MODERN MASTERS

A CENTURY OF BRITISH ART

1895 - 1995 

 

Stretching from the birth of Modern Art at the beginning of the twentieth century through the blossoming of abstraction in the 1930s, and to painting and sculpture created in the aftermath of the Second World War, this exhibition illustrates the impressive diversity and innovation that characterises the very best modern British Art.

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  • WORKS

     

  • Walter Sickert, Study for Interior of St Mark's, Venice, 1895-96

    Walter Sickert

    Study for Interior of St Mark's, Venice, 1895-96

    Alongside Dieppe and Camden Town, Venice was a metropolis of outstanding artistic importance to Walter Sickert. It was during the unravelling of his first marriage to Ellen Cobden, a woman twelve years his senior, that he took to the continent and began a decade-long artistic relationship with the townscape of Venice. His first visit lasted for much of the period between May 1895 and September 1896, and he returned there frequently until 1905 when he settled in London. Between 1895 and 1905, his chief subject was the façade of St Mark’s Cathedral viewed from the Piazza, but he also painted Sta Maria del Salute, the Bridge of Sighs, and the former Scuole Grande di San Marco among many other places.

    • Mark Gertler, Still Life, Flowers, 1917
      Mark Gertler, Still Life, Flowers, 1917
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    • Paul Nash, Autumn Landscape, 1923
      Paul Nash, Autumn Landscape, 1923
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    • Vanessa Bell, Self-Portrait, 1952, c.
      Vanessa Bell, Self-Portrait, 1952, c.
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  • Ben Nicholson, November 1959 (Mycenae 3 - brown and blue), 1959

    Ben Nicholson

    November 1959 (Mycenae 3 - brown and blue), 1959

    ‘I have favourite places — Mycenae and Pisa, and Siena, for instance — and I feel that in a previous life I must have laid two or three of the stones in Siena Cathedral, or even perhaps one or two of those at Mycenae!’

     

    Throughout his career the idea and experience of Greece resonated deeply for Nicholson and continued to find its way into his work. Although he did not visit Greece until spring 1959, he returned to the region on four occasions in the subsequent years.

    • Ben Nicholson, September 1961, 1961
      Ben Nicholson, September 1961, 1961
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    • Bryan Wynter, Maremma, 1961
      Bryan Wynter, Maremma, 1961
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    • John Hoyland, 16.9.66, 1966
      John Hoyland, 16.9.66, 1966
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    • William Crozier, Black Lake, 1969
      William Crozier, Black Lake, 1969
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  • Craigie Aitchison, Alan McNaught with Bird, 1970

    Craigie Aitchison

    Alan McNaught with Bird, 1970

    Craigie Aitchison was deeply fond of birds. He allowed uncaged canaries to fly about his home in Kennington and birds are a recurring subject in his work, occurring in still-life, landscape, portrait and crucifixion subjects alike. In this portrait, a green canary perches on a small branch, a complement to the portrait subject. 

     

    The sitter in this painting is Alan McNaught, who sat for Aitchison in various portraits between the 1960s and the 1980s. Aitchison would explain that, beside their black skin, other colours ‘jump’ forward. 

    • Ben Nicholson, Off brown and red and striped mug, 1979
      Ben Nicholson, Off brown and red and striped mug, 1979
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    • Lucie Rie, Vase, 1981, c.
      Lucie Rie, Vase, 1981, c.
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    • Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Newton After Blake, 1995
      Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Newton After Blake, 1995
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  • Lucie Rie, Bottle Vase, 1980, c.

    Lucie Rie

    Bottle Vase, 1980, c.

    In the mid-nineteen-seventies, towards the end of her life, Lucie Rie began to develop more elaborate silhouettes in her pottery. She had previously specialised in short pots and footed bowls, both of a distinctive elementary design. Her introduction of a double curve into her vases was a decisive move away from these earlier, simpler pieces. This new feature came to typify her later work, the double curve indicating the new complexity she sought. Breaking with the founding convention of studio pottery, namely that a pot is spun on the wheel from a single piece of clay, this vase belongs to a small group of composite pots that Rie made in the nineteen-seventies. The conventionally bulb-like base of the vase is surmounted by a tall bulging neck – an elaborate outline which developed from Rie’s style of flared-lip vases. The two rounded parts of the vase were spun separately, only being joined later during firing.

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