Prof Ken Howard RA, Light Effect, Campo SS. Giovanni e Paolo. Oil on canvas, 175 × 210 cm Photography: John Bodkin, DawkinsColour
Anthony Green, responsible for this, the last room in the exhibition, says that he was asked to ‘finish the exhibition with brio’. This gallery is a fairly tight display mostly of Academicians’ paintings, with one wall devoted exclusively to pictures by such senior RAs as Olwyn Bowey, whose work ‘has the sureness of touch that all serious art shares’, says Green. ‘I especially like Ben Levene’s large drawing, and Ken Howard, whatever the non-traditionalists say, makes lovely pictures, full of light and atmosphere. And there’s Melissa Scott-Miller, queen of the South London back garden, a favourite of mine.’
A homely atmosphere pervades much in this gallery. Look, for example, at the three embroidered tea towels by Mary Cozens-Walker, all of them technical miracles, and called Utility: To the Dishwasher. But what of Green’s own contribution? It’s a large painting of a North Norfolk house and garden, commissioned by the owner, who appears with his dog in the foreground, seen from a very high viewpoint like the rest of his estate, complete with 69 trees, a croquet lawn, vegetable garden, and adjoining parish church with a glimpse of the open sea in the background.
‘This was a job of the kind the artists of yesteryear regularly secured, and I was bending a knee to the seventeenth-century Dutch throughout. A painting like this is a partnership with the client, whose missus, by the way, is hiding in the runner beans.’ It’s not quite the end of the exhibition – other works hang on the other side of the screen – but Green’s ambitious composition certainly provides a coda con brio.