London: John Virtue

Thursday, February 2, 2006
Sunday, April 23, 2006

This extraordinary exhibition drew together twelve monumental paintings and 113 drawings created by John Virtue (born 1947) while he was Associate Artist of the National Gallery, London, from 2003 to 2005. In those works Virtue created a new vision of contemporary London, in which he sought to provide viewers with an intense visualization of his remembered experience of each building, of the visual relationships between structures, and of the overall topography of the city. Above all, the artist captured the vitality of London as he trained his pencil and brush on its abstract, visual patterns.

Virtue achieved his vision by working at specific sites in London, including the roof of Somerset House and that of the National Gallery, overlooking Trafalgar Square. He also crossed the river to the South Bank to capture the city from the opposite side of the Thames. Virtue filled his sketchbooks with drawings that express sustained observation and study. Shown with the monumental paintings for which they served as preparatory studies, these drawings illuminated how Virtue used his creative raw material in making his finished paintings.

London: John Virtue was organized by the Center in association with the National Gallery, London, and the

John Virtue, Landscape No. 326 (detail), 1996/97, ink, acrylic, and shellac on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Friends of British Art Fund

Courtauld Institute of Art, London. The organizing curator at the Center was Angus Trumble, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture. The exhibition was supported by the British Council. Yale University’s Jonathan Edwards College presented a concurrent exhibition entitled New Small Paintings of the Thames, 2005.


National Gallery, London:
March 9–June 5, 2005

Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, London:
March 9–June 5, 2005

Yale Center for British Art:
February 2–April 23, 2006