Issue Number: 92
As the Royal Academy publishes the first history of the New English Art Club, painter Ken Howard RA – its former president – explains the society’s special place in British art
This book is the first major publication on the New English Art Club since its founding in 1886. This in itself is surprising, as almost every book dealing with the evolution of British Art in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries refers to the importance of the New English.
The New English by Kenneth McConkey RA The New English by Kenneth McConkey RA The New English by Kenneth McConkey RAFounded by a radical group of artists who were profoundly affected by French Impressionism, they set up in open opposition to the Royal Academy and its Pre-Raphaelite tradition. Early exhibitors included Claude Monet and Edgar Degas, as well as Whistler, Sickert and Philip Wilson Steer.
Being revolutionary, as well as revelationary, and not wishing to be Royal, a Society or an Academy, they called themselves the New English Art Club.
In time, the Academy embraced French Impressionist painting and absorbed many of the early members, and for many years the two groups expressed the same values. Now it seems the wheel has gone full circle and as the Academy has started to move away from figurative painting, the New English has continued the tradition of work based on observation of the natural world.
For any lover of English figurative painting, this book is a must for your shelf.
The New English by Kenneth McConkey (RA Publications, £40)
Ken Howard RA