Personal Space: William MacKinnon
October 1, 2012
Photo credit: Lucas Finlay
1. A 16th-century church in Valletta was bombed to rubble during World War II, but its chandeliers were mostly saved. MacKinnon procured this example from a private collector in Malta and reassembled the 18th-century cut-crystal specimen working from photos. Nearby: a 17th-century Duchess of Richmond presides over the staircase, an oil painting from the school of Van Dyck that MacKinnon acquired 40 years ago in Scotland.
2. MacKinnon lives above his by-appointment-only antiques store, the Three Centuries Shop, near Granville Island. (He throws garden parties on the 30-metre-long rooftop, which features a bronze statue of Zeus.) Display space below flows into a private suite via this finely wrought staircase, modelled after one in a Belle Époque "hôtel particular" in Paris, now the Musée Jacquemart-André.
3. MacKinnon says new homeowners from Asia have a special interest in antique clocks—and that’s influenced the focus of his Vancouver store, which he opened in 1993 after a dozen-year run as a hobby/show dealer in Toronto. The original version of this piece, designed by the great cabinetmaker Jean-Henri Riesener, sits in the Louvre; this copy from 1879, says MacKinnon, “has bronze work that’s so fine it’s like jewellery.”
4. Atop the table: unglazed porcelain pieces like this—a hunting scene made by the Sèvres factory in the 19th century—would have been displayed in sets of five. Full sets today sell for a small fortune. MacKinnon picked this one up in Buenos Aires. The adjacent mahogany couch was made in 1795 by the influential furniture artist François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter in the Empire style; MacKinnon reupholstered it with silk from France’s Lelièvre.