Highlights from London Art Week dealers showing at Frieze Masters
Written by Silke Lohmann | 16 October 2021
Everyone has eagerly anticipated the first proper fair after lockdown in London and this week Frieze Masters has opened.
We have visited our London Art Week dealers exhibiting there and have picked a few highlights we wanted to share with you.
Launch of the Argo, the masterpiece discovered in a private collection in 2021, was painted by the child prodigy Jules van Biesbroeck in 1889, when he was just 16 years old.
The colossal canvas - measuring 271 x 550 cm - was presented at the Paris Salon des Champs-Élysées in 1890 as a 'revenge' against the elitist academic establishment that 'blackballed' the artist's access at the Grand Prix de Rome the previous year.
Representing two dozen life-size nude men, balletically towing the legendary ship, it scandalised the establishment and the artist was forced by the jury to go to Paris and 'cover' the nudes with the drapery we see on them today, but it also won the teenager a Mention honorable for its outstanding quality.
The painting went missing sometime after the Salon, and was only discovered by chance in 2021, rolled up - and forgotten about - in the attic of a suburban home in Belgium.
Van Biesbroek, despite his young age and typically academic choice of subject matter, was not only aware of the stylistic developments of his Symbolist contemporaries, like Jean Delville (1867 - 1963), but also of the great Renaissance and Mannerist masters from the 16th century, such as Michelangelo and Pontormo.
Depicting Triton, a sea deity from Greek mythology, the present stoneware sculpture is based on the marble centrepiece of the Fountain of the Moor at the southern end of Piazza Navona, Rome, executed by the Baroque master Gian Lorenzo Bernini in about 1653. The naked Triton is depicted struggling with a dolphin, as his dishevelled hair underlines his association with the realm of the elemental forces of nature. The finely sculpted musculature of the body is influenced by classical models, which Bernini animated with the vigour and expressive force characteristic of the Baroque. The facial features of the Triton led some to later refer to the sculpture as a 'Moor'.
Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd
This fluid roundel was made by George Romney in the 1780s, based on a composition he had used in a portrait of Hester Grenville and her sister Catherine.
The two figures recall a mythological scene, possibly Hebe and an attendant. Hebe was used as a personification of youth and in 18th century British portraiture, young women were regularly shown in the guise of Hebe. The bold, sketch-like quality of this painting and its pendant, identified depicting Venus and Adonis, their circular format and the fact that they were painted on mahogany panels perhaps points to their use in a decorative scheme, rather than as standalone paintings.
This charming sculpture in white marble represents a goat. The animal is standing on its four legs. It feels both lifelike and decorative.
The Roman sculptor was able to represent the thickness and suppleness of the animal's fleece with great skill and its muscles visibly tensing under its skin. It is holding its head straight and looking ahead with big, smooth, laughing eyes, eyelids hooding its eyes. Its jaw is slightly open, giving it a smiling expression that is also emphasised by its abundant goatee. Its facial features are both realistic and gentle, and its attitude almost humanised.
When he arrived in England in 1871, soon after the Paris Commune, Jacques-Joseph Tissot had already anglicised his first name to James and soon became the most celebrated Anglo-French artist. Tissot focused on narrative paintings with elegant subjects and became very successful in Victorian England.
His observation of London life, his technical dexterity and his taste for realism right into the smallest detail, were inspired by Baudelaire's writings in "Le Peintre de la vie moderne", a series of essays published in the Figaro. He became passionate about female fashion, making it an intrinsic element of his work.
Thanks to his register of domestic accounting, we know that his most prolific period, generating the biggest income, was between 1872 and 1874, when he was under contract with Agnew's and Pilgeram & Lefèvre galleries, showing his work at many important exhibitions; he frequently met with Whistler, Millais and Alma-Tadema.
This watercolour is a study for "Waiting at the Station, Willesden Junction", now at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, New Zealand.
Only two examples of this Italian Majolica Aquamanile from the 15th Century are known, one is held at the V&A in London and the other one can be found in the collection of the Cassa di Risparmio in Peruggia.
They are structured in an identical way, this Cavalier stands out from the others because of its singular shape and sculptural ambition. The overflow is hidden in the Cavalier's chest and the handle at its back.
Blurring boundaries between the Sumptuary Arts and Folk Art, this Aquamanile reflects the influence of traditional works of art of the Quattrocento: children toys carved in wood, ex-voto and other figures presented in the rich artisanal production of the country.