your portrait painted by one of our five major artists-in-residence
Our chosen portraitists
have been selected by Sara Stewart, Britain’s
leading patron in the genre, whose grandmother was agent
for Augustus John.We are delighted to introduce their
work to members, starting here with Nicky Philipps.
SARA STEWART, founder of Fine Art Commissions,
is Britain’s leading patron of portrait artists.
She started the company in 1997, having perceived a
welcome revival in portraiture. But her role might equally
have been genetically imprinted. Her grandmother, Lady
Cochrane, was one of the first agents for commissioned
portrait artists, including Augustus John and Sir James
Today, she has 40 of the country’s
most talented portrait painters under her wing, including
many she has nurtured from young unknowns into National
Portrait Gallery material. With the same flair as the
great theatrical agents of old, she has organised commissions
for several members of the Royal Family and many leading
cultural, social and business figures. Too discreet
to reveal the names of her prestigious clients, she
is distinctly pragmatic.
When she was director of the Malcolm Innes
Gallery in London, in her early art world years, she
says, ‘People would come in and look at a picture
of, say, a dead stag, and then ask if I knew where they
could get the-their wife painted.’ At the time,
Sara was sharing a flat with an artist who was the first
student to emerge from the Cecil school in Florence
(now a well-known breeding ground for portraitists),
and who did not know how to get commissions. ‘I
realised then that there was a gap,’ she says.
Walk into her Bury Street gallery today
and you will see a series of neatly arranged black books.
These are portfolios of the artists’ work, arranged
by subject: children, adults, house murals, pets and
animals. These books make easy-to-use, simple references
for clients to peruse, before deciding which artist’s
style and medium suits them.
Sara’s selection procedure for artists
on her books is rigorous. ‘I do not care whether
artists have had commissions or not,’ she says.
‘I want to see someone who has a good body of
work behind them— who has at least practised drawing
for two years. I turn down about 30 artists a week,
which is very frustrating. ’ She chooses only
those who are ‘consistently good’—those
who can paint a genuine heirloom. This unerring eye
for quality will ensure that she remains a talented
scion of the art world for years to come.
Artist One - Nicky Philipps
Nicky Philipps has portrait painting
in her blood. Two of her grandparents were artists.
Her parents and her sister have also followed the same
path. She grew up in London, where she trained at the
City and Guilds School of Fine Art, followed by an apprenticeship
at the Studio Cecil Graves in Florence. Philipps is
now one of the most popular and fashionable portraitists
of today. She has held several successful major exhibitions,
her show in Cork Street, London, in 2001 selling 30
paintings in the first hour. Her high profile commissions
include author Ken Follett, the Marquis and Marchioness
of Zetland, Countess Peel, Viscount Long, Lord Ancram
and the Lord Mayor of London, Sir David Howard. Fees:
portraits upwards of £10,000; still lifes from
Artisit Two - Nick Bashall
Introducing Nick Bashall, our second artist-in-residence
at CountryClubuk and one of Britain’s
top portrait painters. Nick Bashall was born in England and raised in Zimbabwe. He studied law
at Cambridge University where he was also a Boxing Blue.
After several years as a lawyer in London and abroad,
he changed career and spent five years at art school
in Majorca, studying under Joaquim Torrens Llado. In
July 1999, under armed protection, he painted the landing
of The First Parachute Battalion in Pristina. He stayed
on in Kosovo at General Jackson’s request to paint
a group portrait of the NATO, UN and Kosovan Liberation
Army command. Together the pictures required a total
of 75 individual portraits, some full length and all
painted from life. In February 2002, flown by the RAF
into Kabul, he was the first and only foreign artist
then allowed into Afghanistan. Over two months he painted
several canvases on the crowded streets of Kabul, under
the armed protection of the Parachute and Gurkha Regiments.
The paintings were the subject of an article in the
Daily Telegraph and an exhibition at the Arndean Gallery,
Cork Street. In early 2004 he spent a month in Basra,
where he worked on two military commissions. Bashall’s
popularity continues to grow. His work forms part of
private and corporate collections nationwide, and commissions
include HRH The Princess Royal for The Household Cavalry,
the children of the Duke of Westminster, General Sir
Michael Jackson for The Parachute Regiment, and Sir
Hew Hamilton Dalrymple for the Royal Company of Archers.
Sittings normally take one to two days, lasting two
to three hours each (with breaks) for charcoal drawings,
and from two to eight days at two to three hours each
(with breaks) for oils. Sittings for children are best
held in the mornings. He prefers to paint in his studio,
but he will travel. His charges vary from £3,400
for a charcoal head and shoulders to over £17,000
for a full-length portrait in oils on canvas. We offer
them at an exclusive 5% discount to members.
and Fine Art Commissions have chosen the five most impressive
and appropriate artists to paint portrait commissions
for members. They are Nicky Philipps (featured this
month), Mikael Melbye, Valery Gridnev, Marcus Hodge and
Nicholas Bashell, who will be featured in future months.
To see their work now, visit the internet gallery www.fineartcommissions.com.To
arrange a viewing with Sara Stewart, please call us
on 020 7935 0888. The minimum fee for a work is £950,
the maximum about £50,000. Prices depend on the
scale of the work and the artist’s renown. CountryClubuk
has secured a special and exclusive relationship with
Fine Art Commissions. Our members receive a 5% discount
on these five artists’ fees.