Online Talks from London Art Week, March 2021

Posted in Art Market, lectures (to attend), online learning by Editor on March 14, 2021

John Carter, View of the Library at Strawberry Hill, watercolour, 23.7 × 28.8 cm, from Horace Walpole, A Description of the Villa … at Strawberry-Hill (Strawberry Hill, 1784). The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

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From the press release (via Art Daily) for this month’s Art History in Focus series:

London Art Week’s Art History in Focus
March 2021

Last October, London Art Week introduced a new series of interim online events, Art History in Focus. Another impressive line-up of insightful and lively talks is scheduled for March. All events will take place from 17.00 to 18.00 GMT.

16 March — The Female Artists, Actresses, and Playwrights of Strawberry Hill Theatricals

Introduced and moderated by Emanuela Tarizzo (Gallery Director of Tomasso Brothers Fine Art), this webinar will explore the role of female artists, actresses, and playwrights involved with theatre at Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill. The session will address illustrations of Walpole’s scandalous gothic play The Mysterious Mother by the artist Diana Beauclerk and the closet built to house them at Strawberry Hill. It will also touch on Walpole’s literary executor Mary Berry’s play Fashionable Friends, performed at Strawberry Hill with sets designed by her sister Agnes and with herself and the sculptor Anne Damer in the leading roles. Damer had a close relationship with the famous actress Eliza Farren, re-imagined in Emma Donoghue’s historical novel Life Mask.

Speakers include Judith Hawley (Professor of English, Royal Holloway, University of London), Cynthia Roman (Curator, Prints, Drawings, and Paintings, The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University), and Laura Engel (Professor of English, Duquesne University).

23 March — Medieval Women: Subjects and Makers of Art

Arranged with Sam Fogg in conjunction with their online exhibition Medieval Women: Subjects and Makers of Art (25 February – 31 March 2021), the session provides a tour of the exhibition in its gallery setting, accompanied by commentary and an in-depth look at select individual works. With Jana Gajdošová of Sam Fogg, curator of the Medieval Women exhibition, and Alexandra Gajewski FSA, reviews editor at The Burlington Magazine and from 2010 to 2015, senior researcher at the CSIC in Madrid on a European Research Council funded project called Reassessing the Roles of Women as Makers of Medieval Art and Architecture.

24 March — Dürer’s Journeys

An in-depth discussion of the much-heralded National Gallery exhibition Dürer’s Journeys: Travels of a Renaissance Artist (opening soon) with Imogen Tedbury (National Gallery), Anthony Crichton-Stuart (Agnews), and Katrin Bellinger (Collector and Founder, Tavolozza Foundation). Dr. Tedbury is the Simon Sainsbury Curatorial Fellow for Paintings before 1500 at the National Gallery, where she is currently working on Dürer’s Journeys. Katrin Bellinger began collecting in 1985 in parallel to her career as a dealer in Old Master drawings; she was a partner at Colnaghi until the Gallery was sold in 2015. Fascinated by the artistic process and the mystique surrounding it, she chose to focus on one theme of the artist at work. She is a Trustee of the National Gallery and sits on the Board of the Tate.

25 March — Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age

Amina Wright, author of a new book on Thomas Lawrence’s first twenty-five years, discusses the early works of this young prodigy with LAW dealers Lowell Libson (Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd) and Ben Elwes (Ben Elwes Fine Art). Both galleries have recently handled early works by Lawrence that will feature in a forthcoming online exhibition at the website of the Holburne Museum in Bath entitled Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age. Registrants to this talk can benefit from a discount on the book of the same title written by Amina Wright (Philip Wilson Publishers).

29 March — The Impact of the 20th Century on Women Artists

Florrie Evans and Jo Baring discuss the views and barriers surrounding women artists in 20th-century Britain. In 1955 a review in The Times described Elisabeth Frink’s first solo show as “Here is a sculptor of rare promise, indeed of rare quality, for Miss Frink’s handling of the problems of sculptural form is such that one has to make no allowances for her youth, or her sex.” This will be a reference point for the talk in which Jo will focus on women sculptors in particular, and Florrie will look at some of the key female artists handled by The Fine Art Society.

London Art Week, 1–16 July 2021

London Art Week will take place as a dual aspect event: online in a digital format, allowing participants from across the globe to take part, and as physical exhibitions in galleries as local guidelines allow.

A new introduction to LAW Digital Summer 2021 will be Revolution and Renewal, an online themed exhibition. London Art Week is delighted to welcome as guest curator the art historian, curator, and scholar Arturo Galansino, Director General of the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. Well-known among the London Art Week community, Dr. Galansino has been invited to curate this special exhibition by the LAW Board who have long admired his exceptional track record in curating and co-curating incredible shows spanning Old Masters to contemporary art: from Moroni, Giorgione and Rubens at the Royal Academy to Ai Weiwei, Bill Viola and Marina Abramović at the Palazzo Strozzi. “It will be interesting to see what thread, narrow or broad, he weaves from the submitted works to Revolution and Renewal,” comments Amelia Higgins, Director, London Art Week.

“The online exhibition will have its own section on the LAW website,” explains Luce Garrigues, Director, London Art Week Digital, “and all participants will be invited to submit a work on the theme for consideration by Dr. Galansino. As a collegial, curator-led exhibition, Arturo will select his highlights and write his own introduction on the theme. To give our dealers greater voice, we will be asking each participant to explain why they submit their chosen work.”

Exhibition | Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 14, 2021

From The Holburne Museum:

Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 9 January — 3 May 2021 (currently closed)

When he arrived in Bath in 1780, aged just eleven, Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830) was already being hailed as a prodigy in the mould of Renaissance masters such as Raphael, Dürer, and Michelangelo. The Holburne Museum’s new exhibition, Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age, focuses on works made when the artist was between the ages of ten and twenty-two, giving visitors fresh insights into the early development of one of Britain’s greatest portrait painters and the range of his uniquely prodigious talent. The show includes some of Lawrence’s earliest and most brilliant works in pencil, pastel, and oil—several of which have been rarely seen in public.

When the Royal Academy’s 22nd annual exhibition opened in April 1790, its most sensational paintings included twelve portraits by Lawrence. Visitors and critics could scarcely believe that the artist was only 20 (he was due to celebrate his 21st birthday the following week); in fact, one reviewer published Lawrence’s birth certificate to prove that the creator of several of the exhibition’s most outstanding and original works had yet to come of age.

The Holburne exhibition presents fifteen works, following the future President of the Royal Academy over a period of twelve years, from childhood to his early-twenties. Seven of these years were spent in Bath, where he learned the professional skills of a portrait painter, and five in London where, despite his youth, he produced some of his most brilliant and memorable work. The show begins in 1779 as Lawrence, the Bristol-born son of an innkeeper from Devizes in Wiltshire, makes his debut as a child prodigy in Oxford. It follows him to the competitive and colourful world of Bath, where he made friends with actors such as David Garrick and writers, including the famed diarist Fanny Burney, and other influential patrons. Bath being Bath, his sitters included some of the most famous and glamorous members of British high society, including the legendary Georgiana Spencer, later Duchess of Devonshire, whose 1782 pastel on paper portrait has been kindly loaned to the exhibition by the Chatsworth House Trust. The story ends in the early 1790s shortly before his election as a full member of the Royal Academy, aged 25.

Thomas Lawrence, Head of Minerva, 1779, pencil drawing (Private Collection).

Lawrence had demonstrated an aptitude for sketching when he was around the age of four and had begun producing saleable work aged six. It is known from the few surviving early portraits that he began working in graphite pencil, drawing quick, small-scale head and shoulder profiles on vellum. Coming of Age features several such portraits: the earliest, a Head of Minerva (private collection) made in 1779 during his brief sojourn in Oxford; an accomplished and imaginative profile portrait of his sister Anne (British Museum), drawn in 1781; and a sketch of his cousin, Miss Hammond (British Museum), made in the same year, vividly capturing the young girl’s character and energy.

The artist’s father, recognising his son’s artistic gifts, had taken Thomas to Oxford and London on something of a promotional tour. It was in the capital that Lawrence met the preeminent English painter and President of the Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds, who is said to have pronounced the youngster as his successor and, according to Fanny Burney’s account from 1780: “The most promising genius he had ever met with.”

Lawrence’s father was declared bankrupt in 1779, and the family relocated to Bath, a thriving city with a wealthy and fashionable society, which would afford the putative artist ample opportunity to demonstrate his skills and make money.

Near the time of his eighteenth birthday, Lawrence moved to London where, despite his youth, he produced some of his most brilliant and memorable work, a fine example of which is the Holburne’s own preparatory sketch for a portrait (now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), of Arthur Atherley (1791). Five years after leaving Bath, Lawrence exhibited his final three-quarter-length portrait of Arthur Atherley at the Royal Academy. At the time, he was just three years older than his nineteen-year-old sitter, who had recently left Eton College. The Holburne portrait of Atherley is both striking and memorable, showing the determined the youngster as he launches into the adult world.

Thomas Lawrence, Portrait of Elizabeth Carter, pastel on vellum, ca. 1788–89, 35 × 30 cm (London: National Portrait Gallery).

Coming of Age charts Lawrence’s development as an artist, showing his use of different materials and burgeoning technical craft. As his ability in oil and chalk grew, he gradually abandoned pastel portraits. His last and best head in crayons is a likeness of the elderly classical scholar Elizabeth Carter (ca. 1788–89, National Portrait Gallery). Carter was renowned as a woman of exceptional intellectual powers and also possessed great warmth as a person, which Lawrence’s portrait evokes, revealing her combination of the cerebral and the grandmotherly, deftly using pastel to convey the soft plumpness of her face and the elaborately trimmed and starched cap, while her thoughtful expression suggests a mind tuned to higher things.

The Holburne’s Director, Chris Stephens, says: “Thomas Lawrence did as much as any other artist, before or after him, to define the age in which he lived. The Holburne is renowned for celebrating local creativity and bringing the best of world art to the region, and this is perfectly encapsulated in the study of Thomas Lawrence’s youthful works, a true Bath story. He is our very own answer to Raphael. The exhibition was inspired by our acquisition of one of Lawrence’s greatest works, his Portrait of Arthur Atherley, 1791. It is one of a number of portraits by Lawrence of young men, and women, in their late teens, on the cusp of adulthood. This is, perhaps, a unique phenomenon of an artist portraying young adulthood when he was, himself, not much older than the sitters. It is around this idea of young people facing a rite of passage, confronting the hopes and fears of leaving adolescence for adulthood, that we find some of the contemporary resonances in Lawrence’s art.”

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Amina Wright, Thomas Lawrence: Coming of Age (London: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2021), 112 pages, ISBN: 978-1781300947, £18.



1  Portrait of the Artist as a Young Prodigy
2  Striking Likenesses
3  Old Masters and New Horizons
4  Risking my Reputation
5  The Most Hazardous Step
6  Gleams of Power

Select Bibliography
Image Credits

Exhibition | Canaletto: Painting Venice

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on March 14, 2021

Canaletto, Grand Canal looking East from Palazzo Bembo to Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi, 1733–36
(Woburn Abbey Collection)

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From The Holburne Museum:

Canaletto: Painting Venice
The Holburne Museum, Bath, 22 January — 5 September 2021
National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 1 April — 25 September 2022

In 2021, the Holburne Museum in Bath will present the most important set of paintings of Venice by Canaletto (1697–1768), which will leave their home at Woburn Abbey—one of world’s most important private art collections—for the first time in more than 70 years. This once in a lifetime exhibition will enable art lovers to enjoy and study up-close twenty-three beautiful paintings, in a fascinating exhibition that also explores Canaletto’s life and work, alongside themes of 18th-century Venice and the Grand Tour. This is one of the rare occasions that any of the successive Dukes of Bedford and Trustees of the Bedford Estates have lent the set of paintings since they arrived in Britain from Canaletto in the 1730s.

The pictures were commissioned by the 4th Duke of Bedford, who was evidently attracted by Canaletto’s burgeoning reputation for producing precise and atmospheric views of the Italian city’s most iconic views and landmarks. The Duke, then Lord John Russell, was in Venice on the Grand Tour in 1731, and presumably met Joseph Smith, Canaletto’s newly appointed agent, who was a Venetian resident and later British consul there. Three bills from Smith to the Duke survive in the family papers; dated 1733, 1735, and 1736, they add up to just over £188 (about £16,000 today), and must be incomplete, judging from what we know of the prices Canaletto commanded.

Created over a four-year period, when the artist was at the pinnacle of his career, the Woburn Abbey paintings are the largest set of paintings that Canaletto ever produced, and much the largest that has remained together. The Holburne exhibition provides a unique and unprecedented opportunity to see these exceptional paintings at viewing height, as they normally hang three high in the setting in the Dining Room they have occupied at Woburn since the late eighteenth century. The set features not only classic views of the Grand Canal and the Piazza S. Marco but also some of the city’s less well-known nooks and crannies, rarely captured by other artists and revealing new historical and cultural perspectives on Venice in its last decades as the ‘most serene Republic’.

Combining both his eye for accuracy and composition, Canaletto: Painting Venice celebrates some of La Serenissima’s most recognisable views, whilst also referring to the city’s historical importance as a trading centre, not least with the Ottoman Empire and other eastern nations.

To complement the show, the Holburne will also host Precious and Rare: Islamic Metalwork from The Courtauld, an exhibition of ten highlights from The Courtauld’s world-class collection of medieval Islamic metalwork. This exceptional group of objects date from the 13th to the 16th centuries and are some of the finest examples of this intricate craft from the Middle East. The most spectacular piece in the show is the Courtauld Bag, made in Mosul (present-day northern Iraq) in around 1300-30 for a noble lady of the Persian-Mongol court. It is recognised as one of the finest pieces of Islamic inlaid metalwork in existence and the only surviving object of its kind. The display will also include two Venetian artefacts, a dish with arms of the Giustiniani or Sagredo families (ca. 1530–50) and a pair of candlesticks (early 16th century), exploring the role of Venice as a pivotal juncture between the East and West.

“Woburn Abbey is currently undergoing its biggest refurbishment since it first opened to the public in 1955. The renovations have therefore provided an ideal opportunity for The Duke and Duchess of Bedford generously to share a selection of Woburn’s greatest treasures with a wider audience, so they can be enjoyed in a different context with new narratives,” explains the Holburne’s Director, Chris Stephens. “We are honoured that this wonderful, unrivalled set of Canaletto paintings will come to the Holburne, the perfect setting for visitors to study the paintings closely in way that has never been possible before. It is very exciting to think that they are leaving the dining room in Woburn Abbey for the first time in more than 70 years.”

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Note (added 5 July 2022) — The posting was updated to include Greenwich as a venue.


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