Views of London star at Frieze Masters, including one seen through the legs of Cromwellõs horse, and antiquities still have influence
ON a bookshelf in my study are postcards of two portraits of Eugène Delacroix. The first is by his friend Thales Fielding, dating from about 1825, when they shared a studio as young iconoclasts; the second is a self-portrait of 1837, when the success of the Anglo-french school that they had launched seemed assured.
It would be interesting to compare these images with a 173 ∕4in by 211 ∕4in head of Delacroix (Fig 1), painted between 1817 and 1819 by Théodore Géricault, which will be shown at Frieze Masters (tomorrow to Sunday) by Jeanluc Baroni of St James’s. It must date from between the very end of 1817, when Géricault had returned from Rome, where he had been studying the Old Masters and attempting to escape his affair with his aunt by marriage, and probably before he immersed himself in his masterpiece, The Raft of the Medusa. Delacroix also posed for one of the dead sailors in that painting—the wavy black hair makes his head recognisable, though face down.
The facial development in the three portraits—sulky late teenager, confident leader of the young Anglo-french artists—and successful middle age with the promise of grand old man-dom—is almost a biography without words. It only lacks the photograph taken of him by Nader towards the end of his life, when he had become truly monumental.
Frieze Masters, in its tent near London Zoo (and, of course, Frieze itself, on the southern edge of Regent’s Park) is a week earlier this year and it appears that rather more than half of the 130 or so exhibitors are primarily Modern and contemporary dealers, who tend to attract most publicity. To maintain balance, here, I will look at the older, masterly specialists.
Both Géricault and Delacroix would have relished a vivid 161 ∕8in by 111 ∕2in oil sketch of a prophet’s head (Fig 2) by Annibale Carracci (1560–1609), who, with his brother and cousin, headed a return to naturalism after the monumental artificiality of Mannerism. It is so thinly painted on paper—since laid down on a panel—that writing clearly shows through. It was from a superannuated account book— the date 1539 is very legible —making it evident that this was a sketch for studio use, rather than any kind of commission. The previ- ously unknown work is with Cesare Lampronti of Rome and St James’s.
Very different works on paper are with the antiquarian book dealer and map specialist Daniel Crouch, who is celebrating Lon-
Fig 3: Johannes Kip’s A Prospect of the City of London, Westminster and St James’s Park (about 1726). With Daniel Crouch
Fig 1: Delacroix by Géricault. With Jean-luc Baroni. Oil sketch of a prophet’s head by Carracci. With Cesare Lampronti