Yesterday was a hard decision: Should I go to the British Museum or to the London International Art Fair. I chose, as may come as no surprise to go to the fair. That is what this trip is about, and I have to feel like I’ve left no stone un-turned. In addition, my intentions were also to find galleries who might be interested in representing me in the future. It was an elegant affair, and as I showed up in my usual shorts and flip flops, the prim and proper shot glances of incredulity and envy.

What I found at the fair were some terrific and some not so terrific pieces. Most vendors were resale galleries and most of the work was 18th and 19th century. There were some contemporary pieces as well as work by illustrators. And, as has become my favorite thing about English art, magnificent water colors. Here are a few:

Look at the brush work in this detail. This family of watercolorists were true virtuosos with this medium.

Also, there were quite a few by this artist scattered around the hall. He painted primarily in gouache, and you can see why his pieces were in such demand in the day.

This is a gouache by another fellow. So much is said with just two colors. The story while sentimental, is well done.

The 19th century was filled with amazing artists. People that literally could do anything with a brush. Here are some narrative pieces with their close ups. Look how masterfully every detail is rendered, and who precise and exacting their drawing was. A true testament if there ever was to the Academic Pedagogy.

I love how in this piece the young suitor is making hay with his intended conquest, his hand is not so innocently “making a move”. The young woman is flattered, but she has firmly locked her ankles together and keeps a weather eye on his lack of subtlety. Meanwhile, the old man tries to get fresh with the chambermaid, but her neck physically recoils either at his advance or his breath. Masterful story telling.

These guys could pull this off because their drawing skills were so great. Notice how in this piece, he not only gives a sense of depth of form with the concentric lines, but he merely hints at the wire rim of the glasses and yet they are so believable. Notice too that he looses the line at the bottom to give the feeling of a reflection or highlight on the bottom of the glasses, but not rendering anything at all. Absolutely masterful.

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