Marlborough Fine Art was founded in 1946 by Frank Lloyd and Harry Fischer who emigrated to England from Vienna, where Lloyd's family had been antique dealers for three generations and Fischer had dealt in antiquarian books. They first met in 1940, as soldiers in the British army. In 1948 they were joined by a third partner, David Somerset, now the Duke of Beaufort, and chairman of Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd.
After the wartime years of recession, London became the principal market for modern art and Marlborough's role in this changing art world was established. It set standards for exhibitions that were worthy of a modern museum. These were reviewed like museum shows, and the gallery became a focus for collectors, museum directors and connoisseurs as well as history of art students. In 1952 Marlborough was already selling masterpieces of late 19th century including bronzes by Edgar Degas and paintings by Mary Cassatt, Paul Signac, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Auguste Renoir amongst others and drawings by Constantine Guys and Vincent van Gogh.
In the late 1950's and early 1960's Marlborough put on a string of prime exhibitions related to expressionism and the modern German tradition: Art in Revolt, Germany 1905-1925; Kandinsky, the Road to Abstraction and The Painters of the Bauhaus. These were followed by a major Kurt Schwitters show in 1963. In 1960 an exhibition of new paintings by Francis Bacon proved sensational. In 1961 Henry Moore's important exhibition of stone and wood carvings was applauded by clients and the press. The same year saw an exhibition of Jackson Pollock's paintings which included a very rare and early Self Portrait dating from 1933. In 1964 an extraordinary exhibition of paintings, watercolours and drawings by Egon Schiele were shown in London for the first time.
In the 1960's Frank Lloyd moved to New York and in 1972 his son Gilbert Lloyd, who joined the gallery ten years earlier, assumed control of Marlborough Fine Art in London. At the same time Pierre Levai, Frank Lloyd's nephew, took over the running of Marlborough in New York. During the 1970's and 80's, Marlborough staged some of London's most remarkable exhibitions by such artists as: Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, Lynn Chadwick, Lucian Freud, Barbara Hepworth, R.B.Kitaj, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, Victor Pasmore, John Piper and Graham Sutherland. Important exhibitions were held of work by Jacques Lipchitz and René Magritte in 1973; Max Beckmann and Max Bill in 1974; Henri Matisse in 1978 and the innovative Schwitters in Exile show of 1981 which reshaped opinion of the late work of this artist.
During the 1980's and 90's exhibitions of work by Stephen Conroy, John Davies, Bill Jacklin, Ken Kiff, and Paula Rego were held. In 1994-95 R.B. Kitaj had a major Retrospective at the Tate Gallery, London travelling to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum, New York. In 2001 the Royal Academy London showed a Retrospective of Frank Auerbach. The same year Paula Rego showed at Abbot Hall Art Gallery & Museum in Kendal which travelled to the Yale Center for British Art. In 2003 a Stephen Conroy Retrospective was shown at the Schloss Gottorf Museum in Schleswig-Holstein.
John Davies's major Retrospective at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao closed in 2005 and travelled to the Valencia Institute of Modern Art also in 2005. Paula Rego had a major Retrospective at the Serralves Museum, Oporto from 2004-2005. Her work was also shown as part of the 'In Focus' series at Tate Britain from 2004-2005 which included her Triptych The Pillow Man. Another major Retrospective of Paula Rego's work, curated by Marco Livingstone, was shown at the Reina Sofia, Madrid in 2007. The exhibition then travelled to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington in 2008.
The Marlborough stable of international artists continues to exhibit worldwide. In 2005 London held an exhibition of prints by the 90 year old Louise Bourgeois who currently lives and works in New York. This was followed by the British artist Bill Jacklin, who also lives and works in New York, showing his New York Skaters. Lucian Freud's Etchings was followed by the American artist Dale Chihuly's installation of glass flowers and shells, which were subsequently shown at Marlborough Monaco. In 2006 Marlborough London held exhibitions by the abstract painter Therese Oulton, followed by Claudia Bravo's paintings which were also shown in Madrid and Monaco. The Italian artist Daniela Gullotta showed her large paintings of Forgotten Spaces and R. B. Kitaj's exhibition Little Pictures was shown at the end of the year. A Memorial to R. B. Kitaj, who tragically died in October 2007, was shown at the Marlborough Gallery, New York in April 2008.
In 2007 an exhibitions of Masks by Thierry Despont was shown in London and Monaco. Frank Auerbach's Etchings and Drypoints, 1954-2006 were shown in London and an exhibition of Auerbach's work was shown in Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal, in April 2008. A very successful exhibition of paintings and drawings from the Estate of the late Euan Uglow was held in 2007, followed by an exhibition of work by three young German artists: Karin Kneffel, Cornelia Schleime and SEO.
During the 1990's, Marlborough took another new step in becoming one of the first galleries in the Western world to exhibit contemporary art from China. In 1953 Marlborough had already staged a small exhibition of two Chinese painters in London and during the 1960's Marlborough exhibited the abstract paintings of the Chinese artist Lin Sho-Yu (who worked in London under the name of Richard Lin). The gallery's relationship with Chinese art took on a different dimension with the exhibition, New Art from China: Post 1979, which took place at the London gallery, from December 1994 to January 1995.
In 1995 Chen Yifei, the most prominent and respected of Contemporary Chinese artists, signed an exclusive world-wide contract with Marlborough Fine Art. He subsequently had major retrospective exhibitions at the China National Museum of Fine Arts, Beijing, and the new Shanghai Museum as well as a One-Man Show at the Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence, France. In 1997 he represented the People's Republic of China in the first ever, albeit temporary, Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Since then Marlborough has organised Chen Yifei exhibitions in London (1997, 2001), New York (1999/2000), Munich (2001) and Paris (January 2002). A Memorial Exhibition to the artist, who sadly died in 2005, was held at Marlborough Fine Art London in the autumn of 2005. A further Memorial Exhibition took place at Marlborough Gallery New York from January - February 2007
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