Chris Beetles Fine Photographs specialises in photographic prints by the world's most sought after photographers, with an emphasis on 20th century masters and British photography. Founded in 2011, the gallery offers many different types of prints, including those printed near the time of photograph, those printed-later, as well as modern and posthumous prints. Prices range from £1200 to £50000+. The gallery holds 6-8 exhibitions per year, and maintains a large dynamic stockroom, which will be accessible to the public on request.
The story so far:
The Chris Beetles Gallery was established in 1975, and has since gained a reputation for exhibiting the finest examples of British art, with a particular emphasis on illustration and watercolour. The gallery’s comprehensive exhibitions, and museum quality catalogues, are regarded as some of the best in the world.
Chris Beetles exhibited his first ever photography show in 2005, encouraged by his assistant, Giles Huxley-Parlour: an exhibition by legendary photographer Terry O’Neill. This show – with striking black-and-white portraits - represented a major departure from the gallery’s previous exhibitions, but proved to be a sell-out success. Hundreds of prints were sold, the show attracted national and international media attention, and Terry declared it the best exhibition of his career.
Terry had promised to put the gallery in touch with his old mucker, the photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones, better known as Lord Snowdon – but only if his own show proved a success.True to his word, Terry picked up the phone, and an exhibition was scheduled for the following September. Snowdon, despite being one of the country’s best-loved photographers, had never had a commercial exhibition. Once again, the show was a runaway success, with one of the prints making the front page of The Sunday Times, and then selling out in four days.
From then on, interest in photography at the gallery snow-balled, and a constant photography department was formed. Under the supervision of Giles Huxley-Parlour, it specialised in British photographers, who were inexplicably unrepresented in the market place. Numerous exhibitions followed, including Patrick Lichfield, Terence Donovan, John Swannell, Cecil Beaton, Bill Brandt, Paul Kenny, Brian Duffy, Norman Parkinson and Edwin Smith. Presented in beautiful frames, and accompanied by highly researched catalogues, the gallery’s shows raised the standard for photography galleries everywhere.
By late 2009, it was becoming clear that the gallery was in a unique position to begin to dominate the photography market in London. The UK has a huge appetite for photography, which is clear from the way the medium pervades our museums, bookshops and newspaper supplements, but it is no match for America or continental Europe in terms of commercial gallery spaces. Even today, it is still difficult to buy prints by many world-famous photographers in London. With this in mind, the gallery moved into selling international masters, as well as British photographers. This began with an exhibition of the American modernist, Edward Weston, in September 2010, and then a comprehensive mixed survey of photographs in October 2010. This show contained over 40 different names, from Eugène Atget to Martin Parr, and was the gallery’s most ambitious show to date.
Chris Beetles and Giles Huxley-Parlour had also decided that it was time to open a second space in London, to focus purely on photographs. After months and months of searching, they happened upon a perfect space at 3-5 Swallow Street, just off London’s Piccadilly. Previously occupied by contemporary art leviathan, Hauser & Wirth, the gallery needed a little cosmetic work, but was otherwise perfect in every possible way. And so Chris Beetles Fine Photographs was born.