Pietro Annigoni, the Italian painter who was the most publicised figure in British art circles a decade ago, is back in London.
Pietro Annigoni, the Italian painter who was the most publicised figure in British art circles a decade ago, is back in London. His one-man show opens tomorrow in Mayfair. Here's Michael Blakey.
Annigoni "arrived" on the London scene in 1955 with his portrait of the Queen. It was an immediate popular success. "This is no flattering court portrait", said one mass-circulation newspaper. "This is how the Queen looks". Instant fame brought Annigoni scores of commissions and fees of two thousand guineas a head. But with his next Royal portrait the voice of the critics began to be heard. One called it: "pseudo-Renaissance adulterated with chocolate-box romanticism". Or, from another artist: "bloody awful". Further disenchantment a year later when Princess Margaret's portrait appeared. Osbert Lancaster, for one, said "The young woman looks about as ethereal as a fully qualified masseuse". But then Annigoni's style changed, and in his current exhibition, portraits have been almost totally forsaken for nudes and landscapes. What did visitors at the private view today think about the new Annigoni. I talked to some of them, including actress, Margaret Rawlings.
Great to some. But he's undoubtedly offended many critics. Does this worry him?