The Fine Art Society Celebrates its History at Sotheby’s Auction

Image courtesy of Sotheby's

After 142 years on New Bond Street, one of London’s oldest commercial art galleries, The Fine Art Society, is marking a new chapter by offering over 300 works in a Sotheby’s auction taking place in February 2019. 

The sale on 5 February 2019 will see pieces by some of the most distinguished artists of the last 150 years go under the hammer.

Perhaps most significant is James McNeill Whistler—one of the first and most celebrated artists to exhibit in the Mayfair galleries.

The upcoming sale will include 11 prints by the artist, including The Rialto (c.1879-80), which is estimated to fetch between £7,000 and £10,000.

Transforming the medium, Whistler was the first artist to produce etchings in signed, limited editions.

The Fine Art Society’s iconic flag, created by the ‘godfather’ of British Pop Art, Sir Peter Blake in 2012, will also appear at auction to help tell the institution’s story. It is estimated to reach £700-1,000.

Also featuring in the collection is work by bohemian and social pioneer, ‘Gluck’. Born Hannah Gluckstein, the remarkable 20th-century artist, had begun to call herself Gluck and to dress in men’s clothing by the age of 23. Flora’s Cloak (c.1923) has an estimate of £80,000-120,000.

Meanwhile, work by Sir George Frampton—one of the most highly regarded sculptors of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras—will also be joining the sale.

Frampton’s most famous work, a statue of J.M. Barrie’s beloved literary character, Peter Pan, remains a favourite feature of Kensington Gardens in London.

One of eight full-scale versions of the cast, commissioned by The Fine Art Society from the artist’s estate in 1987, will be offered in the sale—estimated to fetch between £80,000-120,000.

The Fine Art Society Celebrates its History at Sotheby’s Auction
George James Frampton
Peter Pan
Est: £80,000 – 120,000

Custom-made ‘office furniture’ made to complement the works of art at the Bond Street galleries will also head to the auction. A mahogany table by George Faulkner Armitage is expected to realise £10,000-15,000.

Following its foundation in 1876, The Fine Art Society became the centre of London’s art world—the first gallery to commission a purpose-built gallery space, the pioneer of the ‘one-man exhibition’ and the provider of the concept for modern ‘white cube’ exhibitions and galleries.

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.

‘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,’ she added.

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