Sunday, 17 March 2019


Chris Beetles Gallery, my favourite selling art gallery, has just had a website face-lift making its extraordinarily diverse stock of artworks more tantalizingly accessible to the the online gallery-goer.

Former doctor, watercolour expert, past and present collector, Chris Beetles is an idiosyncratic dealer in English watercolours, illustrations, cartoons, photography and oils. In a profile, a few years ago, Renaissance: The Fine Art Collector, wrote: "If you want to buy a beautiful 19th century Edward Lear watercolour, an original Quentin Blake from a classic Roald Dahl book, an up-to-date Matt cartoon from the Daily Telegraph or a stunning Norman Parkinson photograph from the pages of Vogue, then this is the place to visit with everything just 'waiting in the wings'. It is virtually impossible to enter this venerable, approachable and reassuringly British gallery without adding to your collection. This also makes it the perfect place to start one…"

As a regular visitor (in real and virtual time) to Chris' gallery – and as a sometime (very modest) collector – I have, for many years, enjoyed the opportunity to discover more about the joys of many aspects of art and, in particular, those that are almost universally ignored by our great art institutions and, indeed, most commercial galleries too: illustration art, cartoons and caricatures. 

At Beetles' London gallery – 10 Ryder Street in the heart of  St James’s – I have met the aforementioned Quentin Blake, fellow illustrators Michael Foreman, Helen Oxenbury, John Burningham and others and enjoyed brilliant exhibitions either devoted to the work of specific artists or, in his legendary annual Illustrators blockbuster where an astonishing variety of graphic artists are hung shoulder to shoulder among them Mervyn Peake, Ronald Searle, Rowland Emett, Mabel Lucy Atwell, Arthur Rackham, Charles and William Heath Robinson, Eric Fraser, Al Hirschfeld, Lawson Wood, George and Eileen Soper, Edward Ardizzone, Norman Thelwell and Louis Wain.

The rejuvenated gallery website allows the visitor to browse its extensive collection by artist A to Z or by area of interest from 'Victorian' to 'American', from 'Cartoons' to 'Decorative Arts', 'Prints and Etchings' to 'Literary Manuscripts' or, in these days of Brexit uncertainty, 'Early English' to 'European'!

You can explore the current exhibitions featuring the vibrant paintings of Geraldine Girvan and a bicentennial celebration of the work of John Ruskin, reflecting on the work of artists who either helped him hone his aesthetic and skills or who received his praise and support.

Enthusiasts can also create a 'My Beetles Wall', a personal exhibition space on which to display your favourite exhibits.

I won't keep you further from your exploration of the delights in store, but I will just encourage you further to visit with a handful of fantastic images currently available to pursue or maybe, depending on your bank balance, take home to hang on your wall!

 Arthur Rackham

 Al Hirschfeld

 William Heath Robinson

Lesley Anne Ivory

 Edward Ardizzone

 Kathleen Hale

Eric Fraser

 Lawson Wood

 Michael Foreman

George Soper

 Mervyn Peake

 Paul Cox

Ronald Searle

E. H. Shepard

You can also visit Chris Beetles Gallery in person (Monday - Saturday, 10am - 5.30pm) at: 

8 & 10 Ryder Street, 
St James’s, 

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