The Fine Art Society celebrates 140 years

The Fine Art Society celebrates 140 years of showing avant-garde artists

To celebrate 140 years in its New Bond Street home, The Fine Art Society presents a major exhibition from 6th June to 7th July reflecting the gallery’s influential exhibiting history. Titled ‘The Fine Art Society: A Celebration, the exhibition will take over all five floors of the society’s Bond Street townhouse with a range of work from renowned artists, both past and present.

For decades The Fine Art Society has championed avant-garde art, from work by James McNeill Whistler to the Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones. Founded in 1876 by a group of passionate art collectors and enthusiasts, the society quickly established itself as a frontrunner among modern art galleries – becoming a creative force that was crucial in the promotion of radical artistic movements. In fact, during the height of the society's popularity in the 19th century, shows were often so popular that Bond Street traffic was brought to a standstill. 

Still based in its original location, a five-storey Mayfair townhouse, The Fine Art Society is now the oldest commercial gallery in London. Not only did it bring profound changes to the contemporary art scene, it can also be credited with the invention of modern art exhibitions when James McNeill Whistler, in a bid to remove the forced formality of the Royal Academy, transformed the gallery by hanging works in a continuous line against a white background. A method seen in galleries today on a more than regular basis. 

As testament to the society’s founding vision, ‘The Fine Art Society: A Celebration’ features works by artists that the gallery has promoted and admired. It includes the etchings of Samuel Palmer, Edward Bawden, Gluck, John Singer Sargent, Paul Nash and, of course, James McNeill Whistler. With a history that’s unique in the artistic world, 140 years on, they may still stop traffic.

The Fine Art Society: A Celebration can be viewed from 6th June – 7th July at 148 New Bond Street, London, WIS 2JT; 020 7629 5116;

All images: The Fine Art Society 

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