The Fine Art Society is presenting an anniversary celebration of 140 years of British art. This major exhibition will take over all five floors of the gallery and reflects its tastes and exhibiting history, past and present. The show is part of a carefully curated programme of exhibitions throughout 2016 celebrating the 140th anniversary of The Fine Art Society and highlighting its prominence and connoisseurship in the history of the British art market. Among the 50 significant artists included in the exhibition will be: Edward Bawden, Frank Brangwyn, Edward Burne-Jones, John Everett Millais, Gluck, David Hockney, William Holman Hunt, Augustus John, Peter Lanyon, Gerald Laing, Frederick Lord Leighton, Paul Nash, C.R.W. Nevinson, Ben Nicholson, Samuel Palmer, Eric Ravilious, Anne Redpath, Walter Sickert, John Singer Sargent, Stanley Spencer and James McNeill Whistler.
Founded in 1876, The Fine Art Society has always championed living artists, holding historic exhibitions that have since entered the canon of art history. Described as “The Best Shop in London” by Walter Sickert, the crowds attending the most popular shows in the nineteenth century were often so big that the traffic in Bond Street was brought to a standstill.
In the early days, the gallery supported avant-garde artists such as James McNeill Whistler and Walter Sickert, playing a fundamental role in the promotion of their art. At the turn of the twentieth century, the gallery showed its commitment to modernity by promoting the then-radical New Sculpture movement and supporting avant-garde female artists such as Gluck and Ithell Colquhoun. In the second half of the twentieth century The Fine Art Society played a pioneering role in the revival of interest in the New English Art Club, the Glasgow Boys, the Birmingham Group, the Aesthetic Movement, the Arts and Crafts Movement, inter-war sculpture and post war design. Contemporary artists represented by the gallery today include the renowned light artist Chris Levine and Chinese artist Jacky Tsai.
Today, The Fine Art Society enjoys a unique position in the historical and cultural landscape of the city as London’s oldest art dealership still based in its original location – a Grade II listed, five storey townhouse at 148 New Bond Street in Mayfair with a façade designed by the prolific Victorian designer-architect E. W. Godwin (1833 -1886) in 1881. Godwin’s design was based on a single arch from the loggia of the Manoir d’Ango in Normandy, which he had sketched earlier and published in the Building News in 1874.