LONDON AND PORTRAITURE – A LONGSTANDING RELATIONSHIP
With David Hockney’s exhibition ’82 Portraits and 1 Still-life’ being shown at the Royal Academy until October, and the identification of a portrait painted by the German Londoner Lucian Freud on a BBC television programme, London’s relationship with portraiture has never been more obvious.
London has long been an internationally recognised centre for portrait painting. This country’s special place in portraiture most likely dates back to the reformation when a sudden decline in commissioned religious art meant that artists had to diversify into different genres, with portraiture being one of them. Not only has portraiture been a strong tradition among British Artists but also the favourable climate for portraiture in the UK has drawn portraitists over from abroad. Holbein, who came over in 1526, was one of the first, but the trend has continued over time with portrait artists such as Franz Xavier Winterhalter and Philip de Lazlo making substantial parts of their careers in London.
The more eminent portrait painters tended to base their studios in London, for example de Lazlo had a studio in the Albany, Sir William Orpen in South Kensington, and John Stuart Wortley in Westbourne Terrace.
London in the present day remains at the heart of UK portraiture, and indeed the Royal Society of Portrait Painters is located in London. Our annual exhibition is held at the Mall Galleries, by Trafalgar Square, and is a must-see benchmark not only for artists but also for those wishing to commission portraits. We show about 200 recent portraits by eminent members and by emerging portrait painters to form a snapshot of portraiture today.
To learn more, read about the history of British portraiture by Sir Philip Mould on our website.
‘St Paul’s and The Millennium’ by Bhatia Varsha, featured above, is available for purchase on the Mall Gallery’s Click and Buy service.