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a word on art

Vanitas to Nature Morte: Still Life Painting Over 275 Years

From Caravaggio to Van Gogh, still life painting has been at the forefront of artistic movements from the time of ancient Egypt to the present day. Still life painting emerged as a distinct genre with many artists specialising in the subject, with the term “Still Life” coined in the Netherlands in the sixteenth-century, from the Dutch word stilleven. Like many genres of art, still life paintings allow us to read into the context of the period in which they were painted. They allow us the opportunity to explore symbolic references, and to understand how people lived and celebrated their daily lives.

Caravaggio, Canestra di Frutta, c.1599, 46 x 64.5 cms, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan

Vincent Van Gogh, Sunflowers, 1888, 92 x 73 cms, Oil on Canvas, National Gallery, London

Over the course of our art gallery’s 275 years we are proud to have worked with the greatest still life artists of the day, and continue to celebrate the finest contemporary painters of this genre today. This exhibition will explore the gallery’s history with these artists, their relationships with their subjects and will show how still lifes are so much more than “dead nature”.

Twentieth-century French still life painting, or Nature Morte, is celebrated by two of our most loved artists; Charles Perron and Robert Chailloux. Gladwells have been championing Charles Perron’s charming paintings since the early 1930’s when Herbert Fuller first encountered Perron’s paintings on a visit to the Salon des Artistes Français for their Summer Exhibition in Paris. Herbert Fuller was so enchanted with the captivating depictions of rural French life, in the artists’ delicate still lifes, that he travelled to meet Charles at his studio in Nantes. The two gentlemen hit it off and there began a rewarding lifelong friendship which has extended between the families through the generations.

“When the war began, the artist buried all of his paintings in his garden and moved to Brittany, where his subject matter expanded with the change of scenery. On the cessation of war Perron returned to his studio, dug up his pictures and resumed his career. The many accolades awarded him by the Art Institutes of France during his life confirm his status as one of the leading artists of his time.”

“Robert Chailloux was a remarkable artist and a good friend… Chailloux delighted in collecting French provincial pottery and his studio was filled with the finest examples. This provided limitless opportunities for their use in his compositions. He labeled each vase or pot meticulously and stored them all in an extremely large cabinet beside his easel. The charmingly rustic fruits captured within his paintings and his beautiful floral subjects were often taken directly from his gardens or carefully selected from the local market. This fine artist always captured the essence of nature and followed the seasons diligently. The resultant works of art, I personally have enjoyed and shared with many of my clients over the years. One delights in his fresh compositions which display a poetic softness, blending muted colours with bursts of intense pigment. He strived to create truth to nature and artistic perfection on his canvases, leaving a lasting legacy we all continue to enjoy.”

- Anthony Fuller

De Laatste Bourgondier – Willem Dolpyhn

In extending and reviving the Netherlandish tradition through his work, the artist Willem Dolphyn opens a dialogue with his country’s artistic past that few others have managed to create. In his art studio, the rooms were crowded with historic furniture, the shelves were loaded with treasures, fabrics, glassware and ceramics which span the centuries, gleaming and glinting in the Northern light, each piece collected with pride and all contributing to his incredible paintings which we are honoured to have in our art gallery for sale. Willem Dolpyhn’s art studio would almost seem a museum. After years of travelling the world and collecting its most beautiful objects, his house provided a physical manifestation of a lifetime’s work.


“The fine painting of flowers demands considerable discipline, because the passing of time is an important challenge. A flower is always changing.”

Pieter Wagemans specialises in flower paintings, and his work bears reference to his study of artists such as David de Heem Willem Heda and Rachael Ruys. Painting flowers exercises the artist’s discipline and skills of composition, colour harmony and expression. Looking for symbolic value of a composition he builds a moving story. The ‘vanitas’ motif is a major source of inspiration. Reflecting on the transitory nature of life, beauty often is incorporated in the form of a flower.

“Every item has its own characteristics. You can see a thousand details, but you cannot paint everything you see. The art of omitting is very important. A successful painting cannot be approached in a purely photographic way. That is why a painting can go beyond a photograph.” – Pieter Wagemans

Watch the video: Pieter Wagemans

Slow Food

A true Classical Realist, Paul S. Brown upholds rigorous standards and holds firm to principles of artistic integrity, emulating the techniques and materials of the Old Masters in the [paintings now hanging on the walls in our art gallery. In a process he calls ‘Slow Art’ – referencing the Slow Food movement – he works from life in the naturalist tradition.

Paul’s still lifes always provide a visual banquet for the connoisseur of fine food and wine. Much of his work is deeply inspired by the flavours of produce that make their way onto his kitchen table and is often a celebration of the journey of farm and field to larder, cellar and kitchen.

For almost thirty years with the gallery, Paul has revealed his immeasurable talent for finding the beauty in all objects, be that a ball of twine and terracotta pots found in his garden shed or dusty vintage bottles of wine, ready to be poured as a delectable treat for a connoisseur.

Stewart Lees brings to the genre of still life his years of experience as an illustrator and painter of figures, portraits and landscapes. Stewart’s paintings invariably start with one object, be that a weathered and gnarled piece of wood or a ripe and juicy tomato, plucked from the local market stall that morning, and from there tones, textures and flavours will draw a composition into being. Even the smallest still life compositions tell his story.

Seeking to ‘turn the familiar into something extraordinary’, Stewart views the challenges of the genre of still life painting as being akin to those of portrait painting, combining a concern for surface detail with deeper understanding of the subject. ‘…just like the best portrait painters, I’m saying something much deeper about my subject. Far more than the monocular vision of a camera could ever hope to express.’ In every painting, Stewart strives to capture the essence and beauty of his model, be that a humble clove of garlic or a cracked and weathered clay pot.

Trompe d’Oeil

Paul Czainski is the most sought after speciality trompe l’oeil artist, muralist and specialist decorator. He is inspired by pattern, decorative effects, chiaroscuro and the fantastic. In his paintings and drawings he is able to tell a story or bring to our attention the hidden beauty or excitement of the mundane. Czainski works in virtually any medium, from charcoal, etching and drawing through to oils and acrylics. He is equally at home with large scale and miniature works.

Paul is inspired by simple beauty, natural surroundings, sculpture and form. The subject matter in his paintings come from his own garden, which is a masterpiece of creation and an extension of his art. His depictions include both the familiar, the imaginary and out-of-this-world ideas but they strike a cord in the hearts and minds of many, making him highly collectable and wonderfully original.

Born in Antwerp in 1963, Walter Dolphyn grew up in an artistic milieu. His father Willem, grandfather Victor, the esteemed artist and former professor at the Antwerp Royal Academy of Arts, and his great-uncle Denis were all painters, each with their own distinctive styles.

Where Willem would painstakingly depict still lifes of succulent fruit and priceless ceramics that he obsessively collected in his Antwerp studio, Walter’s focus moved to his favoured collectable items: toys, figurines, gadgets and miniatures, all vividly rendered with exquisite painterly precision. Classical technical virtuosity along with a shared aesthetic of luxuriant colour and attention to detail provide a rich link between father and son’s work, and denote the common artistic heritage passed from Willem’s father and Walter’s grandfather, Victor.

The art of narrative is at the heart of Walter’s practice. Jokingly self-styled as the Hieronymous Bosch of his age, above all Walter aims to tell stories. Inspired by the toys or figures themselves or by an everyday observation, he then directs the protagonists, sometimes solitary, sometimes in various surreal combinations, often poised mid-action, or crowded into vitrines and onto shelves. This storytelling impulse again taps into a family legacy, this time from Walter’s great grandfather, a famed writer with texts now translated into fifty-six different languages. Each composition includes something relating to the artists own life and those viewers looking closely will be rewarded with a personal angle to each work.

Visit the exhibition of paintings at Gladwell & Patterson, 5 Beauchamp Place, London, SW3 1NG

Until Tuesday 28th February 2023

For private viewings and general enquiries, please email Emily at or give us a call on 0207 584 5512.


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