Pa­per chase

Works on pa­per (and even glass) en­rich souls on both sides of the At­lantic

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market -

Iwould love to be in New York just now, where the eighth an­nual Master draw­ings week con­tin­ues un­til Satur­day. Twenty-four deal­ers are show­ing in East Side gal­leries between 63rd and 86th Streets, al­most all between Park and 5th Av­enues. This means that, weather per­mit­ting—and it ap­pears likely to be com­par­a­tively clement—much can be seen in the course of a pleas­ant day’s stroll.

The orig­i­nal Lon­don draw­ings weeks, launched in 2001, had a sim­i­lar at­mos­phere, with col­lec­tors and con­nois­seurs roam­ing around the west End vil­lage, en­joy­ing, dis­cussing, re­fresh­ing and, of course, buying. Now that draw­ings have been sub­sumed into the wider sum­mer Art week, some of that friend­li­ness has been lost here, but it per­sists in New York.

Even if politi­cians rarely be­lieve it, art is not an ‘elit­ist’ lux­ury, but pos­i­tively good for peo­ple and good draw­ings have qual­i­ties that make them the best tonic of all. Ilona van Tuinen, who re­cently moved from the Fon­da­tion Cus­to­dia, Paris home of the Lugt Col­lec­tion, to the Mor­gan Li­brary in New York, un­der­stands this. She notes in a brief in­tro­duc­tion to the cur­rent event: ‘on my first day at the Fon­da­tion Cus­to­dia, di­rec­tor Ger Lui­jten pre­dicted that my time there would change my life and en­rich my soul. He was right, of course. I look for­ward to the con­tin­ued en­rich­ment dur­ing Master draw­ings week, and I hope to share this ex­pe­ri­ence with many of you.’

Six Lon­don deal­ers are show­ing in New York, in­clud­ing Mar­tyn Gregory, who is putting on two ex­hi­bi­tions: works on pa­per in­clud­ing English wa­ter­colours at Leigh Morse Fine Arts on E 80th Street and China Trade paint­ings at the Academy Man­sion, E 63rd Street.

Among the for­mer is an 8¼in by 11¼in can­vas-mounted oil-on­pa­per study by Jan wyck (1652– 1702) af­ter an im­age by Paulus Pot­ter of a leop­ard-spot­ted horse (£45,000) (Fig 1). Such horses were pro­gen­i­tors of the Ap­paloosa. Among the lat­ter, at £30,000, is a 12½in by 101¼in re­verse-glass por­trait of Capt John Cranstoun (Fig 3) of the East In­dia Com­pany by Spoilum (fl.1770–1805).

An­other New York wa­ter­colour ex­hibitor, Guy Pep­pi­att of Ma­son’s Yard, St James’s, will be hur­ry­ing back to take part in the works on Pa­per Fair at the Royal Geo­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety from Fe­bru­ary 9 to 12. There are rather fewer ex­hibitors this year, about 40, split between deal­ers in draw­ings and prints.

Among the for­mer is Pa­trick Lancz from Brus­sels who spe­cialises in works from 1880 to 1950. He will have at least one ex­am­ple by Léon Spil­li­aert, an artist whom I have come to ad­mire more and more over the past cou­ple of years and who is cur­rently re­ceiv­ing in­creased at­ten­tion not only in Bel­gium and be­yond, but even in his na­tive os­tend, where he has long played sec­ond fid­dle to his friend James En­sor.

Spil­li­aert (1881–1946) was a largely self-taught Sym­bol­ist. He dealt with lone­li­ness and melan­choly and lim­i­nal sub­jects—shore­lines and quay­sides, bridges, bare trees against twi­light skies, sun­sets and dy­ing sea­sons. His fig­ures are some­times rem­i­nis­cent of Munch, at oth­ers Lowry; Re­don and van Gogh are there, but also wadsworth. In short, in­trigu­ing, and it is no sur­prise that he il­lus­trated the Sym­bol­ist play­wright Maeter­linck.

un­like En­sor’s, his os­tend home was de­stroyed by wartime bomb­ing, but last year, at last, a pri­vate ini­tia­tive re­sulted in the open­ing

Fig 1: Jan Wyck oil-on-pa­per study. With Mar­tyn Gregory

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