Anthony Christian (b. 1945) was already making a name for himself by the tender age of ten as the only child in history to be granted permission to study by copying masterpieces in London’s National Gallery. Such was his natural talent that all that beheld his first major oil painting (a full-size, 6 by 4.5 feet, copy of Dutch master Philips Wouwermann’s Cavalry Battle) were left speechless. The work, which at the time provoked media frenzy and the art world to pronounce him a child prodigy – did far more, marking the start of a remarkable life.
The artist, today 72 years of age, has enjoyed an illustrious and unprecedented career as an artist. His art has taken him to America, France, Tibet and India, as well as many other countries where he associated with artists such as Dali, Picasso and Warhol, and where he painted (often portraits) for the rich and famous: from the late Lord Mountbatten and Peter Cazelet (in the Queen’s Royal Collection) to actors Terence Stamp and Donald Sutherland.
Faced with the choice of further fame as a society portraitist or searching out a greater, more profound artistic truth, Christian left England to live in Bali and South India where he set up a museum to display his life’s work. Based in Asia, he was able to quickly gain a wider clientele of collectors and a worldwide reputation for his Old Master technique.
This exhibition marks an important return for Christian to the city that developed his distinct ‘inner voice’, artistic conscience and critical eye that would judge everything he ever created as an artist. Vogue’s affirmation several decades ago: “Anthony Christian is a new world’s child who makes old world portraits,” remains equally true almost half a century on.