JOURNEYS TO THE PIMLICO ROAD
For almost 40 years the name Ross Hamilton has graced the Pimlico Road, that ever self-reinventing, glittering hub of the London antiques market. Ross was a sassy dandified sharp-tongued Australian lad who was lured to still-swinging London by David Hicks, the chicest decorator and designer of those days. For a year or more he worked with Hicks but his bent was always towards the antique world and soon he was working in Ruth Sheradski's Loot, a lively business that nurtured young dealers, opened many eyes to a wider spectrum of objects to relish, unconventional, creative and thriving. Within a year or two he learned enough, raised enough, to start his own business, offering a mix of English, French and Oriental treasures, brave conjunctions of the sober and the exuberant, sparking the ladies of Belgravia and Chelsea, Manhattan and Beverly Hills to a more exotic look.
Mark Boyce joined him in 1978, another son of Empire, but from East Africa and nurtured in England, gentler, calmer, younger, subtly tempering Ross's occasional histrionics and helping to make the business grow and flourish, very soon indispensable. Thus it was easier for Ross to make buying trips abroad, especially after he'd bought his retreat among the olive groves of the Luberon. It was a fruitful and happy meeting of complementary beings and worked well but Ross sickened and, after a long illness bravely born, died. It was natural that Mark should take on the business which he'd helped to run for years and he carried on a calm and soothing oasis in volatile Pimlico, outlasting Bennison, Hodsoll, two Hobbses, Loot and many others.
Mark's friendly mix of the European past and the timeless Orient, built around an intoxicating blend of objects from the trade routes of Canton and Ceylon, attracted numerous admirers including Rudolf Nureyev, Bill Blass, Richard Gere, Elton John and Princess Lee Radziwell, and the respected decorators David Mlinaric, Jed Johnson, Mark Hampton and Chester Jones; a look that has lasted many lifetimes and will run and run again.
For many years Mark has also been the invisible orchestrator of the Pimlico Road Association; his diplomatic skills, his kindness, patience and courtesy bringing together the disparate crew of local dealers for street parties where wine flows, worlds collide, and organising a website that presents the wondrous range of objects for sale; a private mastermind of Pimlico's public persona.
Now on offer are all manner of delights from his stock. I single out a few stars: Roger Fry paints the Mont Sainte Victoire, Cedric Morris, a wall of flowers and Roestraten, a still life of treasures from the east. There is a Russian Campaign desk for a foppish warrior, a Regency vide poche centred with a mighty Imari charger, a lacquer coffer from 17th Century Japan and enough bronze and ormolu to bring glitter and glamour to many a Belgravia chimney piece - and overall, the frowning glance of an 18th Century Oliver Cromwell, warts and all, in white marble.