What sets London Art Week apart from other events is not just the quality of the works for sale – which range from antiquities to modern painting – but the historical breadth and scope of the exhibitions on offer. This year, 40 exhibitors – 37 dealers and three auction houses – hope to pique the interest of collectors and museum curators with their displays.
Among the major exhibitions, be sure to catch ‘Texture’ at Ariadne Galleries. This intriguing, materials-focused display features rare antiquities selected for their unusual textural qualities – including a 2nd- or 1st-century BC Greek fulcrum terminal in the form of a horse’s head – alongside paintstick drawings by Richard Serra. With a more traditional curatorial approach, but extraordinary in terms of its scale and ambition as a selling exhibition, Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd presents ‘The Spirit and Force of Art: Drawing in Britain 1600–1750’. The result of 10 years of collecting by the two dealers, this show features almost 100 British drawings from the 17th and early 18th centuries – a frequently overlooked period, but one which here introduces artists from William Byron (the poet’s grandfather) to the students of the academy on Great Queen Street, whose life drawings predate the formation of the Royal Academy by 60 years.
More works on paper are on display at Stephen Ongpin Fine Art, which presents ‘Oudry to Gauguin: French Drawings of the 18th and 19th Centuries’. Of the 60 drawings on show, including works by the Barbizon school and the Impressionists, don’t miss Nicolas Huet the Younger’s pen and watercolour sketch of an Indian elephant from 1810. Artur Ramon is offering a striking gouache from 1920 by Juan Gris, while Galleria del Laocoonte and Galleria W. Apolloni, newcomers to LAW from Rome, have curated an Italian art exhibition that includes the first drawing made by the little-known Futurist painter, Marisa Mori.
There are some spectacular individual works on display, not least the full-length portrait of a man by Artemisia Gentileschi at Robilant + Voena. Few portraits by this extraordinary woman artist of the Renaissance are known, though she was lauded in her day as a skilled portraitist; this one is a recent, significant attribution. Another new participant from Italy – Antonacci Lapiccirella Fine Art – offers the first chance to see Canova’s Self-portrait of Giorgione in London. This piece of cunning and skilled execution notoriously fooled Canova’s contemporaries, who thought it a true Giorgione. Long believed to be lost, it has only recently been rediscovered.
A number of Belgian galleries feature for the first time at this year’s event, offering between them a wide variety of Old Master works of the Northern Renaissance. The exhibition at Galerie Lowet de Wotrenge includes a newly discovered work by Frans Pourbus the Elder, father of the renowned court painter. Klaas Muller specialises in Renaissance works from Italy and Antwerp, with a particular interest in Rubens. Finally, Jan Muller, Klaas’s cousin, presents an exhibition on the theme of ‘Life and Death’, with a range of Dutch flower paintings juxtaposed with vanitas still lifes.
London Art Week takes place across various venues in Mayfair and St James’s from 29 June–6 July.
From the June 2018 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.