Nashville-based interior decorator Lannie Neal has spent decades appointing the homes and businesses of the area’s most discerning clientele with art from all over the world. In that time, Neal has collected dozens of pieces from Western Europe, visiting shops in some of the world’s most historic centers of culture.
Now, pieces from his personal collection of European art — some antique, some remarkably modern — are on display at Haynes Galleries in its current exhibition “The Lannie Neal Collection,” running until February 28.
“Delicate pen [and] ink drawings of classical and religious scenes, careful studies of anatomy, painted portraits of long-forgotten nobles [and] etchings of picturesque ancient ruins are just some of the highlights [of the collection],” according to the gallery. “But even though Neal admits to collecting mostly 16th, 17th and 18th century Old Master artworks, there are also eye-catching modern pieces in his collection.”
The collection includes classical figure drawings, surreal oil paintings, a wooden santo figure, a Norman Rockwell lithograph and more. Many of the works are untitled or attributed to unknown artists, enhancing the feeling in visitors that they are accompanying Neal on a trip through le marché de la création to collect whatever strikes them, regardless of genealogy.
One untitled work in the collection, a wood and marble relief sculpture attributed to an infamous classical sculptor, demonstrates the incredible history that this expatriate conglomeration holds.
“It is attributed to 17th century Dutch artist Grinling Gibbons, a prolific Dutch-English sculptor,” per Haynes Galleries. “From a distance it might appear like a monochromatic painted floral still life but upon close inspection, the flowers, vase and pedestal are all three-dimensional.”
Gibbons’ work lives in Windosr Castle, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trinity College Oxford and other British centers of art and history. He may very well be the most prolific wood carver in English history. In more ways than one, this piece and this collection demonstrate the secrets that any artwork can hold.
Haynes Galleries is located in Franklin.