‘Eclectic’ and ‘prolific’ are epithets that can be ascribed to many painters, but none is more worthy of them than Anthony Christian, who at the age of ten was the youngest artist ever to have studied at London’s National Gallery, and is still producing original and thought-provoking canvases in his late seventies.
Christian studied anatomy at The Victoria and Albert Museum under the auspices of Charles Harvard Gibbs-Smith, and was hailed as a prodigy during his time at the National Gallery, where he skilfully reproduced Philip Wouwerman’s ‘Cavalry Battle’, a painting measuring 54x75 inches, larger than the artist was at the time. By the time it was completed in 1961 he had received offers up to £8,300 for the painting, equivalent to £185,000 today.
By the mid-1960s Christian had become an established portrait artist and travelled across Europe exhibiting his paintings and drawings. His early portraits include Antonio Vargas, Howard Greer, Blake Edwards, Count Guido di Carpegna, Prince Edmuondo Ruspoli, HRH Princess Lalla Fatima Zohra, and Peter Cazalet, racehorse trainer to the Queen Mother.
In 1969 he held an exhibition of his drawings at the Upper Grosvenor Galleries in London. ‘I do not know which to admire the most; your courage in defying the tendencies of modern art or the skill with which you have done so,’ wrote Kenneth Clark at a time when Clark had just launched his universally acclaimed television series ‘Civilisation’.
During the 1980s Anthony Christian travelled widely, including Morocco, New York and Bali, where he built a gallery and museum for his private collection. He continued travelling throughout Asia, and set up a new base in India, where he also established a centre for biodynamic farming.
Married four times, currently to fellow painter Marian Fannon, he is now based near Leeds in northern England, where his output consists largely of landscapes, tree studies and detailed still lifes.
An extended article about Anthony Christian, written by Sarah Rodriguez for the March 2023 Courtauld Institute magazine The Courtauldian, can be found here.
We are very grateful to our Russian friend Yuri for introducing us to the work of this artist, and for supplying most of the images.