Originally built by James Gibbs as the London home for the Duchess of Norfolk in 1735-6, Rutland House takes its name from its ownership by the Fifth Duke of Rutland from 1816. The grand stone staircase with fine wrought iron balusters and the rooms around it have been a classical backcloth for the “Young Masters”, a collaboration between ROSL Arts and the Cynthia Corbett Gallery.
Rutland House is now part of the Royal Overseas League, connected into the adjacent Vernon House and has the unusual feature of a ‘Crinoline stair’, with bowed balusters designed to allow fashionable aristocratic ladies to flow gracefully down the stairs in their flowing dresses.
For sixty years, RSOL has been supporting arts and music, through such initiatives as the ROSL Annual Music Competition, the ROSL Commonwealth Music Scholarships and the ROSL Commonwealth Visual Arts Scholarships. The Young Masters is a natural extension, allowing contemporary artists who work in a classical tradition, though sometimes in contemporary media, and who have submitted to the Young Masters Art Prize established by Cynthia Corbett in 2008, to exhibit in the heart of Mayfair in London. In 2016, the Young Masters Art Prize was shown in another historic building, Lloyds Club near Fenchurch Station. Around the staircase and in the adjacent rooms are Fabriano Parisi’s photographs of empty and decaying interiors, Lluis Barba’s gallery of views of Modern Rome, Eleanor Watson’s painting which is reminiscent of a clubroom and Lars Reiffers’ painting of the Battles Gallery at Versailles, while Lottie Davies raises questions about the future of historic buildings in her snow-covered library with a naked baby lying in front of the cold fireplace. What is his future and the future of the library is which he lies?
There are classical and powerful black and white photographs by Isabella van Zelijl, Elizabeth Caren and Sandro Miller, while, moving into ceramics, Tessa Eastman’s Clouds have a coral-like feeling. Flower arrangements in a 21st recreation of Dutch paintings are provided by Christopher Steinmeyer and John Phillips, while Antoine Schneck’s photographic prints have a mysterious and surreal atmosphere from another culture.
These are just a few of the 30 artists on show in this excellent partnership, with the 2017 Young Masters Art Prize now in progress., and may interest a few younger visitors in joining the Royal Overseas Club.