Lab 5 Bertram

02 Mar

I do not know if it is because I find myself becoming disconnected with aspects of contemporary art but I have started to rekindle my appreciation and excitement about Old Master paintings. The start of this new journey is the research I am undertaking on seventeenth century printmaking and the consequent investigation of the landscape backgrounds of the Old Masters. That being another story for another time I confess I have not looked at Renaissance and post Renaissance paintings for many years. Having spent my entire university courses studying Baroque to Neo Classicism I rather turned my back on all things historical when dedicating myself to my career in modern and contemporary art.


Now that I am returning to the past I discover that I am looking at these works in completely different light, being rather older and wiser. Recent experiences at the National Gallery of Scotland and at Tate Britain have been instructive in ways I consider that I would have been unable to appreciate thirty years ago. I am not for a moment propounding anything earthshattering in anyone’s understanding or appreciation of, say, eighteenth and early nineteenth century British painting. This is a very personal apotheosis. I have never realised quite how modern Constable is, for example, in his use of flashes of white to scintillate even the darkest areas of foliage or shade, or how abstractly depicted (in almost modernist ways) are areas of Titian’s backgrounds.


I first experienced a view of interpreting Old Master paintings in a contemporary light when seeing Andrea Mantegna’s glorious series Triumphs of Caesar in an exhibition at the Royal Academy (they are usually housed the orangery at Hampton Court) in 1992. At a time when British Art was defined by the popularity, both critical and public, of strong and distinctive figurative art, and definitely pre pickled sharks, I remember asking a question in my mind about quite how far contemporary figurative art had come in five hundred years.

28 Jan

After nearly ten years of business as Bertram Enterprises and then Bertram Arts, this is my first formal sale. For a limited time I am offering this special collection of twenty small pictures at a very special rate of 25% discount, and including packaging and posting. This collection can be seen in a fully illustrated catalogue. The sale runs until Sunday 23rd February.

Cabinet pictures tend to be small as historically they were designed and destined for small private cabinet rooms for the exclusive appreciation of the house owner. The paintings were not studies for larger works but small scale fully developed images, complete in their own right. This collection of twenty pictures amply illustrates this concept. Each artist has taken great care in creating a properly considered, fully executed work.

Do you have a small bit of wall for a small picture?


28 Jan

Welcome to 2014. Other than the widespread flooding I can see on the Somerset Levels from my office window (the landscape has become an inland archipelago!) the year has started off well. The London Art Fair mid-month shone a positive light on the Modern British art and Contemporary art scene with well-presented collections. Modern British was well represented with a special invited display from The Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery, supported with fine works on the stands of Austin Desmond, Jonathan Clark and Rowntree Clark. Personally I was delighted with the display of paintings from 1945 to 1995 by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham at Art First. I have to admit to some bias here as I assisted in the selection and wrote the catalogue but the gallery made the paintings look wonderful, in a spacious, well laid out display, as a solo presentation.

The catalogue, which combines this event with an exhibition of the artist’s late paintings to come in March, can be seen here.

12 Dec

12 December 2013 -

I was delighted recently to receive a positive review of my book on the etchings of John Clerk of Eldin in the current edition of the Print Quarterly. Writing and publishing this book was a very personal project and it is nice to see that the efforts have been recognised, particularly in such an august publication .Information about Clerk of Eldin and my book can be found here.

12 Dec

I have just received an e-catalogue of Bridget Macdonald’s exhibition The Poetry of Earth seen this summer at Quay Arts, Isle of Wight. I used to work with Bridget many years ago and it was good to be reminded of quite how good an artist she is. She is a superb draughtsman and painter and this exhibition represented an overview of twenty years of work. I am sorry to have missed it but look forward to the next opportunity. She was lined up to have a show next year at Worcester City Art Gallery but this has been cancelled due to the withdrawal of public funds from the gallery. Indeed, the gallery is under threat of closure. That should not be allowed to happen! The catalogue is an attachment on this page.

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  • Geoffrey Bertram
  • 1 Knuscroft Lane, Thurloxton, Somerset TA2 8RL
  • 01823 413388
  • 0771 257 7934