News & Exhibitions

Portraitist of the great figures of the avant-garde art world of his time, master of the still lifes and, finally, a symbolist entranced by Wagnerian legends and mystical fantasy, Fantin-Latour cannot be placed in any particular category. He was certainly not constrained by the disciplines of academicism but, although a friend of and even exhibiting with the impressionists, his exquisite paintings of flowers and fruit reflect a much older artistic tradition. Now a new exhibition of his work (Fantin-Latour, à Fleur du Peau) has been staged at the Musée du Luxembourg (closing on 12 February 2017), which not only includes all aspects of his painted oeuvre but a series of photographs.

When we acquired this portrait of a young girl by the Jewish woman artist Clémence Roth (1858-1908) we knew no more about her than her birth and death dates. We soon discovered that there was an oft-exhibited painting by her in the Musée des Beaux Arts at Morlaix, of a young girl holding an orange – this turned out to be a portrait of her daughter about whose later life we know little.

Clémence Roth, Young Girl holding an Orange, Musée des Beaux Arts, Morlaix

Our painting had been included in a small museum exhibition of women artists and was illustrated in a recent book on women artists (Femme Artistes, by Sylvie Buisson), but we have been unable to identify the sitter even though it is set in a fashionable winter garden, with stained glass windows in which two coats of arms are partially visible.

After a successful fair at La Biennale Paris, we are back at the gallery and our attention now turns to the busy Autumn Art Season here in London.  Come in and visit the gallery over the coming weeks as we exhibit Old Masters and 19th century paintings by Algardi, Goya, Greuze and Blanche to coincide with Frieze Masters art fair in Regent's Park, and early 20th century paintings by Marcel-Béronneau and Boutet de Monvel to compliment PAD London Art + Design, which is just around the corner in Berkeley Square.   For more information, please contact the gallery. ...

We salute the French people for their bravery during a time of great tragedy and loss, as well as the Société Nationale des Antiquaires for their decision to remain steadfast in celebrating France’s ongoing commitment to the arts. We hope that France will remain a beacon of light and enlightenment to inspire artists and visitors alike. ‘As an artist, a man has no home in Europe save in Paris’.  ‘ F. Nietzsche This year we dedicate our stand to the great city of Paris with artists who received their training in the city or had their first early success there. These include masters such as Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Jean-Baptiste Greuze and Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, Baron Gérard and Élie Delaunay, as well as Jacques Émile Blanche, who documented Parisian intellectual life at the turn of the 20th century. The centre of our stand recalls the Belle Epoque fascination with Salomé, who inspired playwright Oscar Wilde and composer Richard Strauss as well as many artists who in turn looked to Wilde’s interpretation of the Biblical story. We shall be exhibiting four Salomé paintings by the French symbolist painter Pierre-Amédée Marcel-Béronneau, as well as the dramatic Salomé painted during the closing months of the First World War by Cuban born Spanish artist, Federico Beltran Masses.    Elizabeth & Guy Sainty La Biennale Pairs is open from the 10th – 18th of September at the Grand Palais, Paris....

A recent article in the New York Times, Can the Old Masters Be Relevant Again, seemed to paint a rather gloomy picture of the art market, particularly that for older masters. The author did hold out some hope, however, pointing out that the focus on the part of so many of the wealthiest art buyers on contemporary art left great opportunities in the art market for real connoisseurs. There are still opportunities in the Old Master, 19th and Early 20th Century Paintings and Sculpture art markets, however, but where might such opportunities be found?

The major auction houses sell thousands of works of art every year but it is often hard for even knowledgeable collectors to have the time and expertise to check that the description given in the catalogue is accurate. The conditions of sale, even at the major auction houses, Sotheby's and Christie's, mean that the buyer cannot always rely on statements about condition while the reasonable presumption that the vendor has proper title is not guaranteed. While Phillips', another London based auction house, could never seriously compete with Sotheby's or Christie's, it was originally an art auctioneer sadly it seems to have abandoned any attempt to be seen as a forum for connoisseurship. Its new management is instead concentrating exclusively on contemporary art buyers, often speculators with no interest in art or culture of the past. Phillips's chairman (who, surprisingly, once worked for Christie's) is reported as saying "we have no intention of selling old masters pictures or 18th-, 19th-century pictures, because these markets are now so small and dwindling... The new client base at the auction houses — and the collecting tastes of those clients — have moved away from this veneration of the past." So for Phillips' and its clientele, the art market for anything other than modern and contemporary art is to be ignored as irrelevant.

Among the subjects students at the 17th and 18th century French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture were obliged to study was the human figure, and a mastery of the male nude by both those studying paintings and sculpture was an absolute requirement. The academy school, the École des Beaux Arts (now the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts), was founded as part of the Royal Academy by Louis XIV in 1648 to provide a training for painters, sculptors and architects. Each year prizes were awarded (the Prix de Rome) that entitled the winners to reside for a period of three to five years,at the Rome Academy, now situated in the magnificent Villa Medici,  where they were given expert instruction and exposure to the wonders of antiquity. Following the abolition of the prize by the then minister of Culture in 1968, artists continued to be offered the opportunity to reside at the Academy for up to eighteen months, but without the rigorous course of study prescribed by the directors of the 18th century academy.

The scandalous Princess Salomé portrayed as a temptress by Gustave Moreau, Franz von Stuck, Pierre Marcel-Béronneau , Armand Point and Federico Beltran Masses is more a construction of the Western canon than a religious figure. The portrayal of the Jewish princess in the early twentieth century owes more to Oscar Wilde and Richard Strauss than the Gospels. Salomé’s mother Herodias bore a grudge against John the Baptist’s denunciation of Herod as unlawfully married but her name is not mentioned and only appears in later re-tellings. The Gospel of Mark recounts [6:21-29]:

Beltran Masses, Hollywood, Vilma Banks, Silent Films, Portraits

Clarence Braum, Valentino, Vilma Banks, and Beltran Masses during filming

Marion Davies, William Randolph Hearst, Hollywood, Citizen Kane, Beltran for sale

Federico Beltran Masses with Marion Davies

FEDERICO BELTRAN MASSES'S HOLLYWOOD EXHIBITION

Beltran Masses and Rudolf Valentino were introduced on the French Riviera during the summer of 1924, by their mutual friend Vincente Blasco Ibanez who summered on his estate in Menton, France. Rudolph Valentino and his wife Natacha Rambova (born Winifred Shaughnessy) visited Natacha’s family in Juan les Pins, when Beltrán left for the Riviera from his home in Paris. The Valentinos had given Beltrán their card with both addresses: Juan les Pins and another in Hollywood, and the artist and actors spent a few days there together.

Now that summer is in full swing and you might be enjoying a few days holiday, why not come and visit the gallery to see a fascinating group of paintings from the 17th to the 20th centuries. The hang, spread over two floors, includes works by Goya, Vigée Le Brun, Beltran Masses, Marcel-Béronneau, Greuze and many other artists.