For Anthony Crichton-Stuart, director of Thos Agnew & Sons, “it is good to do a little of everything”. The gallery is holding its own show during London Art Week as well as showing at Masterpiece.
This year the gallery has a particular reason to expend maximum effort: though the management is a recent reincarnation, it was founded 200 years ago.
To celebrate, it is offering paintings spanning six centuries. For London Art Week it will host an exhibition of works in its gallery at 6 St James’s Place focusing on Old Master works, while at Masterpiece it will concentrate on 19th and early 20th century works to “appeal to the clientele” of each event.
Crichton-Stuart says: “Agnew’s name is associated with Old Masters and Turner. But its origins are in Manchester and they were at the forefront of the growth of the wealthy collectors in the Midlands and in the north who were buying the Pre-Raphaelites. This interests me a lot. We want Agnew’s to look across a broad range of work and expand right into the early 20th century.”
Its exhibitions at Masterpiece and in its St James’s Place gallery will run in tandem.
One of the draws for collectors to London, he says, is its “unique concentration” of art and antiques businesses within a small area.
He describes it as a “sort of rugby ball shape” down from Bonhams, out towards Clifford Street and down through St James’s.
He adds: “Compare this with New York where it is certainly not walkable between, say, Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Accessibility is a draw for London visitors.”
Trying to make Old Masters ‘sexy’ is not going to happen