Sir Lawrence Gowing CBE RA (21 April 1918 – 5 February 1991) was an important 20th century British painter, author, teacher and curator. Initially recognised as a portrait and landscape painter, he quickly rose to prominence as an art educator, writer, and eventually, curator and museum trustee.
Gowing was born in Hackney, East London, to a draper, Horace Gowing and his wife Louise. His first painting of note, Mare Street, Hackney, made reference to his father's shop.In 1936 the poet W.H. Auden introduced Gowing to the painter William Coldstream. Gowing became Coldstream’s pupil at 12 Fitzroy Street, London after enrolling in 1938. This became the home of the School of Drawing and Painting, set up by Coldstream, Claude Rogers, Victor Pasmore, and Graham Bell. After moving premisies in 1938 it was renamed the Euston Road School. When Kenneth Clark, director of the National Gallery and also a backer of the Euston Road School, purchased a self-portrait, Gowing’s father was persuaded to let his son become a painter.
The Second World War broke up the School - Gowing’s Quaker background and Bloomsbury connections lay behind his conscientious objection, and he was given exemption from service on condition that he continued to paint!
Before the end of the war Gowing started to teach at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, alongside Coldstream and Pasmore. A chance encounter with Robin Darwin, then Head of Fine Art at King’s College, Newcastle, led him to apply to be his replacement, and in 1948, aged only 30, Gowing was appointed to the post of Professor of Fine Art, a position he held until 1958. At Newcastle he oversaw dramatic changes in the teaching of art through Pasmore and Hamilton’s ‘basic course’, as well as leading on the development of the Hatton’s permanent Collection and exhibition programme.
In 1959 Gowing became principal of the new Chelsea School of Art, it became a model for art education: art history was integrated with studio practice and an option programme ranging across science, music, philosophy, and literature was introduced. Gowing resigned from Chelsea in 1965 in order to become keeper of the British collections and deputy director of the Tate Gallery. He also became a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, and the British Museum, and was a member of the Arts Council of Great Britain.In 1978, Gowing was elected an associate of the Royal Academy of Arts and was made honorary curator of its collections in 1985.He travelled to the United States to serve as Kress Professor at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., and was also curator of the Phillips Collection in Washington. Gowing was knighted in 1982 and made a chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, in France in 1985. He received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1980. Gowing made three popular BBC television series, 'Three Painters' (1984, 1986, and 1987), on Massaccio, Vermeer, Brueghel, Goya, Matisse, Rembrandt, Turner, Giotto, and Cézanne.We are absolutely thrilled to be representing Lawrence Gowing's work.Please contact us for any purchase enquiries or to request a viewing.