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Sir Lawrence Gowing; British Author and Artist

February 09, 1991|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

LONDON — Sir Lawrence Gowing, known as an artist and for the tapestry of words that he wove when writing about art, has died, the Royal Academy of Arts said.

Gowing, 72, died early Tuesday in London's Charing Cross Hospital of heart trouble.

At his death, Gowing was curator of the academy's collections, chairman of its exhibitions committee and former curatorial chairman of the Phillips Collection in Washington.

His book on the work of J.M.W. Turner, "Imagination and Reality," appeared in 1966 for an exhibition of Turner's art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Another book, about art in Paris' Louvre museum, "Paintings in the Louvre," appeared in 1987 in Britain and sold well in the United States.

Gowing wrote more than 50 books and catalogues on the old masters and modern art and artists.

In the late 1930s, he joined the Euston Road School of painters, founded by his tutor William Coldstream, who rebelled against modernism and painted their surroundings and their friends realistically. In the 1940s, he established a reputation as a portraitist and landscape artist. In later life, however, Gowing painted in an abstract style.

Gowing was a former deputy director of London's Tate Gallery and held professorships at the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the University of Pennsylvania.

Gowing was a conscientious objector in World War II but it did not prevent his knighthood in 1982 for services to art.

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