20 DECEMBER 1930, Page 13


WHY is it, I wonder, that so few people dare to give contem- porary oil paintings, drawings and water colours as Christmas presents ? Sir Joseph Duveen, in his recent book Thirty Years of British Art, mentions nn acquaintance with an income of £4,000 a year who admitted that he had not a single original painting in his house. • " It seems absurd on the face of it," Sir Joseph goes on, " but these people—often persons of culture and education—have got to be taught that it is perfectly easy to buy a first-rate original oil painting by a skilful living artist for £50—or less."

This shyness of people about buying modern pictures is extraordinary. One would expect—are we not a nation of gamblers ?—that the picture market would boom, yet, fur from this being the case, the picture-buying public remains discreetly small. Moreover, those who do buy are influenced far more by individual appreciation or snobbish acquisitiveness than by the pious hope that their original outlay may be returnable to them in a few years plus an interest which would satisfy the aspirations of a Shyloek.

This year many galleries—apart from those which are having ordinary shows—are making a special effort to provide a solution to the Christmas present problem, and they deserve to be supported. After all, how many people, Christmas after Christmas, both give and receive presents that range from 25 to £20 in price—presents which are never really appreciated—useless, costly things whose market value a day after their purchase would barely reach a third of their cost price ? Their number must be legion, and what countless chances are lost every year—chances of buying oil paintings, drawings, water colours, ceramics and painted furniture which will not only delight the eye, but increase in value ! Even if the prospective Luyer picks a loser, he will have the fun of tacking his own judgment and the subsequent deterioration of price Will be no greater than in the case of his ordinary presents.

I do urge those in doubt to go round the galleries : visit The Venice of Henry de Waroqui at three Leicester Galleries, and the second exhibition by the East London Group at the galleries of Reid and Lefevre in King Street, St. James's. For those who are interested in pottery or porcelain, I recommend an hour spent at Walker's Galleries, New Bond Street, where there is an exhibition of the work of those distinguished potters, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Vyse.

Again, there is the Christmas show by members of the London Artists' Association at Cooling Galleries, New Bond Street, which should be very helpful to the harassed present buyer. There are no paintings here, but a tremendous choice of presents from five shillings upwards—trays, bowls, needlework, lampshades and furniture. For those who are prepared to go above ten guineas there are tiled tables by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, who also exhibits a delightful set of chairs with cross stitch panels, painted tables by Douglas Davidson and Raymond Coxon, and rugs by Vivian Pitchforth.

At the Wertheim Gallery one can choose a present from £2 to £200 and the range of choice stretches from the seventeenth century to the present day. Those who jib conscientiously at all manifestations of contemporary art will find Victorian ink bottles, tea caddies, ship models, glass pictures, nineteenth-century lithographs of Australian views, hunting prints and water colours, animal drawings, and jewel caskets —Elizabethan, Queen Anne and Georgian—almost anything, in fact, from a brace-button to an anchor 1. With this pleasant gallimaufry, there are drawings by Muirhead Bone and Richard Sickert—at very low prices—water colours by Frances Hodgkins, Alexander Robinson, David Jones and John Ranting : sculpture by Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth, as well as casts of John Skeaping's sculpture, and pottery by Bernard Leech. In fact, nothing could be simpler than to choose a Christmas present which will be counted unto you for righteousness.