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Geoffrey Key - A Gentleman Artist

Geoffrey is fast approaching his 83rd birthday and he is painting as industriously as ever and continually producing amazing works.

Let's take a look at a brief background of Geoffreys work from the early years..

The Nab paintings are really where it all starts.

These are very important paintings and are now hard to find as most have being sold over the years. The one below I got from Geoffrey not so long ago, which came available.


Geoffrey Key (b.1941)'Night Nab' 1964
14" (H) x 21" (W)
Oil on Board
The Nab series of work, is how Geoffrey created his style, you can see the influences of his current work today, the background lines of colour and usage of the impasto. 

The Nab is a Hill in Derbyshire and Geoffrey spent around two years painting it in all weathers.

The reason behind this was so Geoffrey could create his own style and get rid of the influence of his teacher Harry Rutherford.

Geoffrey has gone on to produce many landscapes which have been born from the Nab and over the years they all have that essence but have changed slightly from decade to decade.

Below is a beautiful example of a large landscape currently on display in the gallery


Geoffrey Key 'Sunlit Valley' 2003
30" (H) x 48" (W)
Oil on Canvas
Provenance: Private Collection. 
Page 198 of the G Key book by Judith O'Leary.

Notice the rich colours which are different from the Nab painting.

The change in colour from his early works to the ones you see today is due to his first visit to Hong Kong in the 1990's for an exhibition. Geoffrey says the light was amazing when he stepped off the plane and it was the first time he truly saw colour! This visit influenced his colour palette massively and more vibrant colours started to appear in his works like you see in the landscape above.

Again in this painting you see the impasto of the paint, colour blocks and movement, all taken from the Nab.


Geoffrey Key (b.1941)'Orange Lights, Hong Kong' 1994
24" (H) x 20" (W)
Oil on Board

Above is a painting of Hong Kong after Geoffrey came back from his show at the Mandarin Gallery, on the plane back Geoffrey lost his sketch book and was never found!.


Paint and canvas are very important to Geoffrey and quality counts!

Geoffrey has always used Old Holland paints. Old Holland paints have been around for a few years to say the least.

Artists such as Van Gogh used Old Holland mainly because of the quality and consistency of the product.

Canvas is another of Geoffrey's important points. Canvas preparation has always been at the forefront of Geoffrey's work and for longevity this is very important.

You might have seen work by other 20th Century or Contemporary artists where cracks have appeared.

This normally is down to poor canvas preparation.

I know Geoffrey tends to coat the canvas many times to prepare it before starting block out the painting.

Blocking out is a word used to sketch out the painting in its early stages.


Another off Geoffrey's very popular images are horse paintings and these are very much sort after by collectors.

Below is a very nice example.


Dated 1993
36" (H) x 36" (W)
Oil on Canvas

Again in this painting notice the lines and shading, all coming from the early Nab works.

This large painting is on canvas and a lot of Geoffrey's later work is, that said a lot of work up too and into the nineties was on board.

Horses have appeared in Geoffrey paintings throughout the years and have had many subject matters.

Below is an example of a Harlequin on horseback.


Geoffrey Key (b.1941)'Harlequin with Moon'
Dated 2017
Size 36" (H) x 36" (W)
Oil on Canvas

Obviously Geoffrey has produced many different images over the years, Horses, Landscape, City Scapes, Portraits, Bird Series, Commedia dell'arte Series, Gastronomic Series and many more.

One I love from the Bird Series is this Cockerel below.


Geoffrey Key (b.1941)'Cockerel II'
20" (H) x 16" (W)
Oil on Canvas From Geoffrey's Bird Series in 2010, 
only 23 oils were painted from this series.
Illustrated book by Judith O'Leary

I like this painting due to it having all the elements of Geoffrey's style, the lines, shading background all typical of his work.

It is also hard to find any of the Bird paintings from this series almost like the early Clown series.

The Clown series is a very interesting series for Geoffrey, from an aspect of value.

The early clown series these days normally demand at least double retail.

It was a very short series of which I was lucky to see in the flesh.

Below is an image of the book, well worth getting if only to see the images.



I can't finish talking about Geoffrey without mentioning his Bronzes.

Not everyone knows, but over the years Geoffrey has produced some very low number bronzes which are totally stunning.

I have seen Geoffreys studio with the work and also been with Geoffrey to the foundry.

Like Geoffreys preparation for his paintings he dose not cut corners on quality, the same for the bronzes only one of the best foundry's will do, Castle Fine Arts Foundry.

Some of his sculptures are currently in the gallery on display so it's a great chance to come and see them together.


Geoffrey Key (b.1941)'Woman with Bird' 1978
25" (H) x 30" (W)
BronzeEdition of 4

This year sees the retail price increase for a typical 20" x 24" oil going from 12 - 13k

When I started buying Geoffreys work for the gallery in and around the year 2000, retail was £1200!

Not a bad growth rate over the years!

Buying a painting isn't about the pound growth its about learning about the artist and also about art in general, its an amazing world to be a part of.

My next blog is about just that, how to build an art collection.

Martin Heaps

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