In this rare footage we see the 74-year-old master seated at his easel, applying paint to a canvas while his youngest son Claude, 14, stands by to arrange the palette and place the brush in his father’s permanently clenched hand. By the time the film was made Renoir could no longer walk, even with crutches. He depended on others to move him around in a wheelchair. His assistants would scroll large canvases across a custom-made easel, so that the seated painter could reach different areas with his limited arm movements. But there were times when the pain was so bad he was essentially paralyzed. In the book Renoir, My Father, the painter’s famous filmmaker son Jean describes the shock his father’s wasted figure and gnarled hands gave to people who knew him only from his beautiful art:
‘His hands were terribly deformed. His rheumatism had made the joints stiff and caused the thumbs to turn inward towards the palms, and his fingers to bend towards the wrists. Visitors who were unprepared for this could not take their eyes off his deformity. Though they did not dare to mention it, their reaction would be expressed by some such phrase as “It isn’t possible! With hands like that, how can he paint those pictures? There’s some mystery somewhere.’
Born into a humble family in Limoges, Renoir’s abilities as a draughtsman...
The Art of Henry Moore
“All art should have a certain mystery and should make demands on the spectator. Giving a sculpture or a drawing too explicit a title takes away part of that mystery so that the spectator moves on to the next object, making no effort to ponder the meaning of what he has just seen. Everyone thinks that he or she looks but they don’t really, you know.”
We buy and sell new work every day. Click here to view some of our recent acquisitions. Get in touch if there is something that you are searching for...
Marc Chagall: Portrait of an Artist
Made 1985 for the South Bank Show, British artist Saul Greenberg, who was living and working in the ‘La Ruche’ artist’s residence in Paris just as Chagall did before World War I, tells the story of Chagall’s life. Directed for The South Bank Show by BAFTA winner Kim Evans.
Jan Hardisty was born in 1948. He is half Danish and spent his early years in Aarhus, Denmark before his family settled in North London...
Dora Holzhandler | Original Paintings 2013
We are delighted to be able to offer these paintings by Dora Holzhandler.
Born in Paris in 1928 into a family of Polish refugees, Dora Holzhandler’s childhood memories and Jewish roots permeate her work, as do her Buddhist beliefs, and she claims that “now, as a Buddhist, I can really enjoy being Jewish.”
Christopher was born and bred in Leeds as individualism tightened its grip on our outlook. As it reached those new heights in the eighties...
Bawden and Battenberg: Lyons Teashop Lithographs
After the second world war, John Piper, Edward Bawden and other artists were commissioned to spruce up Lyons teashops. Michael Prodger reflects on a halcyon time of ‘art for all’ – and a project that could never happen today…
The first half of the 20th century was a halcyon time for British public art. The common cultural mantra “Art for all” inspired more than just lip service; it lay behind initiatives aimed at democratising art and spreading a taste for it beyond its customary audiences. Unusually for an ideal of social improvement, the driving force was not government but business.
Frank Pick, the guiding light at London Underground, was the first corporate patron properly to understand that presenting the consumer with high-end art could be mutually beneficial. When he commissioned artists such as Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland to produce designs for tube posters, passengers started to imbibe modern art as they travelled. At the same time, the tone of the company’s image was raised. Shell-Mex followed Pick’s lead with its advertising: out went the commercial artists, in came the fine artists. The “You can be sure of Shell” slogan was seen on the work of a host of artists including Ben Nicholson and Edward McKnight Kauffer. The School Prints scheme, meanwhile, hoped that putting prints by Lowry, Henry Moore and other painters into the nation’s classrooms might foster a taste for art alongside the three Rs.
One of the most interesting of these initiatives was, however, born for more prosaic reasons. Lyons teashops were a staple of the British high street; the first one opened on Piccadilly in 1894, and the chain eventually came to number about 200 cafes. Lyons also owned restaurants and hotels and produced own-brand goods such as tea and their celebrated battenberg cake, but it was the teashops – selling good food at reasonable prices – that remained its mainstay.
By the end of the second world war, the teashops were looking rather tired. A shortage of decorating materials meant many were in need of sprucing up. Paint remained in short supply in the years immediately following the end of the war, so the Lyons directors came up with an imaginative way of covering up patches of peeling wall and distracting the eye: they commissioned a series of lithographs. The scheme was designed to be temporary, nothing more than “a novel and intriguing method of decoration … with no other purpose in mind than that of giving the teashops themselves an interesting and homely appearance”. The prints were a sizeable 30 by 40 inches, to cover as much worn decor as possible.
Between 1946 and 1955 the company commissioned three series of prints, some 40 in all, from most of the leading British artists of the day. The lithographs were not advertising per se (the Lyons name only appeared in small type at the bottom of each), but they were branding by association. The man chosen to direct the scheme was Jack Beddington, who had previously worked on the Shell-Mex posters and, during the war, at the Ministry of Information. He became project manager, selecting the artists and directing the choice of subject matter. Previously Lyons’s publicity had been marked, he said, “not so much by the common touch … as by the commonplace”. Beddinton was determined to change that.
To help, he brought in the artist Barnett Freedman as the technical director. He had long experience as a lithographer and had been both an official war artist and a teacher at the Royal College of Art. The last member of the triumvirate was Frank Oppenheimer, MD of the commercial printing firm Chromoworks in Willesden. The company printed the Heinz baked beans labels, among other things, but Oppenheimer took on the Lyons lithographs and kept the unions sweet when they bridled at artists producing their own prints.
For the first set of lithographs, he drew up a list of 29 names, most of whom had been war artists. It included Lowry, Moore, Cedric Morris, Sutherland, Edward Bawden, Edward Ardizzone and Nash (who died before he could take part). The subsequent series, of 1951 and 1955, included Michael Ayrton, John Piper, John Minton and David Gentleman. The artists were not told to modify their styles or tone down their work but they were, by and large, unthreatening to a tea-and-cake audience.
By the time all the prints had been completed, they offered an overview of postwar Britain as seen by almost all of the period’s most renowned artists. It was a view that mixed the bucolic, the nostalgic, the subfusc urban world, and an occasional hint of exoticism. The prints effectively offered 40 different glimpses of one subject – the British way of life in an age of austerity.
The lithographs also convey a palpable sense of a clubbable generation. When Gentleman was invited to contribute a print to series three, he was not long out of art school. “I couldn’t imagine a greater delight when I was asked. I knew the prints quite well and John Nash, Bawden, Minton … all those people taught me in different degrees at the RCA.” He was on familiar terms with most of the artists involved with the series. It was, he felt, “a real honour to be asked. It was the first big thing I had been asked to do and it put me in company I admired very much.”
Gentleman was one of the artists who produced an auto-lithograph, an image drawn directly on to the lithographic plate; some of the others, such as Bawden, handed over a completed picture (in his case a collage) for the Chromoworks staff to translate into a print. “Lithography was difficult,” Gentleman says, “but I don’t remember fearing being told, ‘Forget it, it’s no good’.” Because the prints were produced by a commercial company, reproofing was “nightmarish … if you got it wrong you were lumbered with it”. Eric Ravilious had called the glutinous lithographic inks “beastly stuff”.
Getting mucky was worth the artists’ while, however. They were paid between £50 and £150 each (“I got £150,” Gentleman says, “an astonishing amount for me”), but the prints were also put on sale to the public “at a price within reach of the slenderest purse”, the artists receiving sixpence for every print of theirs sold. The lithographs were produced in editions of 1,500, so a popular print could make real money. It was part of Beddington’s plan both to popularise and support British artists.
He also had a highly developed eye for publicity. He encouraged national institutions such as the V&A and the British Council to buy sets of the prints, and organised modern PR events to spread the word. In 1947, the first series was shown privately to Queen Mary, then to the artists and the press at a cocktail party, before a public exhibition was opened by Ralph Richardson. The third series was launched by Kenneth Clark, who made an exception to his “absolute rule not to open exhibitions” for his “old friend” Beddington and described the Lyons project as “an eyeful as well as a mouthful”. The idea of a picture gallery for Everyman was well‑received by both critics and the public (although one customer said of William Scott’s Birdcage that it was very good considering “it was painted by a child of eight years old”). The prints dovetailed with the prevailing mood exemplified by the 1951 Festival of Britain.
The lithographs outlived their original purpose and remained on display until the teashops closed in the 1970s. Relatively cheap to buy, many of the prints have also proved disposable. The bulk of the original artworks were sold at auction in 1975.
The teashop project is not one that could be repeated today, partly because cultural mores have shifted – the link between patronage and profit is no longer such an innocent one – and partly, as Gentleman points out, because “today’s equivalent artists would simply be too expensive”. While some of the artists have now slipped from sight – George Hooper, Lynton Lamb, Clifford Frith – the Lyons lithographs nevertheless brought together a remarkable gathering of talent. Almost every significant artist of the period took part – “a good bunch”, as Gentleman puts it – with Sutherland and Stanley Spencer among the few illustrious absentees. The Lyons prints remain an evocative snapshot of a distinctive moment in time – a period when utility and invention worked together – and a reflection of Britain’s undemonstrative but confident postwar self-image.
The emergence of the poster print at times of cultural crisis: the First World War, the economic recession, the Second World War and subsequent austerity...
Original Poster Prints – Online Catalogue
Many artists in the early part of the 20th century, disenfranchised by the economic climate and art-establishment reactionaries, made a living in the emerging business of design, under the patronage of industry. In printmaking this led to the production of a particular kind of coloured, decorative lithograph – the poster print. These prints, often with decorative borders, were conceived for mass production, printed on very thin paper, to be pasted up in schools, pubs, tea rooms, and hoardings. Due to all this, very few have survived.
We are fortunate to have been able to acquire an important collection of these poster prints which are now at the gallery. The emergence of the poster print at times of cultural crisis: the First World War, the economic recession, the Second World War and subsequent austerity, point to its having an ideological value that should not be underestimated. The traditional and representational images favoured by the publishers of these prints typify the values of hearth, home and family of those times.
The emergence of the poster print at times of cultural crisis: the First World War, the economic recession, the Second World War and subsequent austerity...
Patrick Reyntiens | Book Launch, Talk & Exhibition
Saturday 23rd November 2013 saw the launch of Patrick Reyntiens – Catalogue of Stained Glass by Libby Horner, with a preface by Sir Roy Strong and introduction by Frances Spalding. Also there was a short talk by Libby Horner and an exhibition of around 40 unique, hand painted, signed, stained glass panels.
Patrick Reyntiens is now in his 86th year and attended the exhibition.
Patrick Reyntiens OBE was born in 1925 into a very different world. Best known for his collaboration with John Piper, with whom he worked...
Daumier: Visions of Paris by the RA
Daumier’s work has been admired by artists both of his time such as Degas and Delacroix as well as those who followed; from Picasso and Francis Bacon to Paula Rego and Quentin Blake. Daumier made his living as a caricaturist in newspapers, observing and ridiculing the conceits of bourgeois society, reserving special criticism for dishonest politicians and lawyers; even earning himself a spell in jail for his depiction of King Louis Philippe as Gargantua.
Honoré Victorin Daumier (1808-1879) was born in Marseilles, the son of glazier and poet Jean Baptiste Louis Daumier and Cécile...
Honoré Daumier (1808 – 1879) was a French painter and sculptor but is now noted as the pre-eminent caricaturist of the 19th century. In the late 1820s he learnt the fairly new process of lithography and in 1830 contributed political cartoons to the republican, anti-government weekly Caricature.
Daumier was an ardent republican and in 1832 was imprisoned for representing Louis-Philippe as Gargantua swallowing bags of gold extorted from the people. Political satire was suppressed in France in 1835 and in consequence Daumier turned to satire of social life in the daily Le Charivari; the first newspaper to be illustrated with lithographs.
In Le Charivari Daumier depicted a series of humorous scenes which gave a vivid and critical view of France’s social classes in transition. Amongst these series was one satirizing businessmen personified in the character of Robert Macaire, an unscrupulous, flattering swindler and profiteer. The character of Robert Macaire had first appeared in 1823 in a now largely forgotten melodrama. Originally 100 lithographs of Robert Macaire appeared in Le Charivari between August 1836 and November 1838 followed by a second series between October 1840 and September 1842.
The lithographs offered here were published in 1840 and were the first to be hand-coloured. The intensity of the colour was heightened with the use of gum-arabic and remains remarkably vivid.
Prices include frame, vat and uk shipping. We have only one copy of each print.
Francis Davison, born 1919 in London, studied at Cambridge, where he read English and anthropology. He moved to St Ives in 1946 at the...
Graham Sutherland | The Bees Suite
We are delighted to be able to offer this series of aquatints conceived and produced between October 1976 and May 1977. They were printed in the 2RC Studio in Rome under the supervision of Eleonora and Valter Rossiu and were published by Marlborough Fine Art Ltd and 2RC Editrice.
Graham Sutherland [1903-1980] attended Epsom School and then studied art at Goldsmith's School of Art [1921-26] where he quickly became a highly...
Peter Blake | Alphabet
Peter Blake emerged in the 1960s as one of the leading British Pop Artists. Alphabet is a set of bold and colourful silkscreen prints, one for each letter of the alphabet, produced by the artist in 1991. The prints characterise his typical method of working, incorporating ‘found’ imagery from postcards, magazines and popular ephemera. From the familiar Z for Zebra to the esoteric P for Pachyderm these screenprints reflect his humour, nostalgia and eclecticism.
Mike Goldmark has been a shopkeeper in Uppingham over 40 years...
We stock thousands of prints, paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculptures across a very wide range of top British, American and European artists. We also make films, publish books and hold concerts and events...