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Recording Britain - Chris Beetles Gallery

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

AN EXHIBITION entitled Recording Britain: The Twentieth Century Landscape in oils, watercolours, drawings, etchings and photographs, will be on display at Chris Beetles Gallery from February 20 to March 8, 2008.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the influential art historian Sir Kenneth Clark initiated an ambitious extension of the Official War Artist scheme, calling it Recording Britain.

This exhibition is in the spirit of that project. It aims to encapsulate the variety and beauty of Britain as it changed throughout the century, and highlight the renaissance in landscape painting that occurred during the period.

The original scheme commissioned a selection of the very best British artists to produce over 1,500 watercolours and drawings, so creating a unique archive designed to document traditional Britain and celebrate the traditional medium of watercolour. The project had an element of urgency too, as Britain’s landscape faced the double threat of mass development and impending world war.

The exhibition will include over two hundred watercolours, oils, drawings, etchings, and photographs by some of the great artists of the twentieth century, many of whom were involved in Recording Britain.

Of particular note will be a large group of watercolours by the artist Charles Knight. Inspired by the work of John Sell Cotman, Knight became the principal artist of the Recording Britain scheme leading Sir Kenneth Clark to describe him as the ‘jewel in the crown’.

There will also be a group of photographs by Edwin Smith, the greatest twentieth-century photographer of British architecture and landscape.

Other artists include Gerald Ackermann, S R Badmin, Frank Brangwyn, George Clausen, Peter Coker, Phillis Ginger, Thomas Hennell, Rowland Hilder, Cecil Arthur Hunt, Laura Knight, Norman Neasom, Muriel Pemberton, John Piper, Edward Seago, Snowdon, Philip Wilson Steer and Randolph Schwabe.

Times: Monday to Saturday – 10am to 5:30pm.

Chris Beetles Gallery, 8 and 10 Ryder Street, London, SW1Y 6QB.

Telephone: 0207 839 7551.