21 August 2014

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Event review: Masterpiece London


Team V&E were just two of 34,000 guests to attend the eight-day art and antiques fair, Masterpiece London. We popped over to Chelsea for lunch at its Le Caprice pop-up and ogled over £1bn worth of modern art and ancient artefacts.

Words: Heather Steele

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Arriving at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, it felt like we were about to enter a museum, rather than a marquee. An impressive temporary structure had been supplied by Neptunus and from the road its façade looked like a real red-brick building, complete with red carpet to greet us.

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Indoors, the stands were spread below high-arched ceilings, the lighting tailored to each exhibitor. There was air conditioning, carpets and wooden floors throughout. This was no ordinary marquee.

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Work had also gone into the restaurant offerings. Urban Caprice recreated The Mount Street Deli, The Ivy (complete with jazz pianist and trailing ivy), Scott’s and Le Caprice.

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We scoffed seafood ceviche, crisp barbecued pork belly and Asian slaw, a crispy duck and watermelon salad, and a crème brûlée. Both the food and the service were faultless. Shame it wasn’t a nicer day, though: the outdoor terrace, overlooking the grounds of the Royal Hospital would have benefitted from a few rays.

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As well as Urban Caprice’s replica restaurants, we enjoyed admiring the wealth of unaffordable art: the turquoise Riva speedboat, Peter Harrington’s collection of rare books, the armour at Charles Ede (we’re big Game of Thrones fans) and the most stunning piano we’ve ever seen at the Based Upon stand.

The best bit: people watching. Besides the well-heeled arty types, we spotted celebs such as Dr Christian from Embarrassing Bodies. More high-profile guests across the eight days included the likes of Anna Wintour, Jasper Conran and Uma Thurman.

Room for improvement: a good addition would have been a gift shop, for those without a spare £10k, to buy postcards rather than paintings.

Sponsors: Urban Caprice, Ruinart Champagne, Uniqa, Quintessentially, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Sotherby’s and de Gournay.

Masterpiece London: The South Grounds, the Royal Hospital, Royal Hospital Road, London, SW3 4SR.

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