The New English Art Club: An Exhibition of Selected Members

30 March - 14 April 2022

Towards the end of the 19th century the brightest young hopes of the British art world looked to Paris for an education in cutting edge painting. Although the initial tumult of Impressionism had subsided, the excitement that those artists’ ideas engendered still permeated the ateliers and salons of the French capital. On their return to London, young British painters were struck by the disparity between the two capitals’ approach to art. By the mid 1880s Monet was finding financial security and public approbation, by contrast in London the artistic establishment was dominated by the technically brilliant but artistically turgid Academic style. That Academic approach that had been success fully eroded in Paris by Impressionism and its antecedents was as robust and institutionalized as it had been for a century.

The Royal Academy was the chief exhibition venue for every aspiring artist of the day and governed by a reactionary cabal of aging Academicians. In this stifling environment a group of young painters, seeing no alternative and inspired by the Salon de Refusés of 1863, decided to mount a rival exhibition. So, in April 1886 the first exhibition of the New English Art Club was held in London to promote the principles of Impressionism and combat the conservatism of the Royal Academy. Its first exhibitors included Whistler, Singer Sargent, Wilson Steer, Clausen, and Sickert, confirming the club’s status as the new spiritual home of British avant-garde painting.

As with all such groups forged in the white heat of youthful idealism, the various members grew successful and their previously radical beliefs became those of the art establishment they had contested. By the early decades of the 20th century the club was a power to be reckoned with, both as a forcing ground for new talent and as a serious showcase for new work by the celebrity artists of the period, Augustus John among them. Although truly progressive painters still formed new factions and associations to promote their ideals, the ranks of the most prominent of these, the Camden Town Group and the London Group, were largely filled by the New English Art Club members.

After the Great War, the club remained centre stage, attracting members of the stature of Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash, Duncan Grant, and Mark Gertler. As these young painters progressed and many were elected Royal Academicians, they continued to exhibit with the NEAC. Through the shared membership of many of their finest talents the two institutions grew ideologically together, so that by the 1940s and 50s election to the club was seen as a logical stepping stone to election to the Royal Academy.

With the earth-shattering changes in Western art of the post-war years the ideals of the two societies began to diverge dramatically. By the 1960s and 70s the Academy had embraced abstraction whole heartedly. In contrast, the New English Art Club continued to preserve their founders’ ideals of Impressionism and bolster the principle of figurative art that was then, as now, so battered by prevailing critical opinion.
Today the Academy moves increasingly towards the conceptual with the exception of a handful of figurative painters, Diana Armfield, Fred Cuming, Anthony Green, and Ken Howard, all of whom are also members of the New English Art Club.

The club itself has become more self-aware, mindful of its position as the last public exhibition forum for representational painting of a certain quality and aesthetic. Its role is undoubtedly important, as decades of conceptual supremacy in art schools have steadily eroded the importance of drawing as a necessary skill for the basis of good painting.

A tenet of the New English Art Club is the promotion of painting in a visual language in which pictorial statements are slowly and intricately constructed, but when they are completed, they can be under stood quickly and easily by everyone. The club, under current president Peter Brown, actively encourages young artists who employ this language, both through educational programmes and their annual open exhibition.

Panter & Hall has a long association with the New English Art Club having held members’ shows in the past and awarding a prize at some of the annual open exhibitions. In an art market dominated by conceptual, installation-based work, figurative painting offers a refreshing and affordable alternative for today’s collectors. The letters NEAC after an artist’s name offer a reassuring brand or kite mark to collectors, declaring that artist to have reached the high standards that the club maintains.

- Matthew Hall


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Sold
Louise Balaam

High White Day, Sennen Cove

£1,250

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Louise Balaam

Cloud Shadow, The Downs

£5,500

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Tom Benjamin

Rockpools I

£3,000

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Tom Benjamin

Rock in Spring Sunshine

£600

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Peter Brown

Piccadilly and the top of St James's December

£4,250

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Peter Brown

Air Street, Late Afternoon Sun, February

£4,250

Tom Coates

The Beach at Port de Sóller, Majorca

£8,000

Tom Coates

Resting in the Studio

£3,000

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Paul Curtis

Balcony, Porthmeor Beach, St Ives

£1,800

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Paul Curtis

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£850

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John Dobbs

Pansies

£500

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John Dobbs

Sheep in the Chess Valley

£1,650

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Still Life with Italian Vase

£1,800

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£2,200

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Benjamin Hope

Brolly and the Chocolate Factory

£8,000

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Early Poultry

£1,600

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Benjamin Hope

Southwark Bridge Road

£1,600

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Tinder Box Point, Tasmania

£3,000

Mary Jackson

Going Fishing, Randall's Bay, Tasmania

£2,500

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Michael Kirkbride

Skater London

£950

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Michael Kirkbride

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Mid-Century Shoppers

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Jason Line

Studio Window at Night

£1,400

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Studio at Night with Chair

£2,700

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Ticket

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Idling

£740

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£760

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Paul Newland

Deanery by the River

£2,700

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Fisherman and Shadow

£4,000

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£4,400

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Between Two Storms, Gower Coast

£1,200

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Worm's Head, Rhossili, After the Storm

£1,200

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Black Table

£7,600

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Night Drive

£2,600

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Road to Carsaig

£1,500

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James Rushton

Hanchurch Woods

£2,000

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Winter Blossom

£5,800

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Bluebells and May

£2,400

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Richard Sorrell

Carrying a Ladder out of a Wood

£1,950

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The South of France

£2,100

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Teacup

£975

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Low Tide

£975

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Nagden Marsh

£1,700

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Dungeness

£2,200

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Westminster

£4,995

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Neale Worley

Resting

£4,000

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Red Dress

£3,850

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Costume Drawing

£7,000

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Mirror Mirror

£795

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John Dobbs

The River Chess in Winter

£850

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Rivers Run, Ceredigion

£1,500

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Susan Ryder

Piano Notes

£5,800

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Richard Sorrell

Round Chair

£900

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Vapour Trails

£850

Clare Haward

Still Life, Winter Light

£1,800

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Jason Line

Studio Window

£2,600

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Cley Sketch

£975

Richard Pikesley

Bathers and Fossil Hunters, Jurassic Coast

£1,850

Reserved
Robert Wells

Cromer Sunset

£1,100

Richard Sorrell

Bringing a Boat Ashore

£1,600

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Fires

£1,850

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Bridget Moore

Little Tent

£725

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Michael Kirkbride

Tie me up

£1,200

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Paul Curtis

Summer Flowers, Studio, Porthmeor Beach, St Ives

£750

Reserved
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Alone

£1,950

Clare Haward

Arrangement II

£1,100

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John Dobbs

The Windmill at Turville

£850

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Tom Benjamin

Under the Cliffs, Last of the Sun

£3,000

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Dark Cornish Coast, Turquoise Sky

£795

Richard Pikesley

Back from Sea, West Bay Evening

£4,900

Robert Wells

Swing, Situation Vacant

£900

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Paul Curtis

Late Evening, Studio, St Ives

£575

Neale Worley

Marianna

£5,250

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Simon Quadrat

Still Life with Oil Lamp

£3,800