It is ten years since we began the annual series of Modern British exhibitions at the gallery, and during that time we have been fortunate enough to handle a remarkable collection of paintings and sculpture. We have also mounted a series of major retrospective exhibitions, including Wadsworth, Vaughan and Kinley, not to mention our re-creation of the pivotal 1955 show of British abstraction and most recently a survey of British constructive art.
This year we have assembled an outstanding collection, by far the best group we have ever had at the gallery. Many of the works have not been seen publicly for decades, including the monumental Beach Scene with Bathers, Pier and Ships by Christopher Wood painted in 1925 on six folding panels, originally owned by Lord Lathom and subsequently sold to Lady Cunard; another rare small gem is the delightful and tender Lovers, painted by Michael Andrews in 1956, last seen during the Andrews touring retrospective exhibition of 1980. The two Craxton paintings of the Lemon Harvester, 1951 and Cockerel & Cat, 1957 have remained with the same family since 1957.
The Frost and the Heath are both exceptional paintings from the artists’ key periods; the Frost painted during his time as a Gregory Fellow at Leeds and the Heath a fine example of his Constructivist phase of the early-mid 1950s, both museum quality works. Hilton’s paintings have become rarer; here we include two, one fine example from the Paris inspired paintings of 1951 and the other a compelling work from 1955. The Hitchens is an exceptional painting from 1960 and was exhibited widely in museums including the Tate Gallery retrospective of 1963. Reynolds’ Legend in August, 1953 is again an outstanding work and closely related to the Tate’s Summer: Young September's Cornfield painted the same year. Interestingly, Legend in August predates the Tate painting by ‘slightly less than a year’ according to Reynolds.
Once again we have managed to find an exceptional small Lowry and a powerful Wynter. We have always had a particular interest in sculpture and for this exhibition we have fine works by Armitage, Chadwick, Frink and Moore.
Interest in Peter Kinley continues to be strong and we have included an early impasto painting of 1962, unseen for decades and another of 1966 showing Kinley’s transition to thinner, flatter, more simplified figure painting of the later 1960s and beyond.
Following our successful Keith Vaughan retrospective we include two gouaches not in that exhibition. Figures and Boats, c.1953 was bought directly from Vaughan in 1963 by the late Kenneth Hood, Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Victoria. There are also two fine Prunella Cloughs, one from 1949, who last year was honoured with a Tate Gallery retrospective.
We hope you get the chance to see this fine collection at the gallery in Bruton Street and look forward to welcoming you.
Our grateful thanks to everyone who has contributed to this exhibition, in particular to Mark Glazebrook and Tom Flynn for their short essays on each of the works in the catalogue.
If you would like to request a copy of the catalogue which accompanies this exhibition and which contains full colour photographs of all works in the exhibition, please contact Lucy Tyler at the gallery: email@example.com