, Temple Newsam, The Royal Armouries, previously unseen objects on loan from private collectors and items from the museum’s own collections.

Visitors will be able to peer through the windows of an Old Curiosity Shop from the 1850’s, showing what an antique was in the 19th century compared to what one is today.

Guest curator Dr Mark Westgarth, of the University of Leeds, said: “SOLD! gives a rare insight into the world of antique dealing and tells the intriguing story of the objects before they were housed in museums.

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“It looks at the relationships between the art market and museums, including some of the more controversial practices of the trade such as auction ‘rings’ and, of course, fakes.”

Jane Whittaker, head of collections at The Bowes Museum, added: “It’s really special that the museum is the first place to hold an exhibition dedicated to the history of the antique trade.

“Our founders, John and Joséphine Bowes, sourced much of their collection from dealers throughout Europe so I believe they would have been delighted that their museum is hosting this pioneering show, featuring their finds alongside many breathtaking objects, including an exquisitely beautiful Ming dynasty bowl on loan from The British Museum.”

There will be a series of events and talks held alongside the exhibition starting with Lennox Cato in conversation with SOLD! curator Mark Westgarth at 11am on Saturday, January 26, about his life as an antique dealer and TV antiques specialist.

There will be exhibition tours at 2.15pm on February 5 and 21; March 5 and 21; April 4 and May 2, which will last for about 20 minutes.

There will also be an art-market themed Game-A-Thon, with prizes for winners, at 2.15pm on Saturday, March 9, where visitors can unleash their inner antique dealer playing vintage games such as Swindle, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow and Modigliani.

For more information go to thebowesmuseum.org.uk.