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Member Monday – Oliver Forge & Brendan Lynch

Thomas Daniell, R.A. (1749-1840), The Taj Mahal at Agra, circa 1820, oil on canvas, 143 x 203 cm.

Just a couple of short weeks after Asia Week concluded in New York in March, Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch moved from their London rooms in Georgian House, where they were based for nearly a quarter century. This distinctive red-brick building, built in the 1920s, had housed many notable art dealers, collectors, artists, entrepreneurs, eccentrics, “and the occasional retired actress.” This bevy of expertise, which covered all areas of the art world, attracted visits from top curators, museum directors, collectors, scholars, and critics. Even royalty could be found from time to time walking through the elegant checkerboard marble hall. The resident art merchants and practitioners were obliged to move so that the building could become an apartment complex.  (For those who never had a chance to see their gallery in Georgian House, iGavel recorded a tour as part of a presentation by Lynch of a 12th-century Persian pottery bowl. To watch the video, click here.)

However, Forge & Lynch have now reestablished themselves just a few blocks away on the second floor at 16 Pall Mall. They are still located in St. James’s, a neighborhood of art galleries, fine restaurants, gentlemen's outfitters, and Christie’s headquarters. Among their new neighbors are the appraising firm Gurr Johns, which occupies most of the building; the British Art and Old Masters dealer Philip Mould and Company; and at ground level, Favourbrook fashion store. Across Pall Mall, which the gallery overlooks, is the notable Travellers Club, a private gentlemen’s social establishment founded in 1819 for voyagers and diplomats and just the place to go when Forge and Lynch’s Antiquities and Indian and Islamic art works have one thinking of faraway places.

L-R: Brendan Lynch, Toto, Oliver Forge, and Angus Johnson leaving Georgian House; looking ahead to their inaugural exhibition with this Egyptian Mummy Mask; up and running in their new space at 16 Pall Mall

Forge and Lynch’s new location provides office, library, and storage space, as well as regular use of the spacious adjoining exhibition room. Already in preparations is their first show “Yes, Wonderful Things” Egyptian Art from 2000-300 B.C., which will be on display July 1-8. Lynch remarked that the show is planned in celebration of the centennial of the excavation of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Accompanied by a catalogue, the exhibition will feature a large granodiorite Egyptian sphinx, circa 300 BC; an Egyptian bronze cat, circa 600 BC; and an Egyptian Mummy Mask, circa 700 BC from the collection of Thomas M. Messer, former director of the Guggenheim Museum, New York (see above).

As if all this is not activity enough, Forge & Lynch have also made several important sales recently. Drawing on their many years of expertise, in part as former directors of the Antiquities and Islamic and Indian Art departments at Sotheby’s London, and consummate scholarship and connoisseurship, the art works they offer are among the finest of their kind and the gallery frequently succeeds in placing them in the best museums and private collections.

This Company School watercolour of a breadfruit plant (Artocarpus altilis), made in Calcutta, circa 1800, is painted with opaque pigments on laid paper in exquisite detail. Formerly in a private British collection, it was made at a time of great interest in identifying and studying plant species.

Extremely rare is this extraordinary decoupage Vase with Flowers with Insects and Birds, produced in Deccan, circa 1630-40 and attributed to Mumammad Hasan. Fortunately for those of us in the New York area, these two works were sold to the Yale Center for British Art and the Metropolitan Museum, respectively. Thomas Daniell’s large-scale, timeless depiction of the Taj Mahal was formerly owned by the Royal Air Force and has now gone to a private European collection.

Brendan Lynch and Oliver Forge warmly invite visitors to London to stop by their new space (by appointment) to see the treasures on view. More information about the gallery and their upcoming exhibition of ancient Egyptian art can be found by clicking here.