Glamour and Espionage: the story of Brian Stonehouse

Brian Stonehouse

From flyer for the upcoming Brian Stonehouse exhibition at Abbott and Holder

On a visit to London last week I called in to the picture dealer Abbott and Holder in Museum Street. This is a long-standing haunt, celebrated for its stock of excellent British drawings, watercolours and paintings from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Conversations with the gallery’s director Philip Athill are always enlightening and on this visit he drew my attention to a forthcoming exhibition of the fashion illustrator Brian Stonehouse (1918-1998). Stonehouse’s elegant work for Vogue through the 1960s compares well with that of many of his better-known peers, but it is the backstory to his life that is truly fascinating. Continue reading

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Scottish Colourists and Miss Jean Brodie

People and Sails by JD Fergusson. Artwork in the public domain.

“People and Sails” by JD Fergusson. Artwork in the public domain.

I read two interesting articles in this weekend’s newspapers: in the Financial Times there was a review of the exhibition of JD Fergusson’s paintings at Chichester’s fantastic Pallant House Gallery, and in the Guardian there was a recollection by Penelope Jardine of her life in Italy with novelist Muriel Spark, written to coincide with a new collection of essays by Spark (The Golden Fleece), edited by Jardine. Reading these in tandem, in an Edinburgh made even more beautiful than usual by uncharacteristic unbroken sunshine, brought home to me the very particular character of a city that I have only called home for three years, but which is increasingly opening up its reticent personality to me in the manner of a slowly developing friendship. Continue reading

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