From Sickert to Gertler: Modern British Art from Boxted House
- The List
- 10 April 2008
NGMA, Edinburgh, until Sun 22 Jun
PAINTING/WORKS ON PAPER
This exhibition celebrates the lives of Bobby and Natalie Bevan, whose Essex home Boxted House contained numerous works by prominent 20th century modernists. It also showcases the work of Bobby’s father, Robert Polhill Bevan, a close associate of the Camden Town Group. This exhibition has evidently been thoroughly researched (although more details could perhaps have been left to the catalogue) and features a wealth of information, situating the couple within a rich and complex artistic community.
Each gallery’s display directly corresponds with a room in Boxted House, giving a sense of the paintings’ original country house setting, particularly thanks to photographs of the artworks in situ. However, while it is interesting to see which works the couple chose for their personal rooms, the juxtapositions created by these selections are not always especially illuminating. Despite fine draughtsmanship, some of Bevan senior’s landscape paintings feature a rather sugary palette, while further examples of work by his wife – also an artist – would have been welcome.
Paintings by Sickert, Gertler and their associates may prove to be the biggest draw, but visitors should not neglect the collection’s fine works on paper, including powerful drawings by Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (also look out for his sculptural pieces) and a Goya etching. Although Maggi Hambling remembered ‘the people and the gin more than the pictures’, this exhibition reinstates the art of Boxsted House to its rightful place.