A CELEBRATION OF THE FINE ART SOCIETY ARRIVES AT SOTHEBY'S LONDON IN 2019
Did anyone wonder where The Fine Art Society had disappeared to? Fear not, it is still in existance. The 142 year old gallery on New Bond Street has relocated from their iconic Mayfair space earlier this year. To mark this new chapter, they are to offer over 300 works in an auction at Sotheby’s in February. The Fine Art Society is one of London’s oldest art spaces, founded in 1876 and has championed living artists, either bringing their work to the public’s attention for the first time, or presenting it in unexpected ways.
This much-loved historic institution has made a real impact on London and the world contributing to an evolution of the art market. The sale in February 2019 will include pieces by some of the most prominent artists of the last 150 years, to include James McNeil Whistler, whose ideas influenced not only the art world but also the broader culture of the late 19th-century, alongside ‘godfather’ of British Pop Art, Sir Peter Blake.
When The Fine Art Society’s founders signed the lease on ‘a fancy goods shop’ at number 148 New Bond Street in 1876, they were the first gallerists to set up in an area which has now become the centre of London’s art world (Sotheby’s moved in across the road in 1917). When they commissioned the progressive English architect-designer E.W. Godwin to redesign the this five-story Mayfair townhouse in 1881, they became the first gallery to commission a purpose built gallery space.
In the same year, when they launched major shows of Samuel Palmer and John Everett Millais, they became pioneers of the ‘one-man exhibition’. And when in 1883 they allowed Whistler to hang his Venetian etchings (a project commissioned by the gallery), in a continuous line, single-hung, on white felt walls, this was the start of our modern concept of how exhibitions and art galleries should look.
The Fine Art Society Chair, Annamarie Phelps CBE, said: “This sale is a celebration of The Fine Art Society’s contribution to the British art world since the Victorian era, when our shows shocked, delighted and occasionally scandalised audiences. The artworks we have selected are those which are most representative of our time on New Bond Street, and illustrate some of our long-forgotten stories. We have always been a contemporary art gallery and we have always looked forward. In this spirit, after nearly 150 years on New Bond Street, the time has come to find a new location for The Fine Art Society where we can continue to develop our artistic programme for the next 150 years. The sale marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of an exciting new one.”
Harry Dalmeny, Sotheby’s UK Chairman, said: "Throughout their history, The Fine Art Society has always embraced what is cutting edge and new, whilst never afraid of being a little unconventional and recherché at the same time. The radical approach of this New Bond Street gallery in the Victorian era provided the prototype for the modern 'white cube' art spaces we see across the world today. Now, this sale offers collectors the chance to buy their own piece of the history of this venerable London institution.