The Alan M. Fortunoff Collection ➤
Christopher Nevinson, RA (1889-1946), Third Avenue, Elevated Railway, 1920
Liss Llewellyn Fine Art in association with Peyton Skipwith are delighted to present the collection of the late Alan M. Fortunoff (1933-2000), a retail visionary, who transformed the Fortunoff Department Store, and aided the appreciation of Modern British Art in North America.
By the time of Mr. Fortunoff’s death, Fortunoff Fine Jewelry and Silverware was ranked as one of the largest privately owned companies in the New York Metropolitan area, and is estimated to have achieved revenues of $455 million. Such wealth allowed him to invest in art for both private and commercial use, and during frequent visits to London for trade fairs, he set about building a collection of unique strength and character.
The pictures that Mr. Fortunoff assembled reveal the quality of his eye, as well as the judiciousness on his part to collect and deal in Modern British Art at a period when the market for American Realist Painting was proving increasingly immoderate. Many of these paintings have not been exhibited for several decades, including early works by figures such as Maxwell Armfield (1881-1972) and Christopher Nevinson (1889-1946) who would later rise to prominence in America. The collection thus provides a snapshot of the tastes and spirit of a business pioneer, whilst bearing a curious, transatlantic relevance.
Maxwell Ashby Armfield
Edwin John Alexander
BRITISH REALISM BETWEEN THE WARS
By Peyton Skipwith
“Realism” is a virtually meaningless term as far as art criticism goes. Primitive man in the caves at Lascaux was striving for realism, as were Holbein and Dürer in the 16th century, and Ingres and the Pre-Raphaelites in the 19th. Each period has its own nuanced approach as to what constitutes reality and how to interpret it.
This year British museum visitors have enjoyed extraordinary encounters with 1920s and 1930s realism. First came America After the Fall, with great works by Edward Hopper, Charles Sheeler, and others, including Grant Wood’s masterpiece, American Gothic. It was presented at London’s Royal Academy of Art, as was Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932, while Portraying a Nation: Germany 1919-1933, which included a major showing of works by Otto Dix, appeared at Tate Liverpool. These three exhibitions provided an international context in which to view, and assess, True to Life: British Realist Painting in the 1920s & 1930s, the exhibition mounted by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art for this summer’s Edinburgh Festival. This ambitious show included nearly 100 works by 58 artists, many of whom have largely been ignored by scholars and critics, and whose names are virtually unknown.
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William Strang (1859 – 1921), The Opera Cloak, 1913 (FORTUNOFF COLLECTION)