Founded in London in 1876, The Fine Art Society (FAS) gallery was operating when James McNeill Whistler was a contemporary artist. In fact, in 1879, the society sent Whistler to Venice to create a series of etchings of the Italian city, and its current stock includes some of his pastels, drawings, and other works that it purchased much later. The society’s association with the American-born Whistler is an anomaly, however, because throughout its history, FAS has championed British artists. The society will continue that tradition in June, when its New Bond Street gallery will display works by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in a show surveying five centuries of Scottish painting. Managing director Patrick Bourne says that 90 percent of the FAS inventory consists of paintings, prints, etchings, drawings, and watercolors from the 17th through 21st centuries—primarily the 19th—by Walter Sickert, Sir William Nicholson, Samuel Palmer, and other British artists. The FAS inventory is not limited to works on paper; since the 1960s, the society has dealt in decorative arts that have included teapots designed by Christopher Dresser and furniture by Mackintosh. Following a revamp of the FAS building that was completed last year, the gallery dedicated a second-floor space to contemporary British artworks. Now creations by Tracey Emin, Keith Coventry, and Emily Young share a gallery with images by Gilded Age artists.
The Fine Art Society