The National Trust, as part of its programme of New Art in London, is staging a photographic exhibition in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery at Hampstead’s historic Fenton House.
Fenton House, a 17th century merchant’s house, is a hidden gem in London with spectacular views over the city and a beautifully laid out garden. The last owner, Lady Binning who bought the house in 1936, filled it with collections of decorative porcelain, Georgian furniture and 17th century needlework. It also houses a selection of early keyboard instruments and some 55 pictures left by the actor Peter Barkworth, including works by Duncan Grant, Walter Sickert and views of Hampstead by Charles Ginner and John Constable. Well worth a visit in its own right.
The exhibition ‘Hampstead’s Village People: Portraits of Cultural Icons’ celebrates some of Hampstead’s best-known intellectual and artistic residents past and present. The achievements of those featured, which covers the fields of literature, fine art, music and the theatre, are testament to Hampstead’s long-standing reputation as a centre for artistic endeavour. The list of past and present Hampstead residents is endless from such 18th and 19th century residents as artists John Constable and George Romney and the poet John Keats through the early 20th century artists such as Roland Penrose, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson to the latter half of the 20th century when the focus shifted towards the performing arts with such residents as Richard Burton, Jacqueline du Pre and through to the current day with the internationally renowned residents of Boy George, Helena Bonham-Carter and Ricky Gervais. Many feature in this show.
Drawn from the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, vintage prints by early studio photographers such as Claude Harris sit alongside the work of acclaimed modern and contemporary photographers including Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson, Angus McBean, Yousuf Karsh and Lord Snowdon. It includes portraits of musicians as diverse as Edward Elgar and George Michael, writers Edith Sitwell and Alan Hollinghurst, artists Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth and actors Richard Burton and Judi Dench.
The exhibition is displayed in one of Fenton House’s grand reception rooms. It gives the work a domestic scale. One could almost imagine that you are entering a 1960s salon, in the heart of what once was London’s thriving centre for art and literature.
Fenton House and Gardens 1 March – 29 June 2014