In the oil Painter in his Atelier in Rome by Michel-Martin Drolling (1786-1851), an artist stands alone at a window, light streaming in, surrounded by his work. Though he is evidently a landscape painter, he is depicted here drawing his dog.
The painting – which is an unintentional visual parallel of lockdown life in 2020 – is one of the many works on offer at this summer’s edition of London Art Week (LAW). It is available for €65,000 + VAT from Munich gallery Arnoldi-Livie.
Intimate spaces serve as an unofficial theme for this staging of the event, which will look different to ever before. Usually it takes place at the galleries around Mayfair and St James’s, with local and visiting dealers holding dedicated exhibitions of ‘pre-contemporary’ art. This year, in light of the continuing coronavirus disruption, LAW has created an online space where participants can offer their works individually and through specially curated mixed displays in ‘Viewing Rooms’, offering visitors an easy way to discover new dealers. The event will open first for an invitation only private view on July 2 and run until July 10.
More participants than ever before (around 50) have signed up, thanks in part to the reduced costs and greater geographical flexibility associated with an online event.
Chairman Stephen Ongpin says he started turning over ideas for the event after returning from the curtailed run of TEFAF Maastricht in March. He told ATG: “I realised that, even assuming freedom of movement would be possible in July, LAW would unlikely to have as many foreign exhibitors or a lot of foreign clients coming to London.”
LAW Digital was set up as a way to welcome overseas interest and participation. However, it is not meant to replace the usual programme of exhibitions. Now that government restrictions have lifted, most of the London dealers are opening by appointment only for socially distanced shows. Stephen Ongpin, Sladmore Gallery, Oliver Forge & Brendan Lynch, and Benappi Fine Art are among those opening.
Intimate spaces pop up throughout the extensive schedule of shows planned for this year, such as in the joint exhibition The Studiolo: From Renaissance to Modern held by Kunstkammer Georg Laue and new participant Stuart Lochhead Sculpture. Historically the studiolo was a private place to read, think and, importantly, handle collections. The show brings together objects of interest from across many years, as a Renaissance collection would have done.
Among the treasures is a French 17th century earthenware gondola cup containing figures of Venus as summer and Adonis as autumn.
These decorative vessels show a couple in a bath and became popular at the French court, where they served as amusing and erotic pieces which the owner could admire in the intimacy of a study. It is joined by other highlights such as a 16th century bronze griffin mortar and a sculpture by Théodore Géricault (1791-1824).
Meanwhile, Trinity Fine Art presents Art and the Domestic Space, aiming to recreate Renaissance and Baroque living areas. It examines the role of art at that time as a tool for exalting the role of the family that lived there. Highlights include a terracotta statue of Mars (1565-75) by Stoldo Lorenzi, offered for a price in the region of £340,000.
Newcomers to the event include Panter & Hall, which presents ‘lost’ drawings by Steven Spurrier, the British illustrator who was the first to work on Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons. Osborne Samuel also joins this year with a selection of rare prints by Paul Nash and CRW Nevinson as well as other works of Modern British art. International joiners include Galerie Canesso of Paris, presenting Caravaggism and Tenebrism in 17th Century Italy.
Returning to LAW after several years away is Philip Mould & Company, which offers Portrait of a Young Girl in a White Apron, c.1630, by Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641) available for a price in the region of £2.5m.
Portraiture is another popular theme this year. Lullo Pampoulides hosts In Silent Conversation: Portraits from the 16th to 20th Centuries, which includes a 19th century terracotta bust of Ceres by Étienne Hippolyte Maindron (1801-84), while Sam Fogg presents 40 works under the banner Medieval Faces. Galleria Carlo Virgilio stages In Silent Conversation: Portraits from the 16th-20th Centuries.
Other shows include British Women Artists 1780-1890 – A Selection of Works on Paper from Karen Taylor Fine Art, and The Sculpture Museum presented by Tomasso Brothers Fine Art.