The old master who plays the long game
17 June 2015 Written by Anna Brady
ATG speaks to Richard Green as he reflects on six decades as a dealer, his firm’s debut at ‘Masterpiece’ this month and how his sons have broadened his taste in art
Richard Green cannot imagine that anyone would want to read about him. About his gallery's paintings, yes. But certainly not about him.
While some dealers court publicity and a platform on which to talk about themselves, the head of the eponymous Mayfair art gallery is notoriously reticent about speaking to the press and guards his privacy fiercely.
Green sets out firmly to me that he wants this interview to be about the paintings and not about him, because it is the paintings that people are interested in rather than personal details.
A true art world enigma with 64 years in the trade behind him, here is a man who wields formidable power upon the London and international market yet is often unseen, preferring to eschew hectic social events and fairs.
We meet at one of the Green family's two Bond Street galleries, two of the handful of art galleries left on the street now dominated by monolithic fashion brands, and I don't mind admitting, for this interview, I'm a little nervous. He doesn't suffer fools.
Passing the Green Test
He also won't suffer second rate paintings. Possessed of astounding knowledge coupled with a hard head for business, Green is known for his rigorous research. Auction house specialists and fellow dealers speak of the critical intensity with which he views any work he is considering buying.
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The Richard Green Gallery will host an exhibition of paintings from the age of the Glasgow Boys to the Scottish Colourists, at 33 New Bond Street, featuring J D Fergusson, Samuel Peploe, Francis Cadell and Leslie Hunter, as well as pre-war paintings from the Glasgow Boys, featuring works by Sir John Lavery, and extraordinary pieces by lesser known artists such as Harrington Mann, Robert Burns and Sir Herbert James Gunn. A highlight of the show, which was recently discovered in a French attic, is the recovered masterpiece, Poise (1916) by J D Fergusson.
Inspired by Fauvism and the work of Matisse in the 1910s, the Scottish Colourists did not exhibit together until 1924 when they were labeled ‘Les Peintres de L’Ecosse Moderne’. They sought to rework the strong and vibrant colours of contemporary Parisian art, and whilst they were considered more conservative than their French counterparts, they developed a distinctive Scottish style depicting the fashionable interiors, landscapes and models of Edinburgh. Together with the Glasgow School, and Stanley Cursiter, who also features in the exhibition, the Scottish Colourists were internationally recognized during their lifetimes and acknowledged for introducing Post-Impressionist painting to Scotland.
The Glasgow School of artists, otherwise known as The Glasgow Boys was a group of predominantly Scottish artists who, in the years prior to World War I, were part of the great artistic evolution in Scotland. They formed a ‘new’ modern style of painting that swept across Europe and America, inspired by travelling and study. The Glasgow Boys produced some of their most notable works between 1890 and 1910, fusing different cultural experiences with an exploration of painting techniques. Harrington Mann’s Italian peasant girl is an example of this cultural fusion, most probably encouraged by time he spent in Italy as a result of a travelling scholarship he was awarded whist studying at the Slade School of Art. Harrington Mann was a great friend of Sir John Lavery and even painted a portrait of his child; Lavery also mentions the artist in his writing on portraiture.
Image: J. D. Fergusson, 'Poise', signed, inscribed and dated, oil on canvas, 76.2 x 71cm. Copyright, Richard Green Gallery, London
17th century Dutch masterpieces by Caspar Netscher (c1639 – 1684) and Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/29 – 1682), a classic Neo-Impressionist painting by Camille Pissarro (1830 – 1903), and a sculpture by Edgar Degas (1834 - 1917) will be among the star attractions on Richard Green’s stand at the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht this year from March 13th – 22nd.
As the fair is the world’s leading venue for Old Master paintings, the gallery has carefully selected works that measure up to the fair’s reputation.
Caspar Netscher’s 'A young woman feeding a parrot' is unquestionably one of the artist’s masterpieces, comparable in its fijnschilder technique to the work of his contemporary, Gerrit Dou. Signed and dated 1666, it is a rare genre piece by an artist who later became extremely sought after for portrait painting. In it, a young woman, dressed in the height of fashion, feeds an African Grey parrot, a popular, exotic but expensive pet bought back from the rainforests of Africa by Dutch traders.
The painting also has a fascinating provenance, not without some drama attached. In the early 18th century it was in the collection of Johan Wilhelm II, the Elector Palatine, and belonged to the Alte Pinakothek museum in Munich from the 1830s to 1936. In 1939 it was lent to the Musee Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, but seized by the German occupying forces. 1944 when it was hanging in the Jeu de Paume in Paris, it was claimed by Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering and taken to his bunker on the outskirts of Berlin. In 1952 it was given to the Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, and was restituted to the heirs of the pre-war owners in 2014.
Jacob van Ruisdael’s 'Dunes by the sea', painted in 1648 when he was barely twenty, shows the mastery of atmosphere and emotional engagement with landscape that was to have a huge influence on Ruisdael’s contemporaries and on artists of the Romantic generation, including John Constable. The work, inspired by the Zuider Zee, south of Amsterdam, is unusual in Ruisdael’s oeuvre in depicting a shoreline.
In the late 19th and early 20th century the painting was owned by Ernst August, Crown Prince of Hanover and 3rd Duke of Cumberland. In 2005 it was included in the major touring exhibition, ‘Jacob van Ruisdael: Master of Landscape’ that went from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and then to the Royal Academy, London.
In addition, the gallery will exhibit a number of exceptional works by Impressionist and Modern masters.
Painted in 1896, Camille Pissarro’s ‘Petite bonne flamande dite ‘La Rosa’, is a fine example of the artist’s Neo-Impressionist technique that incorporated a Pointillism in a softer way than Seurat. Here he uses the Pointillist style to explore the effects of light. In the composition, in which the Flemish maidservant, Rosa, sits by an open door in the gentle winter light, the viewer senses a resonance with the interiors of Pieter de Hooch and other 17th century Dutch masters.
As with so many Impressionist masterpieces, this painting was first shown at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris where the art critic Thiébault-Sisson praised it as ‘a superbly honest piece’. The painting was most recently owned by Dr Mortimer Sackler, the philanthropist for the sciences and the arts, whose name is associated with the Sackler Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Edgar Degas’ bronze, ‘Cheval au gallop sur le pied droit’ is the largest of fifteen wax and mixed media models of horses that were cast in limited editions at the request of Degas’ heirs after his death in 1917. The original wax and cork model, which was in the collection of Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon, is now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington. The rendition of the horse is based on a photograph by Eadweard Muybridge published in 1887 which analysed the horse’s gait. Although he had ‘a fairly good understanding of the animal’s anatomy…I was completely ignorant’ wrote Degas ‘of the mechanisms of its movements’ until Muybridge’s work.
Green at TEFAF Maastricht 2015, stand 302, 13 – 22 March 2015, Maastricht, Netherlands, www.tefaf.com
Caspar Netscher (c.1639 - 1684), 'A Young woman feeding a parrot', signed and dated lower left, oil on panel, 46 x 37 in. Copyright, Richard Green Gallery, London.
Currently showcasing at the Richard Green Gallery, 33 New Bond Street, is a collection of ten works by celebrated Scottish painter, Alan Davie (1920-2014). The exhibition titled, 'Alan Davie: Music, Magic and Mythology' examines his rich and complex oil paintings from 1954 to 1976 and will be on display until the end of March 2015.
The subtitle of the exhibition, ‘Music, Magic and Mythology’, refers to both Davie’s joys and passions, influences and practices that recur in his paintings throughout his career. Painting highlights, clearly expressing these predominant trends, include: ‘Jumpin’ at the Woodside’ (1965), ‘Transformation of A.D. No. 4’ (1970),‘Goddess of the Green’ (1954), respectively.
Several of Davie’s paintings refer to his love of jazz music and modern jazz titles. After having had a promising career as a saxophonist in a jazz group in the 1940s, the exploration of rhythm, colour and freedom of form in Davie’s improvised style can be compared to the manner in which a jazz musician might take and develop a theme instrumentally. Painting, ‘Jumpin’ at the Woodside’ (1970) directly references the title of a jazz song with the same name, written in 1938 by the American jazz pianist, William ‘Count’ Basie.
In later works, such as, ‘Sorcerer’s Wall No. 3’ (1970), the artist invokes the magical element, which can also been seen in ‘Transformation of A.D. No. 4’ (1970) and Fairy Tree No. 8 (1971), both of which were included in the exhibition, ‘Magic and Strong Medicine’ at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool in 1973. An interest in primitivism, myth and magical symbolism in the 1960s saw recurring symbols from diverse world cultures in his paintings hereafter, representing a synthesis of fictional narrative mythologies. Examples include his seminal work ‘Goddess of the Green’ (1954), and ‘Dancer Myth No.3’ (1976).
Alan Davie, ‘Parrot’s Love Song, No. 8,
signed, dated Mar 70, oil on canvas,
121.9 x 152.4 cm
The Richard Green Gallery is delighted to present Ken Howard’s tenth exhibition at 147, New Bond Street. Ranging from small studies ‘en plein air’ to large studio canvases, LONDON PARIS NEW YORK will include over sixty paintings of these three cities.
In each one, regardless of the subject, it is the light which remains central to Howard’s paintings: he captures a subject at a specific time, painting at six in the morning and then again in the early evening before sunset. As the light changes continuously throughout the day, the dynamic of each painting changes too and Howard says, “Seeing a subject [at different times of the day] is like seeing a new subject every time... Windsor and Newton don’t make light in a tube… you have to make it.”
London is Ken Howard’s home: it is familiar and, between trips to New York and Paris, he continues to find its range of weather and lights both stimulating and challenging. Above all, Howard most enjoys painting London in the rain and says “I find rain wonderful.”
Paris, home to Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Camille Pissarro, is where he is closest to his artistic roots and inspiration. It is Howard’s favourite city, but even though he has painted there many times before, only now does he feel he sees the city in his own terms, able to communicate the passion of the capital in his own ‘language.’
Howard’s latest trip to New York was his third, and on previous occasions he had not found the inspiration to paint. This time it was quite the opposite; the scale of the city made a great impression on him and he says, “…[in New York] the buildings are bigger, the cars are bigger… even the people seem bigger.” Howard painted New York in the spring when he found the light most beautiful.
“A painting is finished when it starts to give back to me the sensation that made me want to start it,” says Howard. “[It] starts and ends with light.”An ambition he has is to make his viewer ‘squint’ in front of his paintings – at the illusion, sensation and creation of light, just as we might if we stop for a moment to look at these views of London, New York or Paris.
This exhibition will be open at 147, New Bond Street between 14th and 31st January 2015. For further enquires please contact the gallery at email@example.com
Details from, ‘Rain effect, City of London’; ‘Pont des Invalides’ and ‘Square in Manhattan’ Copyright, Richard Green Gallery, London
This week, the Richard Green Gallery launches a selling exhibition at 33, New Bond Street, of paintings by Mary Fedden, entitled, ‘Summer in Winter’. Comprised of 18 works and spanning four decades, this exhibition explores a range of subjects including, still lifes and landscapes between 1965 and 2007. The show opens on Wednesday, 26th of November and will run until Tuesday, 23rd December 2014.
Mary Fedden was born in Bristol in 1915 and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1932-1936. She found her own style early on, initially influenced by French and Russian modernists, including Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso and the Russian theatre designer Valdimir Polunin, who introduced a sense of drama to her work through colour and composition that would leave a lasting impression on her.
In1951, Fedden married artist Julian Trevelyan and they devoted much of the 1950s to creating art and travelling the world together. By the start of the 1960s, Fedden’s paintings took on the style for which she is best known, using pure, vibrant colours for subjects of still lifes and views of Italy and North Africa. Her work exudes carefree joy and a love of simplicity in the everyday objects that surrounded her; she carefully choreographed still life arrangements, altered perspectives in favour of flattened forms that offered decorative appeal, and chose specific colour palettes for each new painting.
From the late 50s to the mid 60s, Fedden was a tutor at the Royal College of Art where she taught David Hockney and Allen Jones. She continued to work from the studio in Hammersmith that she shared with her husband well into her nineties. Her work was touched by a unique naïveté, was playful and imaginative, and she will remain one of Britain’s best-loved artists.
Mary Fedden (1915-2012), ‘Pink Lily’, signed
and dated 1991, oil on board: 41.6 x 32.1cm
Jan Hoet, the distinguished Belgian curator, collector and museum director passed away before the opening of what was due to be his last curated exhibition, 'The Sea'. Hoet was the original owner of Gerhard Richter's 'Abstakets Bild' (716-7), to whom it was gifted by the artist and whose work forms part of the exhibition. As tribute, the Mu.ZEE (Kunstmuseum Aan Zee), Ostende, Belgium, dedicate the show to Jan Hoet under the revised title, 'The Sea: Salut d’ Honneur Jan Hoet'. Open until the 19th April 2015.
Richter draws paint across his canvases in vertical and horizontal lines using a squeegee, building overlapping layers, which produce blurred, unpredictable results of which chance plays a major role. ‘I’ve been doing the Abstract Pictures, properly so called, only since 1976, when I quite deliberately accepted the random, wilful element and painted those fairly colourful, heterogeneous pictures...this kind of painting still fascinates me today; it feels like a force of nature’ (Gerhard Richter, The Daily Practice of Painting, Writings and Interviews 1962-1993).
Born Dresden 1932
Signed, dated and numbered 716-7 / Jan Hoet gewidmet /Richter / IVI 90 on the reverse
Oil on canvas: 9 ⅞ x 14 ⅝ in / 25 x 37 cm
For their autumn showcase, the Richard Green Gallery, at 33 New Bond Street, has assembled a collection of works by Ben Nicholson (1894 – 1982), one of Britain’s leading modernist artists of the 20th century.
An intimate arrangement of 9 works, spanning forty years of Nicholson’s career, highlights a life long exploration of abstraction that began after a visit to France in 1921 when he encountered the cubism of Picasso and Braque. Having produced his first abstract paintings in 1924, the earliest painting in this collection is ‘Flowers’ (1928) and the latest ‘1967-8 (relief)’, which demonstrate the artist’s progression from loose abstractions and collage to abstract relief paintings. Throughout, the artist maintains a balanced link between abstraction, use of colour, and illusions of pictorial space.
27 ¾ x 31 in / 75.6 x 83.8 cm
Ben Nicholson (1894 – 1892)
1932 – 37 (Still life – Punch and Judy show)
Signed and dated Ben Nicholson / 1932 – 37 on the overlap and on the reverse, oil on canvas
Entering the spirit of Frieze Masters with
its dual emphasis on Old Master
paintings and Modern art, the Richard Green Gallery will display some
fascinating art, which span the centuries. This selection celebrates Frieze
Masters basic concept that great works of modern and contemporary art are
informed by their understanding of the past. As such, there will be some interesting juxtapositions
A painting of Mary Magdalene by the Master of the Female Half Lengths
who flourished in Antwerp during the first half of the sixteenth century,
shares a certain tenderness with Leon Kossoff’s ‘Small Head of Rosalind II’
painted 460 years later. Henry Moore’s watercolour and crayon drawing of a
seated family group bears a formal relationship to Dirck Hals’ 17th century
group of music makers.
Life and colour emanate from a floral still life by Jacob van
Walscapelle, c 1675-79, just as it does in Samuel John Peploe’s 1920s painting
of roses and oranges.
There is something completely harmonious between a 17th century
still life composition of Hubert van Ravestyn and an abstract still life by Ben
Nicholson in the 1930s, just as there is between an 18th century Venetian Canal
scene by Michele Marieschi and a busy industrial river scene by LS Lowry in
Did the modern artists look at the Old Masters?
Undoubtedly. That Monet and the Impressionists were influenced by JMW Turner is
brought home by a comparison of Claude Monet’s atmospheric view of the Normandy
coastline in 1882 with Turner’s awe inspiring landscape that engulfs the ruined
Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire in 1824. The overriding meaning of these
juxtapositions is that the qualities of good painting are timeless; they do not
Richard Green is proud to announce that the Cincinnati Art Museum has acquired from the gallery the magnificent Portrait of Sir James and Lady Hodges, their sons John, James and Henry, and their daughters Mary and Elizabeth (The Hodges Family) by Nathaniel Dance.
This important group portrait was painted circa 1766, after Dance (1735-1811) returned from Rome where he worked as an assistant of Pompeo Batoni, and is a major addition to the museum’s European paintings collection. It had been in the Hodges family for more than two centuries and is in exceptional condition. The Curator of European Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, Dr Esther Bell, who championed the acquisition, points to the virtuoso handling of paint, the dynamic composition, and the handsome sophistication with which Dance imbued the sitters.
Now on view at the Cincinnati Art Museum: Portrait of Sir James and Lady Hodges, their sons John, James and Henry, and their daughters Mary and Elizabeth by Nathaniel Dance (Oil on canvas, 56¼ x 61¼ in / 143 x 155.5 cm; circa 1766)
Commissioned by Sir James and Lady Hodges;
bequeathed by Lady Hodges in her Will of 26th July 1784 (proved 6th August 1787) to her daughter Elizabeth;
by inheritance to her niece Mary Hodges (c.1738-1831), daughter of Rev. Henry Hodges, who married secondly, in 1785, Sir Peter Nugent, subsequently 2nd Bt. (c.1745-1799) of Donore, Co. Westmeath;
by descent in the Nugent family
Corey Piper, ‘A contribution to the iconography of Maria Walpole (1736-1807): a portrait by Nathaniel Dance (1748-1827)’, The British Art Journal, vol. XII, no.2, Autumn 2011, pp.9-10, illus. in colour