The slight snag – the majority of Birley’s magnificent portraits hang in the palaces, country houses, institutions and private homes they were painted to adorn. This autumn, however, Philip Mould & Company Gallery – specialists in British portraiture – present an exhibition of more than 50 of Birley’s most famous portraits. This one-off exhibition, initiated by Sir Oswald’s grandson Robin Birley, offers a rare opportunity to glimpse works never seen before in public.
Penelope Pike, Later Countess of Ronaldshay and Marchioness of Zetland
Birley studied art in Paris and worked as a cartographer during the First World War. In the aftermath, he established himself as a society portrait painter. Following a successful solo exhibition in 1919, Birley's reputation and fame skyrocketed, and he became the default choice for illustrious society commissions between 1919-1950.
Birley's style is instantly recognisable. Painting quickly – he required as few as four one-hour sittings per portrait – but with a technically flawless style, Birley was able to capture a remarkably good likeness. Within the frame, his cool, rich palette sings out. His oils are weighty, stiff even. We find erect upper-class sitters in shadowy drawing rooms, surrounded by heavy fabrics. They bestow a formality that is at once imposing and constraining. The commissions came rolling in. Portraits of Winston Churchill, The Marchioness of Zetland, his high-spirited young and beautiful wife Rhoda, are amongst the highlights on display.
Birley 'was a master of his craft and of a legacy of society portraiture that traces its origins to Holbein, Van Dyck and Velazquez. Here is a chance to re-meet some of the faces who so imprinted Britain's inter-war years,’ says Philip Mould & Company director, Philip Mould.
Seize the chance to soak in Birley's portraits at Philip Mould's glorious Pall Mall gallery this autumn.
Birley, 'Portrait of a young girl seated in a pink dress'
Culture Whisper Premium members will have the opportunity to attend the private exhibition viewing on 26 September. So, much like Churchill, you can enjoy a glass of champagne while you view. Redeem your free ticket now.
|What||Sir Oswald Birley exhibition, Power and Beauty, Philip Mould & Company Gallery|
|Where||Philip Mould Gallery, 18-19 Pall Mall, St James', SW1Y 5LU | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Green Park (underground)|
26 Sep 17 – 10 Oct 17, Monday - Friday: 9.30am - 5.30pm, Saturday - Sunday: 12pm - 4pm
|Website||Click here for more information|