Hal Messel

Hal Messel, Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, 89-91 Pimlico Road London SW1, 3rd – 6th May 2017

Hal Messel putting the finishing touches to a candelabra
in his workshop.

It makes perfect sense that this wonderful interior design firm should host an exhibition of the distinctive works of silversmith Hal Messel as they are well-known for commissioning one-offs and bespoke designs in their long, distinguished history.  It is also a great way to celebrate London Craft Week.

A set of sterling silver and cast glass shell salt cellars.

Hal Messel, great-nephew of the celebrated stage and film designer Oliver Messel, turned from painting to silver. He was trained by Asprey silversmith Steve Wager and also by Jocelyn Burton. His love of traditional methods and great skill has led to numerous commissions on both sides of the Atlantic, including a piece presented to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. As well as finished pieces there will also be a display of Messel’s sketches, photographs of his Gloucestershire studio and works-in-progress.

Sterling silver coral and shell encrusted candelabra.

 

http://www.sibylcolefax.com

Hal Messel’s works are available through whttp://www.halmessel.com and www.whiteworksgroup.co.uk.

www.londoncraftweek.com

“Chinese Nell” and friends!

Queer British Art 1861-1967, Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1, until 1st October 2017

Solomon, Simeon 1840-1905
Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene
1864
Watercolour on paper
330 x 381 mm
Tate. Purchased 1980


I have thought long and hard about this exhibition which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act legislation in 1967 which meant partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales.

Paul Tanqueray (1905-1991)
Douglas Byng
1934
Vintage bromide print
239 x 193 mm
National Portrait Gallery
© Estate of Paul Tanqueray

Well done Tate Britain for its partnership with this year’s London Pride (Pride in London at Tate Britain, 2pm to 10pm 24th June). Given what still goes on in countries such as Chechnya we must be grateful for the passing of the act.

David Hockney
Life Painting for a Diploma
1962
Yageo Foundation
© Yageo Foundation

However, I do wonder, although admittedly progress has been made, how much things have really changed in our own multi-cultural society?  We know how differing faiths do not accept homosexuality as being right or acceptable.  Many families, whatever their ethnic background, struggle to accept a member of their family being gay. Gay people get homophobic abuse or are physically attacked for no reason other than they are “different”, even my partner and I have been hissed at in Westminster’s Edgware Road.

Angus McBean (1904-1990)
Quentin Crisp
1941
Bromide print
National Portrait Gallery (London, UK)
© Estate of Angus McBean / National Portrait Gallery, London

I recently saw a production of La Cage aux Folles at the Wimbledon Theatre.  I think the real time to celebrate acceptance and inclusion will be when LGBT people can say/sing the words from the show –

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses

– And know they don’t have to look over their shoulder. Impossible, or could we all work harder towards it?

John Craxton
Head of a Greek Sailor
1940
Oil on board
330 x 305 mm
London Borough of Camden
© Estate of John Craxton. All rights reserved, DACS 2016. Photo credit: London Borough of Camden

Among the exhibits in this somewhat politically correct exhibition is a monogrammed dressing gown that belonged to Noel Coward.  He was friends of Ian Fleming and his wife Ann and they both had houses on Jamaica.  In one of her letters Ann writes that Noel is referred to as “Chinese Nell” on the island *.  Need I say more?

Out
Keith Vaughan
Drawing of two men kissing
1958–73
Tate Archive
© DACS, The Estate of Keith Vaughan

 

*The Letters of Ann Fleming by Ann Fleming, Mark Amory (Editor), Collins Harvill, 1985

 

 

tate.org.uk

An Artistic Friendship

The Credit Suisse Exhibition: MICHELANGELO & SEBASTIANO, North Galleries, The National Gallery, London, until 25th June 2017

 

Sebastiano del Piombo, after partial designs by Michelangelo
Lamentation over the Dead Christ (Pietà), about 1512-16
Oil on poplar
248 × 190 cm
Museo Civico, Viterbo
© Comune di Viterbo

 

The North Galleries of the National Gallery provide a good background for this engaging exhibition which takes us back to Rome in the High Renaissance.  It was a time of war and religious conflict and against this the collaboration and friendship of Michelangelo (1475-1564) and Sebastiano del Piombo (1455-1547) is revealed.

Michelangelo
The Risen Christ, about 1532-3
Black chalk on paper
37.2 × 22.1 cm
Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017 (RCIN 912768)

The talented oil painter Sebastiano arrived in Rome in 1511 and became part of the city’s vibrant art scene and he soon met Michelangelo who was painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling. They became friends and were allies against Raphael (1483 – 1520) who had been called to Rome in 1508 by the Pope to undertake the redecoration of the papal apartments.

Sebastiano del Piombo
Letter from Sebastiano del Piombo in Rome to Michelangelo in Florence, 2 July 1518
© Casa Buonarroti, Florence (IX, 468)

Paintings, drawings, letters and sculptures are used to tell the story with some exceptional loans such as the Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c1512-16) which was the first joint collaboration of Sebastiano and Michelangelo. Another of their projects the Borgherini Chapel in S. Pietro in Montorio, Rome (1516–24) – which obviously could not be brought to London – has been realistically re-created using modern technology.

Michelangelo
The Entombment (or Christ being carried to his Tomb), about 1500-1
Oil on poplar
161.7 x 149.9 cm
© The National Gallery, London (NG790)

Lasting over twenty-five years the friendship ended when Michelangelo returned to Rome permanently to paint the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.  The reason for the falling out is thought to have been an argument over painting techniques – a difference which had brought them together but now drove them apart.

HRH The Prince of Wales viewing The Credit Suisse Exhibition: Michelangelo & Sebastiano on 13 March 2017
© The National Gallery, London

This is an exhibition that demands to be seen in the flesh and I warmly urge you to do so.

Michelangelo, finished by an unknown seventeenth century artist
The Risen Christ (‘The Giustiniani Christ’), 1514-15, finished in the early 17th century
Carrara marble
250 (201 without the cross) x 90 x 51 cm
Church of San Vincenzo Martire, Monastero dei Silvestrini, Bassano Romano (Viterbo)
© Photo Alessandro Vasari

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk

The Love of Books!

The Library of the Late Hubert Dingwall, Dreweatts & Bloomsbury  Auctions, 16-17 Pall Mall, St James’s, London SW1Y 5LU, Thursday, 27th April 2017

Hubert Dingwall
(Images courtesy of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions)

I think it totally appropriate that the dedicated book collecting of Hubert Dingwall (1912 – 2001) should be celebrated in this inaugural auction at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auction’s new Pall Mall saleroom.

Lot 215 – Annie R. Rentoul, Elves and Fairies, edited by Grenby Outhwaite, first edition, Melbourne & Sydney, 1916, est. £600 – £800
(Images courtesy of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions)

An Oxford graduate Dingwall started collecting books in his early 20s often browsing the booksellers’ barrows in Charing Cross Road seeking out bargains (I wish they were still there). But as collectors often do he started going to more established dealers and later became a good client of the renowned firm Maggs Bros. Ltd.

Lot 69 – Cervantes Saavedra (Miguel de) El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha,1780, est. £10,000-15,000
(Images courtesy of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions)

There are more than fifteen hundred books in the auction and estimates range from £100 – £15,000. The books were housed in every room of his Wimbledon home – excepting the kitchen and bathroom – but including two especially fitted-out cellar rooms.

Lot 223 – Gregynog Press.-Aesop. The Fables of Esope, 1932, One of 25 specially bound copies, est. £2,000-3,000
(Images courtesy of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions)

Dingwall summed his approach up saying: “I have remained to a great extent an accumulator. I think this is because I derive pleasure from so many different aspects of books. It is my hope that [I] give those of you who have not been bitten by the bibliomania bug an inkling of what interest is inherent in books above and beyond the reading matter they contain”.

 

Now is your chance to prove him right!

Lot 198 – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, one of 500 deluxe copies signed by the illustrator, 12 tipped-in colour plates by Arthur Rackham, 1915. est. £800-£1,200
(Images courtesy of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions)

 

http://www.dreweatts.com

Glorious Years!

Glorious Years: French Calendars from Louis XIV to the Revolution, Waddesdon Manor, Waddesdon, Near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Wed-Sun – until 29th October 2017

P Thévenard, Almanac Titled ‘France thanks the sky for the Dauphin’s healthy recovery’, 1753.
Photo Mike Fear © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

It is fortunate for later generations that Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839-1898) not only collected 18th century French furniture and porcelain but also had an interest in social history of the period too, accumulating trade cards, lottery tickets and other ephemera such as the calendars that form the focus of this very special exhibition.

Almanac Titled ‘Conquest of the island of Grenada from the English’, 1780.
Photo Mike Fear © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

The twenty-six calendars or as they were originally called ‘almanacs’ are having their public debut as they have not been exhibited before.  They are a strong reminder of the power of imagery as an educational and propaganda tool from the time of Louis XIV up until the French Revolution when the calendar and time were ‘re-invented’.

Philibert Louis Debucourt, Almanac Titled ‘Republican calendar’, 1794.
Photo Mike Fear © National Trust, Waddesdon Manor

The large single-sheet prints features scenes of victories, royal events and peace treaties while the smaller bound pocketbook versions – think the 18th century equivalent of the smartphone – could contain a variety of useful facts,  including lists of the royal households, postal service schedules, songs, poetry and some even had erasable pages for note-taking or recording gambling debts.

The Mother of Parliaments Annual Division of Revenue, A Print for The British Electorate by Adam Dant, 2017
(c) Adam Dant

Alongside these 18th century examples is a specially commissioned 21st century almanac created by the British artist Adam Dant.  Using the 18th century examples as an example, Dant has amusingly re-interpreted them by depicting modern British MPS and ministers. It may well indeed gain extra significance as a political snapshot of early 2017 given the forthcoming General Election.

www.waddesdon.org.uk

Selected Works from the Sina Jina Collection

When the Heavens Meet the Earth – Selected Works from the Sina Jina Collection, The Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge, until 21st May 2017

Installation image, When the Heavens Meet the Earth, 2017,
courtesy the artists and The Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge, photo Perry Hastings

Downing College alumnus Robert Devereux is a well-known figure in the world of contemporary visual arts and in 2010 he disposed of works from his collection of post-war British art to help set-up The African Arts Trust (TAAT).  This is a body which helps to fund organisations which help create opportunities for artists in Africa – a continent that Devereux loves and feels a connection with.

Installation image, When the Heavens Meet the Earth, 2017,
courtesy the artists and The Heong Gallery, Downing College, Cambridge, photo Perry Hastings

He sums up his approach to collecting saying: ‘I have always bought what I loved and have always been led by what emotionally and visually stimulates me… I am uncomfortable with the notion of being a collector although that is probably what I am… It brings with it unattractive connotations of ownership, hoarding and possession. I like to think that my principal reason for buying has always been to support artists and, in some cases, gallerists.’

Aida Muluneh,
No. 7 from the 99 series, 2013,
Digital photograph, 100 x 100 cm,
copyright the artist, courtesy The Heong Gallery.

Opening Hours: Wednesdays 12pm-8pm · Fridays 12pm-5pm · Saturdays 10am-6pm · Sundays 12pm-5pm

www.heonggallery.com

‘Madonnas and Miracles’

‘Madonnas and Miracles: The Holy Home in Renaissance Italy’, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, until 4th June 2017

The Christ Child, Italy, Camerino, c.1484–90 – during installation.
The silk velvet is Velluto Venezia by Rubelli.
Courtesy of Helen Edwards PR

This is a fascinating exhibition which reveals through both the fine and decorative arts a glimpse of life in Renaissance Italy.  Combining treasures from the museum’s own collections with those loaned from Europe, the US and Israel we see how important religion and devotion were in a world that we may often think as secular.

 

The Christ Child, Italy, Camerino, c.1484–90.
Photo: Nuns of Santa Chiara, Camerino.

Some of the works were to come from the Marche area of Italy which was affected by earthquakes last October and while it is has not been possible for some objects to be brought over as a result of it I am delighted to share images of this 15th century polychrome decorated wooden doll of the Christ Child with you because to me its survival is a miracle of some sort. It has not only survived through the centuries but also last year’s earthquake which reduced the Franciscan nunnery where it is kept to rubble.

 

The Christ Child, Italy, Camerino, c.1484–90 – during installation.
Courtesy of Helen Edwards PR

Images of the Madonna were an important feature in Italian homes in the Renaissance and her role as a mother was copied by many women who owned such dolls.  One other exhibit that particularly struck me was the set of knives whose blades are decorated with the notes and words for a four-part grace and nearby is a recording of it by members of the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge.

The Viadana family prays to St Nicholas to save them from an earthquake, Italy, Le Marche, 16th century.
Tolentino, Museo di San Nicola.

The three groups of ex-voto paintings were way of giving thanks at shrines for what was deemed to be a miracle by the people or family concerned and I thought this one depicting a family praying for protection from an earthquake especially appropriate.

It is in its own special way a great exhibition.

 

http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/

http://www.rubelli.com