Friday, 15 June 2018

Boilly at the National Gallery

Boilly: Scenes of Parisian Life
to be held at the National Gallery 
28 February – 19 May 2019

Something to brighten up a gloomy February next year!  The National Gallery has just officially announced an upcoming exhibition of works by Louis-Léopold Boilly (1761-1845).

The exhibition will feature 20 unpublished works from the Ramsbury Manor Foundation which, acccording to the National Gallery press release, "represent the highlights of Boilly's long career in Paris, from 1785 to the 1830s".

Boilly, who was born near Lille, worked in Douai and Arras, before settling in Paris in 1785. With the Revolution he abandoned intimate interior scenes for private patrons and began to produce pictures for public exhibition, including ambitious street scenes.  He exhibited  regularly at the Paris salon between 1791 and 1824. The picture used for the exhibition banner is "A Carnival on the Boulevard du Crime', painted in 1832.

The London exhibition will also include drawn and painted portraits, both of private clients and Boilly's own family; and examples of trompe l'oeil -  a term Boilly himself is said to have coined.
From controversially seductive interior scenes, which saw him get into trouble with the authorities, to ‘first-of-their-kind’ everyday street scenes and clever trompe l’oeils, this exhibition shows Boilly’s daring responses to the changing political environment and art market he encountered, and highlights his sharp powers of observation and wry sense of humour.

The exhibition gives National Gallery a chance to showcase its one solitary Boilly, "A Girl at a window", which is a grisaille based on a painting submitted to the1799 Salon.

The Ramsbury Manor Foundation  is the custodian of the collection of the late property billionaire Harry Hyams, builder of Centre Point,"the Howard Hughes of British Business". During his lifetime Hyams amassed a vast number of  paintings, antiques and vintage vehicles, which he kept at his home in Ramsbury Manor, a secluded 17th-century house near Marlborough.  (In 2006 he had the dubious distinction of falling victim to  "the largest domestic burglary ever perpetrated in Britain" when 300 pieces valued at over £30 m were stolen from Ramsbury Manor by the notorious Johnson Gang.)
On his death in 2015 Hyams left £450m to establish a trust to make Ramsbury Manor and its art treasures accessible to the public.   The first opening is planned to take place in  eighteen months time.

Hyams’s collection includes paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Stubbs and Turner.  Turner’s The Bridgewater Seapiece (1801) is currently on loan to the National Gallery.   Others , such as Burne-Jones's Tristran and Iseult (1872), Millais's Cherry Ripe (1879) are known works.

The Boillys, however,  have not only never been exhibited, most have never been photographed or catalogued.


National Gallery, Exhibitions
Press release

Maev Kennedy,"French artist whose paintings survived raid to get first UK show" The Guardian, article of 31.05.18

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