The art critic and author Andrew Lambirth bought his first painting as a student at Nottingham University in the late 1970s. Since then he has built up a collection of paintings, drawings and prints which focuses on the artists he has known and written about. Modern British art is his chief enthusiasm. As he says: ‘I still find it hard to believe that I have on my walls pictures by some of the artists I first read about as a star-struck teenager poring over John Rothenstein’s Modern English Painters.’
Lambirth’s collection is testament to what can be achieved with a modest budget and assiduous searching. Undoubtedly his connections in the art world have helped. He began his career with a brief spell as a porter at Sotheby’s, and his acquaintance with a wide range of commercial art galleries must now equal his knowledge of public galleries and museums. He collects by artist but also by theme: one of his chosen themes is trees, another is self-portraits.
This exhibition concentrates on portraits and self-portraits drawn from his collection, in a variety of media, from etchings and lithographic prints, to collage, oil painting and pencil drawing. The range is wide: from the gentle surrealism of Eileen Agar to the witty Pop art of Allen Jones, via Maggi Hambling’s ink portrait of her father and Laetitia Yhap’s pregnant nude self-portrait. Artists include Augustus John, David Jones, RB Kitaj, Leon Kossoff, John Nash and Walter Sickert, along with a host of lesserknown but intriguing figures. There are both formal pictures made for exhibition, and others which are quick studies. Here is something for all tastes: fine drawing, humour, sonorous colour, the human condition in all its variety. The only unifying factor is that the collection is one man’s taste.
Image top: Jeffrey Camp, Portrait of Laetitia, Oil on Board
Image above: Maggi Hambling, Portrait of my Father, Ink
Thomas Gainsborough (1727-88) was born in Sudbury and baptised at the Independent Meeting-House in Friars Street on 14 May 1727, the fifth son and ninth child of John and Mary Gainsborough. In 1958, Gainsborough’s House Society was formed to purchase the house and establish it as a centre for Thomas Gainsborough. The Museum opened to the public in 1961 and has remained open for over 50 years. The beautiful historic garden at the heart of Gainsborough’s House is maintained by a devoted body of volunteers, who garden exclusively with plants that were available in Gainsborough’s lifetime.
Gainsborough’s House Society , Charity No. 1170048 and Company Limited by Guarantee No. 10413978