From Minnekästchen to Mary Shelley Memorabilia, A Checklist of Must-See Works During London Art Week 2018

  • LONDON, United Kingdom
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  • November 27, 2018

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Hilda May Gordon's Cremation of King Rama IV of Siam (1924), from the exhibition "Hilda May Gordon: Artist, Adventurer" at Martyn Gregory.

From Thursday 29 November to Friday 7 December, London Art Week includes events at 32 galleries and auction houses in St. James’s and Mayfair.

Portrait Stars 

There is a flowering of interest in Old Master portraiture, and LAW Winter 2018 provides plenty of inspiration.  As Cesare Lampronti of Lampronti Gallery, says: “Man’s desire to celebrate his appearance through portraiture in order to present individuality and uniqueness remains a relevant theme that continues to define our time.”

  • Works by Annibale Carracci, a youthful Anthony Van Dyck, and Giovanni Battista Moroni, are stars of the show at Lampronti Gallery presenting 17th and 18th Century Portraits as an exhibition theme.
  • Bagshawe Fine Art has recently re-discovered a quietly sympathetic portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence P.R.A. (1769-1830) of his friend, the lawyer Samuel Rose (1767-1804) who successfully defended the poet William Blake against a charge of high treason in 1804. Rose had a number of literary connections, among them the poet William Cowper and the novelist Fanny Burney.  Rose's sister married Burney's brother Charles and this picture descended in their family.
  • At Ben Elwes Fine Art is Queen Charlotte, consort to King George III, by Benjamin West, PRA (1738-1820).  Painted in 1776, the year her 11th child, Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh was born, it shows the Queen seated, looking pensive yet serene, dressed in lustrous grey satin and organza, bows and ruffles, and with needlework in her lap.
  • Portraits by current artistic heroine Artemesia Gentileschi, her circle, including her daughter Prudenzia, and later artists influenced by her power, feature at The Gentileschi Effect, Robilant + Voena: a talk on the subject is being hosted at the gallery as part of LAW.
  • The auction houses – Bonhams, Christie’s and Sotheby’s – all have fine examples in their Old Master Sales, including royal portraits by Sir Antony van Dyck.

Woman Artist Earns Way Around the World With Brush (exhibition and talk)

Marking the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's masterpiece, Frankenstein, Callisto Fine Arts has teamed up with Peter Harrington Rare Books to celebrate the author, including display of this extremely rare marble portrait bust of the author by Camillo Pistrucci (1811-1854).

Thus ran the headline of the New York Evening Post of 13 March 1928, as Hilda May Gordon (1874-1972) neared the end of a remarkable journey; six and half years touring the globe, paid for by sales of her vivid, expressive little paintings at exhibitions along the way.  Martyn Gregory reveals the art and the story - how she sketched everyday life, religious festivals, devastating volcanoes and the cremation of a King.  Hilda travelled on ponies, yaks and elephants; lived in native huts, tents, palaces and on houseboats, and was entertained by monks and Maharajahs alike.  A special talk takes place on Wednesday, 5 December, 6pm at Martin Gregory (34 Bury Street, St. James’s SW1)

Masterworks in Marble 

Lullo Pampoulides is showing a recent rediscovery: the beautiful Helen Huth (1837-1924) by eminent Scottish sculptor Alexander Munro (1825-1871), a talented associate of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, with its pendant of her husband Louis Huth (1821-1905). The busts, exhibited at the RA in 1860, were thought to be lost.  Helen and Louis Huth were major art collectors and significant patrons of contemporary artists; Helen was portrayed by Whistler (Arrangement in Black, No. 2, Portrait of Mrs. Louis Huth) and G. F. Watts on more than one occasion. 

  • Completed for Florence’s powerful Gerini family only months prior to the artist’s death in 1762, Faun with a Kid (after the antique) by Giovanni Battista Piamontini (1690-1762) is with Trinity Fine Art.  The marble sculpture was commissioned as a pendant to Milo (after the antique) by Giovanni Battista’s father Guiseppe Piamontini (1663-1744).

Mary Shelley & Frankenstein 

Marking the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's masterpiece, Frankenstein, Callisto Fine Arts presents a unique marble portrait bust of the author by Camillo Pistrucci (1811-1854) that forms part of his LAW exhibition.  Callisto teams up on Tuesday, 4 December, 6.30pm to 8pm with Sammy Jay, a specialist in the printed works of Mary Shelley, to discuss the author, share the exciting discovery of a rare first edition of Frankenstein, and show an extraordinary collection of her autograph letters (at Peter Harrington Rare Books, Dover Street, Mayfair, W1)

A painted 'minnekästchen' casket showing two lovers and a fool, Upper Rhine Valley, Basel (?), c1490s, from Sam Fogg.

Splendours of the High Renaissance (exhibition)

Both debuting at LAW Winter 2018, Galerie Neuse of Germany, specialists in fine antique European silver and works of art, joins forces with London’s leading textile dealer, S. Franses.  Together they present Splendours of the Haute Époque: important works of art in silver and silver-gilt, displayed with Renaissance furniture and sculpture, and textiles from the extensive collection of S. Franses.  Highlights include an extremely rare group of south German Renaissance silver and silver-gilt works of art (Galerie Neuse) of a calibre not seen today outside of museums, and two exceptional tapestries from the History of Venus narrative cycle, reunited by S. Franses for the first time in 40 years.  Both tapestries were acquired by J Pierpoint Morgan Sr. and his sister Mrs. Burns from a north Italian palazzo in the early 20th century.  They were brought to England and installed along with numerous others at North Mymms Park, Hertfordshire, one of the country’s finest Jacobean homes.  One tapestry was sold when the property changed hands in 1979: but with knowledge of its whereabouts, S. Franses can now display the ‘Venus’ tapestries, examples of Brussels weaving at its 16th century height, since the contents of North Mymms Park were auctioned earlier this year.

Italian Masters (highlight works of art)

From Baroque to Expressionist, Italian art blazes a trail through LAW Winter 2018: 

  • Renaissance reality takes rapturous form in Madonna and Child by Caesare Magni, an artist documented in Milan from 1511 to around 1534, offered by Benappi.
  • The bold allegorical work of enigmatic Pseudo Caroselli, active in Rome during the first half of the 17th century, is a highlight of The Art of The Beast, at Brun Fine Art.
  • The Weiss Gallery offers a dramatic subject in The Sacrifice of Isaac by Guiseppe Vermiglio (c1587-post 1635), a mysterious yet highly gifted painter working in Rome during the first two decades of the 17th century who was profoundly influenced by Caravaggio and Carracci. 
  • Avant-garde Post-Impressionist paintings by Elisabeth Chaplin (Fontainebleau 1890-Florence 1982) rarely make it on to the market, despite her prolific output over 60 years; a large collection of her works is held by the Pitti Palace Gallery of Modern Art.  Antonacci Lapicirella Fine Art of Rome and Florence present one of her masterpieces, Two Nudes or Double Self-Portrait, painted in 1918.

Rarities and Rituals (specialist exhibitions)

Demonstrating the broad variety of fine and historic art for sale at London Art Week:

  • The artistic revelations of the current RA Oceania exhibition are reflected in microcosm at Oliver Forge & Brendan Lynch Ltd, as the gallery is presenting important and rare Oceanic art along with a selection of African ceremonial objects.  Several pieces were formerly in the collection of the great anthropologist General Pitt Rivers.  A ritual kava bowl from Fiji is one of the highlights.
  • The art of love - an astonishing survival of medieval artistry and design is a French boxwood comb late 1400s. Intricately carved with a central panel of openwork quatrefoils, the comb was a wedding gift from a husband to his new wife.  The exhibition also presents a delightful bismuth-painted trinket box c1490, decorated with a pair of young lovers overlooked by a fool in striped costume.  Medieval coffrets and caskets of this type are known by the German descriptor minnekästchen, ‘gifts of love’, or more literally ‘boxes of love’. Shown by Sam Fogg in Seven Objects, Seven Days: Art of the Middle Ages.

LAW opening times, information on talks and events, and full gallery details can be found at

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