Two Interesting Art Tidbits

King Charles III is an Avid Watercolorist — See 6 of His Iconic Paintings

BY FRANCESCA ATONPlus Icon

Prince Charles painting with watercolors, 1994,
Prince Charles painting with watercolors, 1994, in Klosters, Switzerland.PHOTO JULIAN PARKER/UK PRESS VIA GETTY IMAGES

Queen Elizabeth II may have been an avid horse breeder and corgi enthusiast, but her eldest son, the recently-crowned King Charles III, prefers to spend his time painting.

The King’s passion for visual art was cultivated from a young age. He learned to paint under the influence of Robert Waddell, a teacher at Scottish boarding school Gordonstoun, which was his father Prince Philip’s and his alma matter. He was later taught by British artists Edward Seago and John Napper. Additionally, he had access to artworks among the family’s Royal Collection Trust.

At 73 years of age, Charles has been painting—primarily landscapes—for nearly 50 years. Here are six paintings of some of his most memorable moments as Prince of Wales.

A watercolor of Castle Mey, the former home of Queen Elizabeth II, 1986.

Photo : A watercolor of Castle Mey, the former home of Queen Elizabeth II, 1986. Photo Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Castle Mey in northern Scotland, the former home of Queen Elizabeth, was one of King Charles’ most common subjects in his early work.

Curator Lauren Porter adjusts the watercolor Lochnagar from the Gelder Cottage, 2012; in the exhibition "Royal Paintbox: Royal Artists Past and Present," 2013–14, at Windsor Castle, Berkshire.

Photo : Curator Lauren Porter adjusts the watercolor Lochnagar from the Gelder Cottage, 2012; in the exhibition “Royal Paintbox: Royal Artists Past and Present,” 2013–14, at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. Photo Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

King Charles works exclusively with watercolor “to convey that almost ‘inner’ sense of texture,” as he wrote for an exhibition at London’s Garrison Chapel, where 79 of his works were shown.

King Charles is one of the UK’s bestselling living artists, having made an estimated £2 million ($2.14 million) from selling copies of his art between 1997 and 2016.

One of King Charles's watercolor paintings of Klosters, 1992, on a ski pass for the 1997 Season.

Photo : One of King Charles’s watercolor paintings of Klosters, 1992, on a ski pass for the 1997 season. Photo Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

An avid skier, King Charles visited Klosters in 1988, where he narrowly escaped an avalanche. In 1997, the Swiss city used his painting of the area on its seasonal ski pass.

A llithograph of a 1989 painting by King Charles in the exhibition "Double Haven Bay," Hong Kong.

Photo : A llithograph of a 1989 painting by King Charles in the exhibition “Double Haven Bay,” Hong Kong. Photo K. Y. Cheng/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

In 1989, the king and his ex-wife Princess Diana visited Hong Kong to officiate the opening of the city’s Cultural Center. 

This painting is now part of a marine park in northeast New Territories.

Watercolor of Balmoral, in the 1990s book "The Prince Of Wales Watercolours."

Photo : Watercolor of Balmoral, in the 1990s book “The Prince Of Wales Watercolours.” Photo Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland was home to the late Queen Elizabeth II until her death on September 8, 2022.

Watercolor of the Spittal of Glen Muick near Balmoral, in the 1990s book "The Prince Of Wales Watercolours."

Photo : Watercolor of the Spittal of Glen Muick near Balmoral, in the 1990s book “The Prince Of Wales Watercolours.” Photo Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

The landscape surrounding Balmoral Castle is one of King Charles’s favorite subjects to paint

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‘I Had Never Seen Anything Like It Before’: Steve Martin on the Spark That Led Him to Become One of the Top Collectors of Australian Indigenous Art

Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield at the National Arts Club in New York, which is currently hosting an exhibition of work from their collection of Indigenous Australian painting. Photo courtesy of the National Arts Club, New York.

A selection of Western Desert painting from the actor’s personal collection is now on view at the National Arts Club.

Sarah Cascone, September 26, 2022Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield at the National Arts Club in New York, which is currently hosting an exhibition of work from their collection of Indigenous Australian painting. Photo courtesy of the National Arts Club, New York. 

Steve Martin has been back in the headlines of late, thanks to his leading role in the hit Hulu comedy Only Murders in the Building. But he also has a star turn this fall at the National Arts Clubin New York, which is presenting a small but striking exhibition of Indigenous Australian art from the actor’s personal collection.

Titled “Selections from Australia’s Western Desert: From the Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield,” the show features six works from among the 50 or so contemporary paintings by Indigenous Australian artists that Martin has purchased with his wife since 2015.

The couple’s passion for this still rather obscure area of contemporary art got its start at Salon 94 on the Upper East Side, which at the time was presenting the first U.S. solo show for Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri. Martin read about the show in the New York Times, and was immediately intrigued. “I got on my bicycle, and I went down, and I bought one,” he told Artnet News.

Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri, Rockholes and Country Near the Olgas (2008). Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield.

Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri, Rockholes and Country Near the Olgas (2008). Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield.

Martin, of course, had been collecting for years, starting out with a James Gale Tyler seascape he picked up at an antique store for $500 at age 21 and still owns; today, he estimated, it has dipped in value to $300. (Martin’s next acquisition, a print by Ed Ruscha of the Hollywood sign, has probably fared better over the years.)

The love affair with Indigenous Australian art, however, was something of a slow burn for Martin and Stringfield.

“We hung it, we loved it, but we didn’t really think about it for a few years. But there is a whole culture around these paintings, and slowly, through osmosis, I began to learn more and more,” he said. “The history of Indigenous painting only goes back to about 1970—before that it was sand painting, wall painting, carving, and this was the first time these images could be set down in a permanent way.”

Making lasting, portable works that could be sold was transformative for the Indigenous art community—and brought something brand new to the art world, a movement that became known as Desert Painting.

“I think it’s such a fascinating story,” Martin said. He also appreciated collecting in an area where there wasn’t a huge amount of established scholarship.

“It’s fun to have something to study, to try to understand, to apply your critical eye to without any outside pressure,” he added. “There’s not a lot of promotion about [these] artists. You just have to find it out yourself.”

Slowly but surely, Martin began buying more and more Indigenous art, even traveling with Stringfield to Australia. (Though they didn’t make it to the Outback, they visited a center where working artists create their paintings.)

Carlene West, Tjitjitji. Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield.

They also met Indigenous artist Yukultji Napangati when she visited New York a few years ago and had her over to dinner.

“She made my daughter a family member, which was quite an honor, and I played the banjo,” Martin said. “Yukultji is quite a historical figure. She was one of the Pintupi Nine, and came in from the Outback when she was 13—had never seen a white man, had never seen a car—and then became a notable painter.”

As Martin and Stringfield’s holdings in Indigenous art grew, so too did their desire to show them to the world. To start, Martin staged a small show at the Uovo storage facility in Queens for friends and family.

Word got out. Next came an outing at Gagosian—nothing for sale, of course—that showed in both New York and Los Angeles, and an exhibition at the Australian counsel residence in New York. (That showed paired Martin’s collection with works owned by John Wilkerson, whose collection focuses on smaller, earlier works on board, before Indigenous artists got access to canvases.)

These days, Martin and Stringfield are winding down their active collecting.

“Our indigenous art collection is pretty dense—there’s not much left to acquire. Right now, we are just having fun moving works around,” Martin said. “I love to rotate things. Every time you move a picture, it’s like getting a new picture. You see it anew.”

And of course, he loves seeing his collection on the walls of the National Arts Club, which is currently presenting works by Tjapaltjarri, Bill Whiskey TjapaltjarriTimo HoganCarlene West, and Doreen Reid Nakamarra.

“It’s an unpredictable melange of pictures. There’s some later ones—Timo Hogan is very contemporary,” Martin said, adding that “in the Australian Indigenous art world, a 50 year old is considered a young painter.” Hogan is 49.

“I’d like people to be able to see the National Arts Club show because it’s very, very unusual,” he added. “And I hope they have the same experience I did—I had never seen anything like it before.”

“Selections From Australia’s Western Desert From the Collection of Steve Martin and Anne Stringfield” is on view at the National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, New York, September 12–October 27, 2022.

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