Anthony J Sargeant remembers the smogs in London during the 1950s when as shown in this photograph visibility could be so poor that paraffin flares had to be used to direct traffic in the city.
The Great Smog of London, or Great Smog of 1952 was a severe air-pollution event that affected the British capital in December 1952. A period of cold weather, combined with an anti-cyclone and windless conditions, collected airborne pollutants – mostly arising from the use of coal – to form a thick layer of smog over the city.
In those days most domestic heating was based on open coal fires and in addition there were major coal fired power stations in the centre of the city.
Anthony Sargeant and his partner drove down through Europe in an Austin A35 van and ended up here in Sibenik on the Adriatic coast of what was then Yugoslavia ruled by Tito. This photograph was taken on a small wooded resort island just of the coast of Sibenik where small ferry boats took holiday makers to enjoy the sun and the sea. Šibenik is a city on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. It’s known as a gateway to the Kornati Islands. The 15th-century stone Cathedral of St. James is decorated with 71 sculpted faces. Nearby, the Šibenik City Museum, in the 14th-century Prince’s Palace, has exhibits ranging from prehistory to the present. The white stone St. Michael’s Fortress has an open-air theater, with views of Šibenik Bay and neighboring islands.
In a lovely carved Italian frame this painting of cherubs amused Anthony Sargeant some 30 years ago when he saw it in a provincial auction. He plans to sell it through Bonhams in Knightsbridge in the next few months. If you are interested keep an eye on Bonhams listings for 19th Century art.
This is a detail of an etching made by William Strang of one of his collaborators, Ernest Sichel which is among 24 etchings owned by Anthony J Sargeant.
For the first twenty years of his career, Strang practised primarily as a printmaker. Although he did paint, he did not begin to exhibit his paintings until the early 1890s. From the mid-1890s he started to become increasingly occupied with more lucrative portrait commissions and began to shift the emphasis of his art from etching to painting and drawing. However, he continued to work as a printmaker throughout his career. In 1918 he became President of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers and in 1921 was elected an Engraver Member of the Royal Academy. He died suddenly in 1921, shortly after his election as Royal Academician.
During his lifetime, Dumbarton-born William Strang (1859 – 1921) built up an international reputation as a highly skilled and imaginative printmaker, portraitist and painter. His diverse subjects ranged from the fantastic to the very real, including uncompromising depictions of contemporary life and the effects of poverty and social injustice, landscapes, subjects from the bible, bewildering allegories, and narrative illustrations. He was also a prolific and highly successful portraitist.