Christian, Anthony

At the age of ten, the boy, Anthony Christian, was copying masterpieces in London’s National Gallery. Such was his precocious talent, he was the only child ever permitted to do such a thing. It led to his first major oil painting: a full-size, 6ft by 4.5 ft, copy of the Dutch master Philips Wouwermann’s, Cavalry Battle. This celebrated painting is one that Anthony has kept.

In the 1970’s Christian was one of London’s top portrait artists. This expanded and he became a top portraitist in Europe and in New York. He preferred then to draw portraits rather than to paint. In 1973, his portrait of Lord Mountbatten so pleased the sitter that he commissioned Christian to portray,”the entire Family.”

However, the idea of being a “Court Painter”, despite its allusions to some of the most illustrious artists in history, did not appeal. On the contrary, in that moment, he was passionately trying to find his expression as an artist in oils.  He preferred not to tell that to Lord Mountbatten, who was already astonished he had not leapt at his offer in proud delight.
Christian had three greatly valued mentors in those days, and he went to see one of them, Lord Kenneth Clark, who at that time was probably the best known name in art throughout the world. He had just completed his hugely successful television series “Civilization.”  Anthony told him his problem.
Lord Clark replied that he admired Anthony’s determination to find his own artist’s voice, and admired him equally for not being tempted by the obvious material benefits from portraying the Royals. “However,” he said, “I do think they will need some appeasement.” To that end, he continued, “I think you should go out and find your voice, and create the greatest collection of drawings and paintings by a British artist we have seen in over a hundred years, which I believe you quite capable of. Once you feel it is complete, then return to this country and I shall curate your collection at the Royal Academy. Its no doubt dazzling quality will bring pride to this country and I am sure act as more than mere appeasement to the Royals.”
Those were Lord Clark’s words, still ringing in his ears, as he left not much later for Rome. It was the beginning of a new journey. However, that journey, which had been imagined as anything from three to five years, led him to live in eighteen countries over the next twenty five years. During that quarter of a  century, he created a magnificent selection of drawings and paintings.
Despite Anthony Christian’s portrait of Lord Mountbatten causing the Queen pleasure for half of her lifetime, giving him an easy path to commercial and social success with his art, he chose instead to spend his considerable talents on the genre of erotic art. A long and profound study of that genre convinced Christian not just that it was a genre that should be as accepted into public art consciousness as landscapes, still life, portraiture and all the other genres, but that it was nothing less than his duty to contribute to it for the rest of his life, in the hopes that such acceptance might eventually come about. His very considerable and acclaimed talents are now devoted to that end.
Amongst many reviews there are:

Vogue Magazine  “Anthony Christian is a new world’s child who makes old world portraits with a precocious facility about which he is extremely and passionately prickly and proud…” 

Lord Kenneth Clark (“Civilization”)  “I don’t know which to admire the most; your courage in defying the tendencies of modern art or the skill with which you have done so.”

Society Magazine  “The world’s foremost Renaissance-style painter.” 

International Herald Tribune  “Beautiful economical in effect….But even when he essays that most difficult of all drawings, the single line circumscribing a figure in movement, he still succeeds in giving an impression of effortlessness.” 

John Russell Taylor Art Critic ‘The Times’  “Anthony Christian paints and draws like an angel but with, these days, a touch of devilment.”

The Evening Standard  “Anthony Christian’s collision of the Renaissance, Surrealism and the cyber-age will be fascinating to watch.”