Sarah Raphael (1960-2001) showed a lively, precocious talent for painting at an early age. Her tragic death at the age of forty one was a devastation for her family: it also deprived the art world of one of its finest, most exciting figurative painters. Published to accompany a major retrospective exhibition at Marlborough Fine Art, Sarah Raphael recalls her incredible life and work.
When William Packer, artist and former art critic for the Financial Times, saw Sarah Raphael’s first solo exhibition in 1985, he was inexorably drawn to her work. That show made an impression strong enough to persuade him to keep a close eye on her thereafter, and to follow her subsequent exhibitions; he also became her friend, and remained so until her death. In Sarah Raphael, Packer seeks to embrace the artist’s body of work as a whole, commemorate her spirit and vivacity, and to explore her many artistic influences and interpretations.
Sarah’s development as an artist had been quick and breathtakingly impressive. As a child, her family travelled extensively including Spain, Italy and Greece. As her father, writer Frederic Raphael recalls, “she was promptly responsive to place, as to people”, and this charmingly nomadic lifestyle was to influence much of her future work. After gaining a First Class Honours Degree from the Camberwell School of Art in 1981, Sarah’s career explored several media in both figurative and abstract styles: as her work progressed, she was eventually nominated for the Turner Prize and exhibited at numerous high-profile galleries including The Royal Academy and the Whitechapel Gallery. Inspired not only by travel and people, she also used her physical suffering (she experienced agonising migraines throughout her adult life) as a basis for some of her work. Her accomplishments were numerous and acclaimed.
At the time of her death, Sarah was a celebrity in her own right, a status gained in the intense recognition of her exceptional artistic talent. As William Packer acknowledges his foreword to Sarah Raphael “who knows quite where it would have led her to by now, and what new worlds conquered”. Copiously illustrated with more than one hundred images, Sarah Raphael is a striking and fitting testament to one of the art world’s brightest stars – still sadly missed.
About the author:
Having trained as a painter at Wimbledon School of Art, he then went on to be the art critic for the Financial Times from 1974-2004. His books include a biographical study of Henry Moore and Fashion Drawing in Vogue.