Vivien Leigh – Sotheby’s

Vivien: The Vivien Leigh Collection, Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, London W1, 26th September 2017

 

Lot 14 A Large Collection of Photographs of Vivien and Larry
Estimate £800-1,200
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Vivien Leigh was one of the most beautiful and talented actresses to ever grace both stage and screen and now she is once again the star of the show when Sotheby’s auctions hundreds of items belonging to her in London on 26 September.

Jewellery including a mid 19th-century diamond bow brooch, a gold ring given to Vivien Leigh by her husband Laurence Olivier and a 18th-century chrysoberyl devant de corsage.
(Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for Sotheby’s)

From Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind to Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire and Karen Stone in The Roman Spring Of Mrs Stone Vivien almost reflected her own life in her films.  The feckless Scarlett ‘thinking about it tomorrow’ is Vivien in her early theatrical pursuits where she was a whirlwind jumping from (mainly) success to success then Blanche sadly shows us Vivien in her troubled years long before bi-polar personalities had been categorised.  Then finally we have Karen Stone a bewildered widow who falls for the ersatz charm of an Italian gigolo played by Warren Beatty complete with cod Italian accent.  Mrs Stone has found a new way of living and remains a sad but noble survivor.

Interior, Notley Abbey
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

When I was ten years old I saw Vivien on stage at the Kings Theatre in Glasgow in Noel Coward’s South Sea Bubble and can still recall the ‘presence’ that came across the footlights.

Lot 269 Vivien’s monogrammed luggage, all monogrammed V.L.O., and two black leather luggage labels with insert name cards printed Lady Olivier
Estimate £800-1,200
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The items in this sale include diaries, family photographs, paintings as well as library and personal items – even the wig she wore as Blanche. I was quite surprised and delighted to see that Vivien possessed a similarly framed item exactly the same as one I recently bought in a charity shop.  It is a sketch by Ronald Searle published in Punch in January 1957 as part of his Heroes of our Time series entitled Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. – not Lady Olivier!  In it Vivien looks out from the sketch brightly and vivaciously whilst Sir Laurence is in the foreground in his Richard lll costume and make up,  including the hump, and looking out at us resignedly, cigarette clutched firmly between his fingers.

Vivien Leigh painting at an easel in a garden
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

The accompanying catalogue features many lovely photos of Vivien but then how could you take an unlovely one?

 

Lot 224 Vivien’s writing bureau, mid-18th century, acquired from Asprey in 1949
Estimate £600-900
Courtesy of Sotheby’s

 

http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2017/vivien-leigh-collection

 

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for writing about this sale

OUT & ABOUT: Bowman Sculpture

Wind Head
Emily Young
(British, Born 1951)
Mountain Clastic Rock
Unique
Height: 29 1/2 inches (75 cm)
Conceived and carved in 2013

St James’s Church in Piccadilly plays host to an exhibition of eight sculptures by Emily Young.  They can be seen in the churchyard and adjoining Southwood Garden. The sculptor’s travels around the world are reflected in these pieces and one can only admire how she brings out the character and qualities of the stone through her carving.  They can be seen until 10th January 2018.

Cautha
Emily Young
(British, Born 1951)
Clastic Onyx
Unique
Height 43 1/2 inches (110 cm)

www.sjp.org.uk

www.bowmansculpture.com

BOOK REVIEW: AMERICA COLLECTS EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FRENCH PAINTING

AMERICA COLLECTS EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY FRENCH PAINTING

Yuriko Jackall et al
£50.00 GBP
ISBN: 9781848222342

 

Regular readers will have ascertained that I am drawn to the arts of 18th century France in all their forms and so it will come as no surprise that I am bringing this book to your attention.  American collectors such as the Wrightsmans, Forsyth Wickes and others have long held my interest and now here is the chance to celebrate Americans collecting French 18th century paintings through this well-illustrated volume.

 

Through a series of essays by noted authors and scholars such as Pierre Rosenberg, Robert Schindler, Joseph J. Rishel and Susan Earle various aspects of American collecting and taste are discussed. I am particularly grateful for the piece on Eugenia Woodward Hitt of whom I had known little. This is a book which I will return to again and again with relish.

 

www.lundhumphries.com

Canaletto & the Art of Venice

Canaletto & the Art of Venice, The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. London SW1, until 12th November 2017

Canaletto, Piazza San Marco looking west towards San Geminiano, c.1723-4, part of a set of six views of Venice.
Royal Collection Trust/(c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

The two key figures in this remarkable show are Joseph Smith, British Consul in Venice, and George III. The former was also Canaletto’s agent and dealer encouraging the artist to depict Venetian life for the Grand Tour visitors, especially the English ones, in the first half of the 18th century. The latter in 1762 bought almost all of Smith’s collection of paintings, drawings, medals and books which included Canaletto paintings, drawings and etchings as well as the works of other Venetian painters of the day.

Canaletto, The Pantheon, 1742, part of a set of five Roman views.
Royal Collection Trust/(c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

This superb exhibition proves how wise George III was and how fortunate we are to be able to see it brought together – it is the best group of Canaletto’s works in the world! Alongside his paintings of Venice are the series of 5 large-scale Roman views which Canaletto painted in 1742.  I particularly liked the smaller view of the Grand Canal (The Grand Canal looking north-west from near the Rialto) showing Smith’s palazzo with its new classical façade altered later by the artist.

Rosalba Carriera,’Winter’, c. 1726
Royal Collection Trust/(c)Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

Add to this works by Sebastiano and Marco Ricci, Francesco Zuccarelli, Rosalba Carriera, Pietro Longhi and Giovanni Battista Piazzetta and one really gets an absorbing picture of life in 18th century Venice. I loved the Sebastiano Ricci of The Adoration of the Kings (1726) because of the way Christ’s arm and hand are outstretched touching one of the king’s heads in benediction.

Canaletto, The Mouth of the Grand Canal looking West towards the Carita, c.1729-30, from a set of 12 paintings of the Grand Canal.
Royal Collection Trust/(c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

This exhibition should not be missed!

http://www.royalcollection.org.uk

Marco Ricci, Farinelli in walking dress, c.1729-30
Royal Collection Trust/(c)Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

Rose Finn-Kelcey

Life, Belief and Beyond, Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1, until 15th October 2017

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby

Working in London from 1968 until her death from motor neurone disease Rose Finn-Kelcey (1945-2014) was an innovative artist who questioned and challenged themes such as feminism, spirituality and power and politics through her works in various media.

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby

This engaging exhibition – the first since her death – combines key pieces with preparatory sketches and material, photographs and performance documentation and like the artist demands the viewers’ attention and interest.

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby

www.modernartoxford.org.uk

Rose Finn-Kelcey, Life, Belief and Beyond installation view, 2017
© Modern Art Oxford. Photo: Ben Westoby

Sargent in Dulwich

Sargent: The Watercolours, Gallery Road, London SE21, until 8th October 2017

John Singer Sargent, The Church of Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, c. 1904-9,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, 36.7 x 53.8 cm,
© Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon. Photo: Catarina Gomes Ferreira

It is almost a hundred years since there was an exhibition devoted to the watercolours of John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) so there is much to celebrate in this show. The eighty works by this Anglo American artist are an absolute delight with most dating from between 1900 – 1918.

Unknown photographer, Sargent painting a watercolour in the Simplon Pass, c. 1910-11,
Sargent Archive, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Sargent by 1910 had basically given up the portrait painting for which he was renowned to concentrate on watercolour painting. He travelled in Southern Europe and the Middle East and brought his own idiosyncratic style to these wonderful works whether fragmented glimpses, cities, people or landscapes. As the photograph shows he painted ‘en plein air’ and in some of the Venice watercolours you feel you are actually there with him in the gondola from which he depicts the view before him.

John Singer Sargent, A Turkish Woman by a Stream, c. 1907,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, with touches of body colour, 35.9 x 50.8 cm,
Victoria and Albert Museum. Bequeathed by Miss Dorothy Barnard. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Richard Ormond, co-curator and grand-nephew of Sargent, says: “In Sargent’s watercolours we see his zest for life and his pleasure in the act of painting. The fluency and sensuality of his paint surfaces, and his wonderful command of light, never cease to astonish us. With this exhibition we hope to demonstrate Sargent’s mastery of the medium and the scale of his achievement”.
I rather think you will agree with him.

John Singer Sargent, Rome: An Architectural Study, c. 1906-7,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, 34.9 x 50.2 cm,
Museums & Galleries, City of Bradford MDC

 

http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

 

John Singer Sargent, Highlanders Resting at the Front, 1918,
watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, 34.3 cm x 53.5 cm,
© Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Art in the Age of Black Power

SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER, Tate Modern, until 22nd October 2017

 

Elizabeth Catlett
Black Unity, 1968
Mahogany wood
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, © Catlett Mora Family Trust/DACS, London / VAGA, NY 2017

 

I am grateful to John Kirkwood to visiting and writing about this exhibition:

 

It is quite startling to enter this exhibition and be confronted by copies of the Black Panther newspaper – the printed form of the ideology behind the Black Panther movement of the early sixties which wasn’t always engaged in peaceful or lawful pursuits.

Faith Ringgold (b.1930)
American People Series #20: Die, 1967
Oil on canvas,1828 x 3657 mm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Purchase; and gift of the Modern Women’s Fund, © Faith Ringgold

There are images in varying media of many of the personalities involved in the rise of the awareness of Black Power including Aretha Franklin, Muhammad Ali and Toni Morrison.  On the more political side we have of course Martin Luther King and Malcolm X who has a painting dedicated to him by Jack Whitten on public display for the first time.  There is a fragment from The Wall of Respect in Chicago which became a powerful symbol of the Civil Rights movement.

Andy Warhol
Muhammad Ali, 1978
Synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas, 1016 x 1016 mm
Private collection
© 2017 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York and DACS, London

This is a timely and far-reaching exhibition and a major celebration of a crucial but perhaps overlooked area of American art history when black artists rose to the challenge of increasing their visibility and saying out loud and clear ‘We are here!’

Roy DeCarava
Couple Walking,1979
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper, 356 x 279 mm
© Courtesy Sherry DeCarava and the DeCarava Archives

http://www.tate.org.uk

‘Op Art’

Seurat to Riley: The Art of Perception, Compton Verney, until 1st October 2017

Blaze IV,
Bridget Riley,
© UK Government Art Collection © Bridget Riley 2017. All rights reserved

Regular readers of my blog may recall that in October 2015 I posted about a small but enjoyable exhibition Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat at the Courtauld Gallery and now in this large-scale show at Compton Verney this debt is re-visited and much expanded upon.

La Luzerne, Saint-Denis,
Georges Seurat,
© Scottish National Gallery

It reminds us that since the 19th century some artists have been fascinated by the way in which the eye sees optical illusions as it responds to visual stimuli and this point is well proven in this exhibition. Ninety diverse ‘Op Art’ works are featured in the show, including pieces by Victor Vasarely, Julio Le Parc, Jeffrey Steele, Jesus Rafael Soto, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Peter Sedgley, Liliane Lijn and, of course, Bridget Riley and Seurat.

Our Spectral Vision,2016,
Liz West.
Photo (c) Hannah Devereux

Professor Steven Parissien, Director of Compton Verney sums it up: “Optical Art explores a range of effects and emotions, using complex geometry and advanced mathematics to communicate with the viewer in a way that is simultaneously mentally challenging and visually appealing. This wonderful exhibition demonstrates just how exhilarating, electrifying and (quite literally) eye-opening Op Art can be.”

The show is curated by Penelope Sexton and Dr Frances Follin and appropriately enough supported by Farrow & Ball.

Pulse 05,
White Earthenware, Underglaze colour, matt glaze, 2012.
Sara Moorhouse,
(c) Sara Moorhouse

http://www.comptonverney.org.uk

The Encounter!

THE ENCOUNTER: DRAWINGS FROM LEONARDO TO REMBRANDT, National Portrait Gallery, London, until 22nd October 2017

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about this exhibition:

Giulio Pedrizzano, The Lutenist Mascheroni by Annibale Carracci c.1593-4
Copyright: Royal Collection Trust © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

This delightful exhibition features old master European portrait drawings by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci, Durer and Rembrandt, many rarely seen and some not displayed for decades.

Young Woman in a French Hood, possibly Mary Zouch by Hans Holbein the Younger c.1533
Copyright: Royal Collection Trust Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

It attempts to show that the artist and the sitter connected and is rather like going through a Renaissance copy of Vanity Fair featuring as it does eight portraits of people from the court of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger – the David Bailey of his day – but also people from the street as well.

Sir John Godsalve by Hans Holbein the Younger c.1532-4
Copyright: Royal Collection Trust Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

An exhibition which cheers the soul with these close encounters.

A sheet of figure studies, with male heads and three sketches of a woman with a child by Rembrandt van Rijn c.1636
Copyright: The Henry Barber Trust, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham

 

http://www.npg.org.uk/

Alma-Tadema!

Alma-Tadema: At Home In Antiquity, Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Rd, London, W14,, until 29th October 2017

I am grateful to John Kirkwood for visiting and writing about this exhibition:

 

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, The Finding of Moses, 1904. © Private Collection

Unbelievably for such a well-known artist, this is the first exhibition of the works of Alma-Tadema in London since 1913. He was a great friend of Lord Leighton and will of course have visited the House which makes the placing of the exhibition here most fitting.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
Self-Portrait of Lourens Alma Tadema, 1852.
© Fries Museum, Collection Royal Frisian Society

A visit to Pompeii on his honeymoon inspired Alma-Tadema to depict carefully researched scenes of life in Ancient Rome which reminded me very much of scenes from the very popular spectacular epic films of the fifties and sixties such as Quo Vadis?, The Ten Commandments, The Fall of the Roman Empire and Ben-Hur and apparently Alma-Tadema had been an inspiration for some of the filmmakers even as late as Gladiator. Indeed many of his paintings are amazingly in the CinemaScope ratio!

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
A Pyrrhic Dance, 1869.
© Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London

There are photographs, artefacts and drawings and paintings from his two houses, one close to the Regent’s Canal and the other in Grove End Road whose exterior remains largely unchanged.  There is also a selection of the panels painted by Alma-Tadema’s artist friends including Lord Leighton which hung in Alma-Tadema’s house and which are reunited for this exhibition. The Studio will also house the portrait of Leopold Lowenstam a friend of Alma-Tadema which was rediscovered on the Antiques Roadshow in 2016 and is on public display for the first time.

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema,
Coign of Vantage, 1895.
© Ann and Gordon Getty

The exhibition is a wonderful journey through Alma-Tadema’s work displayed in a beautiful and atmospheric setting.

 

 

http://www.leightonhouse.co.uk