Contemporary Art Market: Nudes inspired by past masters: The 19th century aids modern concerns

ONE OF Britain's greatest figure painters, Michael Leonard, is having his first London show for five years at Thomas Gibson Fine Art (44 Old Bond Street, W1). Since about 1980 he has combined portraits of the nobs of the art world - Lord Palumbo, Doris Saatchi, A Alfred Taubman - with exploring the visual possibilities of the nude. This show is mainly nudes.

Leonard has looked to the great draughtsmen of the 19th century for inspiration. His men and women are towelling themselves like Degas bathers; the smooth, high finish of his paint echoes Ingres; his drawings, rubbing soft pencil on paper to make smooth gradations between light and shade, use a technique pioneered by Seurat.

The point of the pictures belongs to the 1990s, however. They are abstract explorations of form and tone within the prescribed framing contour; his edges, and just how they cut across the naked figure, are very important to him.

Leonard used to exhibit at Fischer Fine Art, the very distinguished Mayfair contemporary gallery which closed last year. Always something of an 'outsider' in the contemporary scene, he tried showing with the New York Old Master dealers Rosenberg and Stiebel in 1992, and has now turned to Gibson, primarily a specialist in classic 19th- and 20th-century art.

The gallery, where works are often priced in hundreds of thousands of pounds, makes Leonard look as if he must be very expensive; so far only three paintings and two drawings have sold. In fact, the paintings are priced from pounds 6,000 to pounds 12,000 and the drawings from pounds 2,000 to pounds 2,500. The latter are particularly good value: they are very highly finished and complete, and treat the same subjects as the paintings on a smaller scale.

At the Jill George Gallery (38 Lexington Street) there is another artist who takes his cue from Degas. Crawfurd Adamson, 40 this year, is 20 years younger than Leonard and more farouche. Like Ingres and Delacroix, they represent the battle of line and colour: Leonard, the draughtsman with a magical control of line, Adamson, the colourist who builds his drawing from blazing touches of colour.

Most of Adamson's paintings represent single, naked figures; unlike Leonard, who eschews the narrative, he seeks to convey the sitter's life and anxieties from the positions they adopt. He uses no preparatory drawing but starts to splash paint straight on to the canvas, then teases his images out of the gloom. Of 30 works on show, 21 have sold. The prices for full-scale paintings run from pounds 1,600 to pounds 6,000.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
newsMinistry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links