From Sickert to Gertler – Modern British Art from Boxted House at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

From Sickert to Gertler celebrates the lives of Bobby and Natalie Bevan and the works that hung on the walls of their home, Boxted House in Essex, which became a gathering place for artists after the Second World War. Open through 12 September 2010.

Bobby was the son of artists Stanislawa de Karlowska and Robert Bevan (who was born in Hove and grew up near Cuckfield, West Sussex). Brighton Public Art Gallery was the only public gallery to purchase a painting by Robert Bevan during his lifetime – The Cab Yard, Night 1909–10 (on display in this exhibition).

Natalie, a renowned beauty and hostess, modelled for many artists (most famously Mark Gertler). She was a distinguished painter and ceramicist in her own right, and one of her joyful ceramic circus animals is in the exhibition.

Between 1946 and 1974, Bobby and Natalie created an exceptional home at Boxted House. Paintings by Bobby’s parents and their friends, including Walter Sickert, Harold Gilman and Charles Ginner, hung beside works by Bobby and Natalie’s own friends, such as Christopher Nevinson, John Armstrong and Frederick Gore.

The house became a social centre for artists like John Nash, Cedric Morris and Lett Haines. All of these artists are represented in the exhibition.

As generous patrons of the visual arts, Bobby, Natalie and their house played an important role in the post-war cultural renaissance. During the 1950s and 1960s, Boxted House became the heart of a social milieu not just of artists, but also of writers, politicians, gardeners and other creative individuals. Fine art was just one aspect of the unique environment in which the hospitable Bobby and Natalie lived. Friends recall Bobby’s collection of 18th century furniture and Natalie’s collections of Staffordshire and Chelsea ceramics, amongst other features, which – when combined with his wine cellar and her kitchen – made each visit an unforgettable experience.

Virtually every work in the exhibition has a personal link to Bobby and Natalie.

Highlights include
Robert Bevan’s Showing at Tattersall’s of 1919, which Bobby presented to The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford in memory of his father

Charles Ginner’s La Vieille Balayeuse, Dieppe of 1913, which the artist exchanged for a work by Robert Bevan and Harold Gilman’s portrait of Bobby’s mother of 1913

Mark Gertler’s sumptuous 1928 portrait of Natalie aged 19, Supper, now titled Natalie Bevan (née Ackenhausen, later Denny). The painting reveals their intense friendship of the late 1920s

John Armstrong’s Still Life with Leeks, painted while staying at Boxted House over the winter of 1955

John Nash’s snowscape of his garden not far from Boxted House, Ice and Snow (1959), representing the artist’s friendship of many decades with the Bevans

Cedric Morris’s bold Paysage du Jardin No 2 reflects his closeness to the family

Bobby’s passion for a catholic range of exceptional works on paper is revealed in works by artists including Francisco de Goya, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Cézanne.

This exhibition celebrates the colourful character of Boxted House, its hosts, its guests and the works of art which filled its walls.