Around the galleries
Master Paintings Week and Master Drawings London return to the UK capital in June, while Dickinson hosts the first major Carlo Labruzzi exhibition in half a century and Alexander Calder delights at Crane Kalman.
Monique Kent, Friday, 1st June 2012
London comes alive this month with a wealth of fairs and shows opening across the capital. Masterpiece offers an array of works at the Royal Hospital Chelsea (28 June–4 July; www.masterpiecefair.com), including, alongside the objets d’art, Chinese porcelain, vintage cars and a fine selection of Old Masters (see preview on pp. 36–38). Running more or less concurrently is Master Paintings Week (29 June–6 July; www.masterpaintingsweek.co.uk), which showcases an outstanding selection of European paintings dating from the 15th century onwards. Now in its fourth edition, 23 leading dealers and three auction houses present works throughout Mayfair, St James’ and Kensington. In addition, several of this year’s participants are offering summer exhibitions to coincide with the event.
Newly relocated to St James’, Moretti Fine Art offers an exceptional work, Virgin and Child with the Young Saint John (c. 1630), by the 17th-century Florentine artist Lorenzo Lippi. This domestic family scene would have been intended for private devotion within a bedroom or private chapel. The lively narrative style and the emotionally charged rendering of the young Christ and Saint John demonstrate Lippi’s influence by his master Matteo Rosselli, and suggest that the painting dates to the middle of the 1630s.
In Mayfair, Robilant + Voena presents a similar, but slightly later, devotional scene by Andrea Solario, a pupil of Leonardo in Milan.
Virgin and Child with a Saint (Fig. 1) is indebted to Leonardo’s Madonna Litta in both its theme of the Madonna suckling the infant Jesus, and its gentle style. In the background we see a male figure leaning on a long staff, who has been variously identified as the early 14th-century pilgrim St Roch, St Christopher, the patron saint of wayfarers, and Joseph. His caricatured, naturalistic face contrasts with the idealised and classical features of the Virgin and Child, and is another compositional technique adopted from Leonardo. This painting is part of Robilant + Voena’s ‘Foppa, Zenale and Luini: Lombard Painters Before and After Leonardo’ (20 June–17 August), which explores the artistic milieu of Lombardy in the decades between c. 1470 and 1530. The earliest piece on display in this exhibition of museum-quality works, which form part of the collection of PKB Privatbank, Lugano, is a rare panel depicting St Peter by Vincenzo Foppa, datable to the 1460s.
The 12th edition of Master Drawings London (27 June–5 July; www.masterdrawingsinlondon.co.uk) offers seven centuries of works on paper from the Renaissance to the present day. The fair has been brought forward to coincide with Master Paintings Week and the 20th-century auctions at the end of June, as well as the Old Master sales in July. Specialists from London, New York, Düsseldorf, Zurich and Madrid present works in co-ordinating exhibitions in galleries throughout the West End.
Munich-based participant Katrin Bellinger is to be found at Colnaghi on Old Bond Street, show-casing a beautiful red chalk study entitled La laitière normande (1849–50), by Jean-François Millet. The drawing, which led to a small painting also of the same name, was executed by Millet while returning from the fields, and reveals the artist’s determination to capture the gestures and strains that shape the human figure at work.
Stephen Ongpin Fine Art, meanwhile, unveils Picasso’s Femme nue se coiffant (Fig. 2). Dating from the final phase of the artist’s Rose Period, it is believed that this drawing was executed in 1906, during Picasso’s summer stay in the remote Spanish village of Gósol with his mistress Fernande Olivier.
With collectors descending on London, an abundance of top-notch exhibitions takes place across the capital. The Fleming Collection opens its doors to fine art consultancy Chester Collections, which presents in turn ‘French Naturalist Painters: 1890–1950’ from 12 June to 7 July (13 Berkeley Street; +44 (0) 20 7042 5730). Bringing together 80 oil paintings by eight landscape painters, the exhibition explores the intimate link between art and nature. Gaston Balande’s Camping, an oil dated 1934, is one of the show’s highlights.
One is transported back to the Grand Tour at Dickinson (58 Jermyn Street; +44 (0) 20 7493 0340), with works on paper by the Italian painter, draughtsman and engraver, Carlo Labruzzi. Curated by Sir Timothy Clifford, former director of the National Galleries of Scotland, this is the first Labruzzi exhibition in London since 1960, and runs from 12 June to 13 July. Consisting of more than 40 drawings and watercolours of Rome, Naples and other Italian views, the show includes Scene in Rimini with the Arch of Augustus (Fig. 3).
Nearby, Osborne Samuel opens its annual modern British Art exhibition from 13 June to 1 September (23a Bruton Street; +44 (0) 20 7493 7939), a series which has been running every summer for the last 14 years. Bronze sculptures
by Henry Moore and Lynn Chadwick accompany paintings by John Craxton, Ben Nicholson and Prunella Clough. Among the 20th-century works on display is Peter Kinley’s Single Figure of around 1963, an elegant, minimal oil that reveals the artist’s transition towards his flatter and more simplified figure painting of the late 1960s and beyond.
There is still time to catch ‘Calder’ at Crane Kalman Gallery (178 Brompton Road; +44 (0)20 7584 3843). The exhibition presents Alexander Calder’s colourful paintings and gouaches, featuring figurative images and geometric shapes, produced from the 1940s onwards. A number of the artist’s bold and brightly coloured tapestry designs are also on display (until 23 June).
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