From ancient treasures to modern masters, a huge range of art is on offer in London this summer. Much of it is to be found in the large multi-dealer events (The Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, Masterpiece London, London Art Week) returning for the first time since the pandemic began, but there is also a healthy supply of new or one-off shows to be explored.
For example, on Duke St, St James’s, The Maas Gallery holds an exhibition of Victorian pictures from (June 21-July 22).
“We would perhaps have gone to [TEFAF] Maastricht for June, but we really need to be in London to trade British pictures”, said dealer Rupert Maas. “Especially this year, it’s all happening here and it’s fun to be part of it. We’ve got a big shiny new gallery in St James’s, this is our first show since 2019 and it’s got some really good things in it. We’ll go back to the Netherlands in March, when London’s hibernating.”
The show includes works by artists such as John Everett Millais, John William Waterhouse and Edwin Landseer, with prices starting at £1800.
Nearby on Bury Street Priestley & Ferraro stages The Crown Prince in Meditation, a one-work show held to mark Asian Art in London’s inaugural summer event (June 29-July 2).
The Qi dynasty (550-77) white marble stele, deeply carved and pierced, depicts a Buddhist deity surrounded by a complex cycle of spiritual figures. Measuring 3ft 7in (1.1m) tall, it is the subject of continued research and is on offer for £950,000. Accompanying the piece is an assortment of Chinese stone carving.
Buyers and exhibition-goers might cross Piccadilly to Mayfair where Offer Waterman stages a major centenary retrospective on the works of Modern British artist William Turnbull (1922-2012). Staged across six rooms and two floors of the Frieze space at No.9 Cork Street, Mayfair, it comprises more than 60 paintings and sculptures from across Turnbull’s career, many direct from the estate.
According to the gallery, which has represented his estate exclusively since 2015: “As we come out of the pandemic into a busy summer for the London art world, it seemed like the perfect moment to stage the most comprehensive exhibition of Turnbull’s work since a major retrospective at the Tate Gallery in 1973.”
It coincides with the publication of William Turnbull: International Modern Artist by Lund Humphries, featuring a forward by Nicholas Serota, former director of the Tate and current chair of Arts Council England. The preview includes a private book launch on June 30 and the show runs until July 20.
Prices start from £50,000 for works on paper, while paintings start at £220,000 and sculptures range from £80,000-£1.1m.
Fellow Mayfair gallery James Hyman, meanwhile, presents the first London exhibition on avid photographic self-portraitist, the Countess of Castiglione (1837-1899). The solo show, running until July 29, includes 50 portraits of the Countess dating from the 1850s to the 1890s, made in collaboration with photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson. These historic portraits – well suited for consideration in the age of the selfie – are relatively rare as just a few prints were made and these were not distributed. The first major exhibition of her work took place only at the end of the 20th century.
Hyman says that for him “no one is more influential or relevant to today’s photographers than the Countess of Castiglione. The Countess is arguably the most radical and contemporary photographer of the 19th century. Today, her relevance is everywhere.”
Travel much further back in time on Pall Mall, where Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch in association with Claire Brown Art stage “Yes, wonderful things”, an exhibition of Egyptian art from 3000-100BC. The event, which runs July 1-8, takes its title from Harold Carter’s words when he peered into the tomb of Tutankhamun. The show marks 100 years since the burial site was uncovered and 200 years since Jean- François Champollion, revealed his ground-breaking decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Over on Kensington Church Street, Hill House Antiques offers a variety of Art & Crafts furniture in its annual exhibition running from June 30-July 8. Featuring some pieces specially held back for the event, it showcases works by CFA Voysey, Barry Parker, Arthur Simpson of Kendal, Archibald Knox, Talwin Morris and many others. Prices range mostly from £500-15,000.
If Kensington Church Street is a hub for dealers, so is Cecil Court in Covent Garden, welcoming a clutch of new traders into its shops before the pandemic struck.
Among them is Darnley Fine Art, which stages an exhibition on the Modern British artist Samuel Rabin (1903-91) from July 9-16. More than 15 of Rabin’s anatomical and boxing pictures are on offer, all produced from 1950 on. Rabin, who was by turns an opera singer, teacher, wrestler and Olympic medallist did not exhibit his work to the British public on a large scale until 1985. Prices range from £1000- 25,000.
“We certainly have noticed a dramatic change with tourists and footfall back in London”, says dealer Adrian Pett of Darnley Fine Art. “The summer period has changed also, all the art dealers used to close shop for the summer, but now it can be just as busy anytime of the year. Especially on Cecil Court, as we now have such a great selection of specialist dealers.”
A 15-minute walk to Carnaby Street finds The Fine Art Society, which opens a pair of shows on June 30. The Glasgow Boys, running until July 29, features works by the group of Scottish painters that rose to prominence in the 1880s. A second show spotlights contemporary artist David Eustace.
For those who might struggle to get to London for in-person shows, many firms offer physical and online catalogues. Grosvenor Prints, for example, a resident of Covent Garden, recently launched its summer catalogue focusing on satire of the 18th and 19th century.
Back in Mayfair, Peter Harrington’s latest catalogue of Children’s Books and Original Illustrations, which showcases a private collection built up over 40 years of original artwork and sketches. Though the catalogues are online, doors to the shops are open.