During this time, while we remain at home, we have the chance to reflect on what is best about England and, by extension, Britain. To this end, the Chris Beetles Gallery is providing a special service that should cheer the nation: a weekly series of online exhibitions of works for sale that celebrate aspects of our particular personality, and our pleasures and preoccupations.
These works are drawn from the gallery’s unparalleled stock of British Illustration and Cartoon Art, which is in itself one of the outstanding expressions of our distinctive creativity, with a long tradition that runs back through Rackham to Rowlandson and beyond. While certain illustrators and cartoonists have consciously and extensively explored the national theme – including Pont in The British Character (1938) and John Burningham in England (1992) – almost all allude to it in their imagery in profound, and profoundly entertaining ways.
Over the next few weeks, our selection is likely to touch on domestic and family life; national institutions; town and country; seasons and events; travel and holidays; sports and pastimes; and also individual characters, heroes and personalities. The emphasis of the selection will be on optimism and good humour, and sometimes – unapologetically – on sentiment and nostalgia. It will also remind us that, even during times of greatest national challenge, Britain remains strong in spirit.