A & J Speelman has been established at 129 Mount Street in Mayfair, London since 1976, and as a family antiques business stretching back three generations to 19th-century Holland.
The Speelman brothers, grandfather and great uncle of the present proprietor Jules Speelman, extended into England around the turn of the century, trading in a range of antiques from premises at 180 Wardour Street, London W1. Jules Speelman’s father Alfred followed in their footsteps, and eventually established a gallery in Kensington Church Street, where he was joined by his son in 1964, at which point a gradual focus towards Asia began.
The gallery now specialises in Asian antiques, with a particular emphasis on sculpture and works of art from the past 2,000 years. The scope is eclectic and diverse, with a concentration on rarity and quality. The collections are particularly strong in Chinese works of art, as well as Chinese decorative arts covering cloisonné and Canton enamels, lacquer, ivories, soap stones, hard stones, carvings in wood, bamboo, porcelain, pottery and Chinese export ceramics and works of art.
A speciality of the firm is figurative sculpture, from the terracotta tomb figurines of the Han and Tang dynasties of the first millennia AD, to bronzes depicting figures from the Buddhist and Taoist pantheon, both gilt and ungilt, in stone, wood and stucco, of small collectible size to the large and important. Himalayan bronzes from Tibet and Nepal are particularly well represented.
The great glory and primary artistic legacy to world art from India and South East Asia is their sculptural tradition in stone and bronze. The gallery carries an important representative group in these areas, primarily from the Pala and Chola dynasties of India, and Pre Khmer and Khmer works from Cambodia, with further examples covering Central India, Kashmir and Thailand.