Philip Naviasky blue plaque

Philip Naviasky Blue Plaque

Philip Naviasky Blue Plaque

Portrait artist Philip Naviasky got some recognition in May with a Leeds Civic Trust blue plaque installed at his former home 579 Scotthall Road Leeds LS7 2NF.

Born 140 years ago in Leeds, and best known for his enigmatic portraiture, Philip Naviasky can now be regarded as one of the most understated yet technically accomplished Modern British artists who worked outside of the capital.

The son of Polish immigrants, Naviasky won a scholarship to the ‘Leeds School of Fine Art’ in 1907, at the age of just thirteen, before being accepted into the Royal Academy Schools just five years later. After winning a Royal Exhibition Award Naviasky went on to study at the ‘Royal College of Art’ (RCA). He exhibited at the Royal Academy Annual, and now called Summer, exhibitions 10 times between 1914 and 1954.
Returning to Leeds, after the First World War, and taking up a post at ‘Leeds College of Art’, he focused both on portraiture and landscape painting, and exhibiting.

Although painting many fine landscapes, Naviasky is perhaps best regarded for his portraiture and its timeless depiction of the rapidly changing styles and fashions of the time. Naviasky’s subjects were mainly women and girls, some from his travels in Spain, the south of France and Morocco. Many of Naviasky’s sitters were selected for their interesting features; his works often focus on themes as opposed to personal identities.

He also painted figures from within his Jewish heritage in Leeds, as well as portraits of politicians Ramsay Macdonald (Labour’s first Prime Minister), Philip Snowden, and the industrialist Lord Nuffield. Only recently gaining the recognition he deserves, the portraits of Philip Naviasky represent a bold way of depicting a society and era full of uncertainties, in a way which stands quite independent from the more well established and reputed artists working in the London schools.

Naviasky’s decision to work in Yorkshire is perhaps responsible for his slow emergence to the rank of greatness, for, undeniably, artists working in London such as Augustus John (1878-1961) by this point held a dominating position in the market for portraiture.
That is not to say, however, that Yorkshire didn’t also embrace and encourage the arts, and Naviasky, along with several other contemporaries, benefitted greatly from several key and influential patrons connected to industry.

After purchasing the house on Scotthall Road in 1996 Suzie and Richard Hamlin found two chairs in the garden studio which Philip Naviasky would have sat on to paint and evidence of where paintings had hung. They are delighted that Naviasky’s former home has received the blue plaque and local recognition for his artwork.

“From the moment we purchased our first painting (from the rug shop in Chapel Allerton) in the late ’90s, we have loved his work. So many serendipitous connections have led us to where we are today. We met Ali and Dave from Staithes Art Gallery who have 13 pieces of his stunning work, through to meeting his Patron’s grandchildren and his great nephews and nieces, plus someone on the Antiques Roadshow who owns a painting of his old art studio which is in our garden.
As aptly written in 1932 – he has ‘the happiest of touches”.

Suzie Hamlin

Philip Naviasky Blue Plaque
Leeds Civic Trust unveiling the blue plaque to celebrate Philip Naviasky
Philip Naviaskys work on Antiques Roadshow 2024
Antiques Roadshow Roundhay Park (Episode 3 of 3). Current homeowners (Suzie and Richard Hamlin and family) showcased Philip Naviasky's work on the Antiques Roadshow (first broadcast 8pm Sunday 4th Feb 2024, available on BBC iPlayer) Shown here with presenter Fiona Bruce.

Love art from Yorkshire?
Visit English Art Co. at Roundhay Park who regularly showcase local artists in their gorgeous gallery.

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