Philip Naviasky (1894-1983)

A remarkable painter who came from Polish-Jewish immigrant stock, at thirteen he won a scholarship to Leeds School of Art then at eighteen won a place at the Royal Academy Schools. He was granted a Royal Exhibition award for three years at the Royal College of Art. He was widely travelled, exhibited extensively at the principal societies and had a reputation as a portrait painter that won him many high-profile commissions. His humble roots appealed to the nascent Labour Party and both Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald and his Chancellor, Philip Snowden, sat for him. He remained based in Leeds all his life, marrying Millie Astrinsky, the tailoress daughter of Lithuanian immigrants at the city’s New Central Synagogue in 1933. 

Naviasky’s art market story is a familiar one. His early works are vital, confident paintings in which we recognise an artist who’s talent won him so many plaudits before he was twenty. An artist who painted the first labour Prime Minister and has more than thirty works in public collections. Then in the late 1960s his sight began to fail and he gave up exhibiting publicly. Sadly, for his reputational legacy he clearly daubed away happily for the next twenty years and after his death the shallows of the art world are awash with frankly terrible but absolutely genuine Philip Naviasky paintings.

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