Fine Art Society

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The Fine Art Society are art dealers with two premises, one in New Bond Street, London occupied since February 1876, and given a new entrance facade in 1881 by Edward William Godwin (1833–1886), and most recently fully refurbished in 2004-05, with a new gallery created for contemporary work. The other gallery is in Dundas Street in Edinburgh's New Town (Bourne Fine Art, established 1978). Founded in 1876 by a group of like-minded men led by William Longman of the publishing family, Marcus Bourne Huish (1843–1904), lawyer, editor, writer and collector, who became the first Managing Director while at the same time editing The Art Journal; and Archibald Stuart-Wortley MP. The gallery, first managed by Ernest Brown (later founder of Leicester Galleries) has for many years largely concentrated on British art and design from 1600 to the present day; with the Edinburgh premises specialising in Scottish art of the same period. The current Managing Director is Patrick Bourne, only the sixth man to hold the position in the 136 year history of the firm, the Edinburgh branch of the company is directed by Emily Walsh. The Chairmen were all drawn from the Longman family until the death of Mark Longman in 1972, since then only Lord Macfarlane of Bearsden KT and now Sir Angus Grossart have held the position.

The gallery is also known as the pioneer of the one-man exhibition, most famously that of James McNeill Whistler's First Venice Set of etchings in December 1880; the gallery having sent Whistler to Venice in 1879 in part to enable him to escape from the issues following his libel action against John Ruskin. The commission was for Whistler to travel to Venice for three months to create a series of twelve etchings. Beguiled by the city, he stayed for fourteen months and completed approximately fifty etchings. Venice also inspired Whistler to make some hundred works in pastel, of which 53 were shown in the Venice Pastels exhibition in 1881. During Whistler's absence in Venice, the gallery showed his antagonist John Ruskin's private Collection of Watercolours by J. M. W. Turner, and ran a subscription to pay for Ruskin's legal costs: a supreme exhibition of political sleight of hand. Other living exhibitors at the London premises included Sir John Everett Millais, John Singer Sargent, Burne-Jones, Frank Brangwyn, Walter Richard Sickert, Walter Crane, George Washington Lambert and Joseph Southall, and more recently Leonard Rosoman, Emma Sargent, Emily Young and Geoffrey Clarke. Of many memorial exhibitions held, one was for Lady Alma Tadema in 1910.

The Fine Art Society also holds exhibitions overseas, and participates in fairs in New York, Dubai, Maastricht, Hong Kong, Paris and London.

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Coordinates: 51°30′41″N 0°08′38″W / 51.511269°N 0.143822°W / 51.511269; -0.143822