Anabel’s bar was widely considered to be the most elegant club in the London. This is a hyperbolic statement, but it is not hyperbole; it was actually thought of that way. The artist Nicholas Garland sat in the club and sketched the people he saw there. He later created the linocuts which were used to create the prints that formed the Anabel portfolio.
The 14 prints in the portfolio are all, every one of them, superb. As the artist Lucian Freud wrote in the Introduction, “These linocuts are of a high order: they are works of art.” Remarkably, despite the two-dimensionality of a linocut, these pictures have depth and richness in their content; the figures we see in these pictures are immediately recognizable (not as specific people but as characters and personalities). The printing itself is only of the very highest quality, with luxurious inking on lovely paper.
The portfolio was specially commissioned by, and published by, Mark Birley, then the owner of Anabel’s. The edition was shown and made available only to the club’s members and friends. Works from the Anabel portfolio rarely reach the marketplace and consistently demand high prices.
This couple, walking into the club, clearly belong. They have arrived (or perhaps were born to it). They are class. Is Garland parodying this couple, observing them with respect, or attempting a dispassionate depiction?