Staged by the event’s chairman Stephen Ongpin in St James’s Mason’s Yard, it is one of nearly 50 shows in the largest-ever edition of the biannual art festival.
Dealers from London, elsewhere in the UK and overseas hold dedicated shows in their own or rented spaces from June 28-July 5 (some continue later into July). This is a chance to showcase top stock as collectors and curators converge on the capital for the summer season.
Ongpin’s A World Caught with the Eye and Held by the Pencil is the first exhibition dedicated to Menzel’s works on paper held in the UK since the 1980s. It consists of more than 40 compositions produced from the 1840s-90s which have been gathered from multiple sources.
Famed in his day and still one of the best-known German artists of the 19th century (especially in Europe), Menzel had a keen eye for modern life. He notably carried multiple sketchbooks in a coat filled with different-sized pockets so he could stop to draw at a moment’s notice. Though ambidextrous, he tended to draw with his left hand and started his sketchbooks at the back to prevent smudging.
Among the assortment at the show are landscapes and portraits as well as studies for finished paintings and gouaches.
Upstairs in the same building, Guy Peppiatt offers a rare Shoreham Period Samuel Palmer (1805-81) oil on paper, part of a wider show of British drawings and watercolours.
It was completed during the 1830s when Palmer lived and worked in Kent with the small group of artist friends who together formed ‘The Ancients’, united by their admiration for William Blake and idealised view of the past.
Examples from Palmer’s Shoreham period rarely come up for sale (most recently a sepia drawing sold at Sotheby’s New York for $2.42m) and today most are in museums. The oil in question, a rich, bucolic landscape, has been in the same family collection since the late 19th century.
Also in Mason’s Yard, Karen Taylor Fine Art, a newcomer to the event, stages an exhibition of British works on paper including examples by John White Abbott, Thomas Gainsborough and Thomas Rowlandson.
Meanwhile, some 34 recently rediscovered drawings by the Enlightenment Age artist Johan Zoffany (1733-1810) go on show fully catalogued at the returning Savile Row dealership Andrew Clayton-Payne. London to Lucknow comprises part of a collection that came to light at a Bruun Rasmussen auction in Copenhagen last year and adds significantly to the body of his drawings.
Until this group emerged, only around 30 were known, the majority of which were held by institutions such as the British Museum.
It was assembled originally by Zoffany for his patron Major General Claude Martin. The general was a self-made man who amassed a fortune by the time of his death – leaving a large part of it to charity – and befriending the artist. The selection is thought to have been compiled to celebrate their relationship and common interests, and includes images of the patron’s family, humorous scenes and allegories.
A more recent selection is offered at Ordovas, also on Savile Row, in Always Drawing. This show features Colombian artist José Antonio Suárez Londoño (b.1955) works produced since 1997.
Northern European focus
Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities are on offer from Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch as well as Ariadne Galleries, while Charles Beddington offers paintings by Canaletto, Bellotto and their circle. However, a number of shows focus on highlights from northern Europe and Great Britain.
Said to be nearly 20 years in the making, Medieval Art in England at Sam Fogg spans the 6th century to the Reformation. Wood sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, Nottingham alabasters, metalwork and ceramics are all on offer.
The gallery cites Brexit as one of the show’s influences. In an age when the country faces “questions of identity and independence”, the exhibition emphasises the influence of foreign ideas, trade and craftsmanship on medieval England’s culture and art.
Many of the offerings are previously unpublished or little known. A private collection of Anglo-Saxon metalwork, Yorkist stained glass windows painted with visual propaganda and books of hours illuminated with a composition from contemporary opus anglicanum embroideries are all included.
On nearby Avery Row, returning dealership John Mitchell Fine Paintings will balance its presence at Masterpiece with From Fjord to Forest, an exhibition of oil paintings by 19th century Swiss, German and Norwegian artists.
Featuring images of trees and wilderness, the show explores the solitude and contemplation experienced by these artists as they worked en plein air or in their studios.
Other key highlights exhibited during the event include the Renaissance court casket by the Master of Perspective, Nuremberg, which comes from the Newbattle Abbey collection. It has been placed under export bar and is now presented by Trinity Fine Art and Georg Laue, Kunstkammer.
S Franses features The Lost Tapestries of Charles I in a show dedicated to those the ruler owned or commissioned, including the once-lost tapestry of Vulcan Cast Down.
LAW regularly hosts dealers from overseas who come to hold shows in rented spaces and existing galleries.
This year Paolo Antonacci Roma offers 19th and 20th century European paintings and works on paper in Bury Street, while Galerie Michel Descours brings Heroines and Muses in European Painting, 1600- 1900 to show with host Lampronti Gallery.
F Baulme, another Parisian dealer, joins for the first time, bringing a selection of Old Masters to Chris Beetles’ gallery on Ryder Street.
Another newcomer is Ambrose Naumann Fine Art of New York. Its focus is late 19th and early 20th century European art with a rich offering from Belgium. It stages Lines of Time with hosts the Tomasso Brothers.
LAW also encompasses the major auction houses, Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Bonhams, whose auctions run during this week. There is an extensive public events programme continuing throughout.