The Piccadilly Gallery was founded in 1953 by the late Godfrey and Eve Pilkington. First in the Piccadilly Arcade and then to 16a Cork Street in 1955, and some years later to No16 Cork Street.
They made their reputation in the 1960s by championing Art Nouveau and 19th and 20th Century Symbolism. In the 1970s they held ground breaking exhibitions of the Viennese Secessionists and German New Realists.
Pilkington was not an enthusiast for abstract or conceptual art. He looked for "originality of vision, competence and something not totally unconnected with the old-fashioned concept of beauty", and feared that the fashionable prejudices of the contemporary art establishment were deterring many young artists and buyers from following their true aesthetic instincts.
Young figurative artists, he once said, found themselves "up against it" if they resisted the "smart pressure" to produce the kind of contemporary art that gets talked about.
Buyers, meanwhile, were becoming "nervous of buying something that they actually like" and were investing in "pictures they don't like because they've been told they are good".
While other galleries yielded to the forces of rampant commercialism, the Pilkington Gallery always retained the charm of a kinder, more gentlemanly era.
At first the exhibitions in the gallery were of contemporary figurative painters, then Godfrey Pilkington became increasingly interested in British and European works circa 1990. This led to the first commercial exhibition of Art Noveua in 1964, this was followed in 1968 by the exhibition ‘Les Salons de la Rose+Croix 1892-1897’ and ‘Symbolists 1860-1925’, ‘Gustav Klimt’ 1973 and ‘Franz von stuck’ in 1974. Since then the gallery has always dealt in symbolist works. British Art featured strongly with exhibitions of Stanley Spencer , Eric Gill, Max Beerbohm and Augustus John, as well as contemporary figurative artists.
In 1999 the gallery moved to its final home in Dover Street.
It closed in 2007 and became without premises however the business continues online, we still have stock of some paintings, some of which are illustrated on this website.