Adrian Sassoon

Director

Adrian Sassoon has been studying, collecting, curating and selling works of art for 40 years. In the last 25 years he has become the leading UK dealer in contemporary works of art – ceramics, glass, silver, gold, lacquer and hardstone, objects. His other professional field is French 18th century works of art: primarily in the French royal porcelain factory of Vincennes and Sèvres.

In 1980 Adrian moved aged 19 from London to work at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu for five years. He later worked for a leading antiques dealer in London and in 1992, after five years, started working as an independent art dealer.

Adrian has a deep interest in other fields including old master and later paintings, European decorative arts of the 17th and 18th centuries, Asian works of art and 20th century photography. He has worked as the art advisor to various collectors, museums and for superyacht designers and owners.

His writings include many Getty Museum publications in particular the ‘Catalogue of Vincennes and Sèvres Porcelain’ 1992 and most recently the book ‘Jewels by JAR’ to accompany the JAR exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2013. He has worked on various scholarly articles and lectured extensively.

Adrian is a trustee of the Hermitage Foundation UK, which supports the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, and a member of the International Council of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Adrian has served two terms as a trustee of the Wallace Collection, London 2008-15; served as trustee of The Silver Trust, London 2013-19, which provided a collection of contemporary British silver for the use of the Prime Minister at Number 10 Downing Street; and on the committees of the patrons groups at the Wallace Collection, Tate Britain and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Adrian would say that his interest in works of art can be best seen these days by following his Instagram postings.

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Museum Patrons Groups

  • The Victoria & Albert Museum (Friend since 1978, Patron since 1994)
  • The National Gallery, The George Beaumont Group (Member since 1996, Life Member since 2003)
  • The Patrons of The National Galleries of Scotland (since 2000)
  • Fellow of The Frick Collection, New York (since 2000)
  • The Elias Ashmole Group, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (since 2001)
  • Hero of The Wallace Collection, London (since 2002, Life Benefactor since 2007, Trustee 2007-2015)
  • The Marlay Group, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (from 2003, Committee Member 2006-2016)
  • Patron of the Holburne Museum, Bath (since 2004)
  • Patron and Trustee of the UK Friends of The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia (since 2006)
  • Member of The International Council, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (since 2017)

Memberships of Other Art Bodies

  • The National Art Collections Fund (Life Member since 1978, Patron since 2003)
  • The National Trust for England (Life Member since 1978)
  • The Furniture History Society (Member since 1978, Life Member, Council Member 2009 – )
  • The Friends of The Bowes Museum (Life Member since 1979)
  • The French Porcelain Society (Member since 1985, Treasurer 1989-95)
  • The Attingham Summer School Society (Member since 1985)
  • Previously Council Member of the Attingham Summer School 1990-95
  • Les Amis du Musée National de Céramique de Sèvres (Member since 1987)
  • The Contemporary Art Society (Member since 1987)
  • The Friends of The Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood (Life Member since 1988, Council Member 1989-93)
  • The Dining in State Research Group (Participant since 1991)
  • Friends of the National Libraries (Life Member since 1991)
  • Friends of Lambeth Palace Library (Life Member since 1992)
  • The Silver Society (Member since 1996)
  • Friends of Contemporary Ceramics, USA (Member since 1996)
  • The London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust (Member since 1996)
  • The Decorative Arts Society, London (Member since 2000)
  • The Beckford Society (Member since 1996)
  • The Society for Court Studies (Member since 1997)
  • The Georgian Group (Member since 1999)
  • Friends of The Royal Academy, London (Member since 1990, Exhibition Patrons Group Patrons Group 1999 – 2000)
  • Friends of The Courtauld Institute (since 1999)

Antique Dealer and Art Advisor, 1992 to the present

Dealing with a large and varied stock of French 18th Century Sèvres Porcelain from the modest to the grandest pieces; and in Contemporary British Studio Ceramics and Glass.

Examples of major sales from private sources to private collections include a Sèvres Dinner Service presented by Louis XVI to an English diplomat in 1787, later in the collection of George IV; a Garniture of Three Sèvres Vases of a rare hard-paste porcelain with gilt-bronze mounts attributed to Thomire forming French Royal symbols which we have now sold twice in twenty years; various documented Sèvres porcelain Vases and an almost unparalleled Sèvres porcelain Inkstand which has never been published though it matches one of the most famous pieces of Sèvres in the world.  In recent years we were able to enable private collectors to purchase an 18th century Sèvres dinner service which was given by Louis XV to the King of Sardinia in the 1770s and the Château de Versailles to purchase a large early Vincennes porcelain punch bowl made for Louis XV.

Sales to museums have included an extraordinarily rare 1730’s Crucifix of early  porcelain from the Du Paquier factory as well as Vincennes and Sèvres porcelains and major pieces of porcelain from other French factories including Chantilly and St. Cloud.

Books

Decorative Arts, A Handbook Catalogue of the Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, with Gillian Wilson, Malibu, 1986 (since re-published):
In 1983 it was decided that a complete handbook catalogue of the collection was important to produce, including both the greatest and most modest items, since full catalogues would take decades to be published. This was compiled by Adrian Sassoon, and having gone out of print a subsequent version was published including another museum department’s collection following the formula he developed.This has been a widely used catalogue, referred to by almost every author in the field.

Catalogue of Vincennes and Sèvres Porcelain in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, 1991:
This is the second volume of the Getty Museum’s main series of catalogues of the Decorative Arts Collection (there are also volumes on Mounted Oriental Porcelain, Clocks and French Textiles and Tapestries). It was published in the same period as Rosalind Savill’s 3-volume Catalogue of the Sèvres Porcelain in The Wallace Collection and Sir Geoffrey de Bellaigue’s Catalogue of The Louie XlV Service in The British Royal Collection. Much new work was carried out and published on this factory in the 1980s. A great number of pieces were bought for the Getty collection which were then published in the catalogue. Subsequently it was reviewed in Apollo, The Burlington Magazine and other academic journals.

Vincennes and Sèvres Porcelain from a European Private Collector, London, 2001:
The catalogue of a special loan exhibition curated by Adrian Sassoon at The International Ceramics Fair & Seminar in June 2001.

This catalogue is available to purchase for £3.50 (+postage). Please contact us for further information.

Articles

“New Research on a Table Stamped Bernard van Risenburgh”, The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, Malibu, 1981.
“Acquisitions Made by the Department of Decorative Arts in 1983”, (co-contributor) The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, Malibu, 1984
“Vincennes and Sèvres Porcelain Acquired by The J. Paul Getty Museum in 1984”, The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, Malibu, 1985.
“A Gout Grec Sèvres Vase in the J. Paul Getty Museum”, Melanges en souvenir d’Elisalex d’Albis, Paris, 1999
Various shorter articles on British Contemporary Ceramics and Glass, 1996-99
“Sèvres Masterpieces”, Antique Dealer and Collector Guide, London, June 2001.
“Confessions of an Eclectic Connoisseur”, Country Life, 3 June, 2004, pp. 150-152.

Formal Lectures

London, The International Ceramics Fair & Seminar:
2001; Vincennes and Sèvres Porcelain from a European Private Collection

Musée National de Céramique de Sèvres:
1985; Sèvres Porcelain in the J. Paul Getty Museum
1992; Early Vincennes Porcelain in English Collections

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne:
1988; Early Vincennes Porcelain and its connections with Chelsea

Powerhouse Museum, Sydney:
1988; French 17th and 18th Century Furniture
1988; An Introduction to Sèvres Porcelain
1989; French 18th Century Gilt Bronze
1989; Dining in State in 18th Century France

Australian Academy of Decorative Arts, Sydney:
1997; Two-day Seminar of French 18th Century Decorative Arts, Sèvres Porcelain and Dining in State

Detroit Institute of Arts:
1991; Seminar on Sèvres Porcelain
1991; Dining in State and the use of a Sèvres service

Attingham Summer School for the Study of the Country House [Council Member, 1990-1994]:
1987-1992; Lecturing on French furniture and objects in English country houses to American museum curators and other students.
Research projects since 1992 included preparation work at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire (1993), on the extensive collections of French furniture and Sèvres porcelain for their new publications.
St. Petersburg, Russia:
Seminar for Porcelain Specialists and St. Petersburg Museum curators
2005:
References to St. Petersburg court life and mechanical dining tables taken from the memoirs of Baroness Dimsdale and Countess Golovine.

Published References

Printed references citing Adrian Sassoon’s own published works:

1980
Aileen Dawson, “The Eden Service, Another Diplomatic Gift”, Apollo, April 1980, London

1983
Gillian Wilson, Selections from the Decorative Arts in The J.Paul Getty Museum, Malibu (Sèvres entries written by Adrian Sassoon)

1984
Clare Le Corbeiller in, The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1985
Pierre Ennès in, Musée du Louvre, Nouvelles acquisitions du département des objets d’art, 1980-1984, Paris

1986
Geoffrey de Bellaigue, The Louis XVI Service, London
Geoffrey de Bellaigue in J. Pierpoint Morgan, Collector, European Decorative Arts from the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford

1988
Rosalind Savill, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London

1989
Antoine d’Albis & Tamara Préaud in, Sèvres Musée National de Céramique, Nouvelles acquisitions (1979-1989), Paris
Bill G.B. Pallot, The Art of The Chair in Eighteenth-Century France, Paris
Alexandre Pradère, French Furniture Makers, The Art of the Ébéniste from Louis XlV to the Revolution, London

1990
Daniel Alcouffe in, Nouvelles acquisitions du départment des objets d’art 1985-1989, Musée du Louvre, Paris
Oliver Impey et al in, Porcelain for Palaces – The Fashion for Japan in Europe 1650-1750, [at The British Museum], Oriental Ceramic Society, London

1991
Tamara Préaud & Antoine d’Albis, La Porcelain de Vincennes, Paris
Ghenete Zelleke, From Chantilly to Sèvres: French Porcelain and The Dukes of Richmond, The French Porcelain Society

1992
Anthony du Boulay et al, Upton House, The Bearstead Collection: Porcelain, The French Porcelain Society, London
Jeffrey Munger in, The Forsyth Wickes Collection in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
John Whitehead, The French Interior in the Eighteenth Century, London

1993
Jean de Cayeux, “Le décor d’oiseaux colorés à Vincennes et à Sèvres”,  Revue de la Société des Amis du Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres, vol. 2

1994
Aileen Dawson, A Catalogue of French Porcelain in The British Museum, London
Museum Acquisitions, Revue de la Société des Amis du Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres

1995
Pierre Ennès in, Nouvelles acquisitions du départment des Objet d’art 1990-1994, Musée du Louvre, Paris

1996
Alan Phipps Darr & Clare Le Corbeiller in, The Dodge Collection of Eighteenth-Century French and English Art in The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit
Peter Hughes, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Furniture, London
Carolyn Sargentson, Merchants and Luxury Markets, The Marchands Merciers of Eighteenth-Century Paris, London
Gillian Wilson et al, European Clocks in The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

1997
Charissa Bremer-David, French Tapestries & Textiles in The J. Paul Getty Muesum, Los Angeles
Pierre Ennès, Un défi au goût, 50 ans de création à la manufacture royale de Sèvres (1740-1793), Musée du Louvre, Paris
David Peters, “Un Peintre de Meissen á Sèvres”, Sèvres – Revue de la Société des Amis du Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres
Tamara Préaud, “Sèvres and Paris Auction Sales 1800-1847”, The International Ceramics Fair & Seminar Handbook, London
David Peters, “Un peintre de Meissen à Sèvres”, Sèvres – Revue de la Société des Amis du Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres vol. 6

1998
Liana Paredes Arend in A Taste for Splendor, Russian Imperial and European Treasures from the Hillwood Museum, Alexandria VA
John Whitehead, “Les cuvettes à fleurs unies en porcelaine de Vincennes-Sèvres”, Revue de la Société des Amis du Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres
Tamara Préaud, “Retour en faveur des porcelaines tendres de Sèvres au XIXe”, Sèvres – Revue de la Société des Amis du Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres vol. 7

1999
Anthony du Boulay, French Porcelain at Uppark, a re-assessment, The French Porcelain Society, London
Gillian Wilson, Mounted Oriental Porcelain in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Alessandro Ghidoli, Il Patrimonio Artisico de Quirinale, Le Vaiselle, Milan
European Royal Tables – International Symposium Acts, Museu Nacional de Arte
Antiga, Lisbon, 12-14 December 1996, published 1999
Markus Miller, Königliches Porzellan aus Frankreich, Schloss Fasanerie, Fulda

2000
Julie Emerson in, Porcelain Stories From China To Europe, Seattle Art Museum
Linda H. Roth, French Eighteenth-Century Porcelain at the Wadsworth Atheneum, the J. Pierpoint Morgan Collection, Hartford

2000
Marie-Laure de Rochebrunne “Sept Nouveaux Vases de la Manufacture Royale de Porcelaine de Sèvres”, L’Estampille-L’Objet d’Art, no. 344, February 2000.

2001
Howard Coutts, The Art of Ceramics, European Ceramic Design, 1500-1830, Yale
Antoine d’Albis in Falconet à Sèvres, 1757-1766, ou l’art de plaire, Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres
Antoine d’Albis, “Les heureuses coïncidences qui guidèrent Vincennes vers Sèvres”, L’Estampille-L’Objet d’Art, no. 364, December 2001

2002
Rosalind Savill and Marie-Laure de Rochebrune in Madame de Pompadour et les arts, Musée National des Châteaux de Versailles et de Trianon (travelling to Munich and London)
Gillian Wilson, “Versailles au J.Paul Getty Museum”, Versalia – Revue de la Société des Amis de Versailles, vol. 5
Gillian Wilson & Catherine Hess, Summary Catalogue of European Decorative Arts in the J.Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

2002
Geoffrey de Bellaigue in, Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London, 2002

2003
Marie-Laure de Rochbrunne “Hommage à un Donateur du Louvre” in The French Porcelain Society Journal, vol. I, 2003.
Ghenete Zelleke, Gifts Beyond Measure, The Antiquarian Society and European Decorative Arts 1987-2002, The Art Institute of Chicago.
Selma Schwartz, “Chinoiserie-Dekor auf schwarzgrundigem Sèvres-Porzellan” in, Schwartz Porcelain, Museum für Lackkunst, Münster and Schloss Favorite bei Rastatt.
Natalia Kazakevich, 18th Century Sèvres Porcelain in The Hermitage, Saint-Petersburg

2005
David Peters, Sèvres Plates and Services of the 18th Century, Hertfordshire, 7 volumes.
Tamara Préaud, Porcelaines du Musée Condé à Chantilly, Paris
Peter Fuhring, Designing the Décor; French Drawings from The Eighteenth Century, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbona
Nina Birioukova & Natalia Kazakevitch, La Porcelaine de Sèvres du XVIII siècle, St. Petersburg, [text in Russian]

2006
Marie-Laure de Rochebrune, “Une marronnière en porcelain de Sèvres entre au Louvre”, La Revue du Louvre, vol 5, December 2006, pp. 52-59.

2007
Shelly Bennett et al, French Art of the Eighteenth Century at The Huntingdon, New Haven & London

2008
Katherine S. Howe et al, Rienzi – European Decorative Arts and Paintings, London and Houston
Sarah Coffin et al, Rococo – The Continuing Curve, 1730-2008, Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York
Maureen Cassidy-Geiger, The Arnhold Collection of Meissen Porcelain 1710-50, The Frick Collection, New York
Christopher Menz & Robert Reason, Empires & Splendour – The David Roche Collection, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide.
Guillaume Séret, “De quelques passages en ventes aux enchères de porcelaines de Sèvres conserves dans les collections publiques françaises”, Sèvres – Revue de la Société des Amis du Musée National de Céramique, Sèvres, vol. 17.
Stephen Harrison et al, Artistic Luxury – Fabergé, Tiffany, Lalique, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio

2009
Martina Droth et al, Taking Shape – Finding sculpture in the decorative arts, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California.
Geoffrey de Bellaigue, French Porcelain in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, London
Joanna Gwilt, French Porcelain for English Palaces, Sèvres from the Royal Collection, London
Christopher Maxwell, French Porcelain of the Eighteenth Century, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2009
Antoinette Faÿ-Hallé, “À propos de quelques porcelaines royales, acquisitions récentes du musée national de Céramique” in Mélanges offerts à Pierre Arizzoli-Clémentel, Versailles.

2015

Tamara Préaud & Guilhem Scherf, La Manufacture des Lumières; La Sculpture à Sèvres de Louis XV à la Révolution, Sèvres, Cité de la Céramique, exhibition 16 September 2015 – 18 January 2016

Sales to Museums

Apart from a broad range of private collectors several museums have purchased significant antique objects from me as well as contemporary works.

These museums include:

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  • The Frick Collection, New York
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • The Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
  • The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California
  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania
  • The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California
  • The Dallas Museum of Art
  • The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas
  • The Newark Museum, New Jersey
  • The Museum of Arts & Design, New York
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • The Museum of Decorative Arts, Montreal, Canada
  • The Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
  • The Château of Versailles, France
  • The French National Museum of Ceramics, Sèvres
  • Musée Mandet, Riom, France
  • The National Trust for England (for The Vyne)
  • The York City Art Gallery, England
  • The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (museum purchase and objects purchased by a donor)
  • The Wustum Museum of Fine Arts, Wisconsin (donated object)
  • The National Museum & Gallery of Wales, Cardiff
  • The National Museums and Galleries of Merseyside, Liverpool
  • The Victoria & Albert Museum, London
  • The Rothschild Collection, Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire (National Trust)
  • The Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
  • The Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh
  • Dundee City Museum, Scotland
  • The Aberdeen Art Gallery, Scotland
  • The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, UK
  • The Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, UK
  • Farmleigh, Dublin, Eire
  • Birmingham City Art Gallery, UK
  • The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Work Experience

Victoria & Albert Museum
London, 1979
Volunteer working on French furniture archive under John Hardy for three months in the Department of Furniture and Woodwork.

J. Paul Getty Museum
Malibu, 1980-1984
Department of Decorative Arts
Assistant Curator 1982-84 (Curatorial Assistant 1980-82)
Concerned with all aspects of curatorship, purchase, conservation, research for one of the world’s finest collections of French furniture, porcelain and objects (also German and Italian furniture) under Gillian Wilson (Curator of Decorative Arts since 1971, previously in the Furniture and Woodwork Department, Victoria & Albert Museum).

Whilst at the J. Paul Getty Museum, carried out special research projects for the late Sir Francis Watson (retired Director of the Wallace Collection and Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art). Also worked on a major project (research for the Linsky Collection catalogue) for Clare Le Corbeiller in the Decorative Arts Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Alexander & Berendt Ltd
London, 1987-1992
Director 1990-1992; (Assistant to Managing Director 1987-90)
A gallery dealing in French, German and Italian furniture, sculpture, objects and Sèvres porcelain of the highest quality only, for museums and serious collectors. Was concerned with the purchase, restoration, research and sale of the stock, as well as aspects of the management of the company.

Introduced Sèvres porcelain into this long established company and was involved in work with many objects of extremely high value which were of significant importance to their genres including furniture, gilt bronze objects, textiles, sculpture, etc…

During this period sales were made to a range of international private clients and to many museums, including:- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu; The Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg; The Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; The Detroit Institute of Art, Michigan; The Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; The Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City.

Education

Eton College, 1974-78 (including History of Art ‘A’ Level)

Inchbald School of Design, 1978/79

Christie’s Fine Arts Course, 1979/80

Attingham Summer School for the Study of the Country House, 1985

Royal Collection Studies, Attingham/Royal Collection, 1997

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