Portrait of F M Alexander – a ‘National Treasure’
The Antiques Roadshow (BBC 1) is always full of surprises but it was particularly pleasing to see a wonderful oil painting of F M Alexander being brought in for valuation by a relation of his. The portrait was made to celebrate Alexander’s eightieth birthday in 1948 by the respected Australian artist Colin Colahan. Alexander’s hands, which were so special and the main tool of his teaching, were painted brilliantly, expressing their sensitivity very well.
It was good to hear Alexander described as a ‘great man‘ and a ‘National Treasure’ by the auctioneer and on TV. Of course people in the AT world understand Alexander’s importance but it is reassuring to hear such praise coming from a somewhat unexpected quarter and so very publicly. Because the artist is well known and as Alexander was world renowned and ‘such an important sitter‘ the painting was given the valuation of £5,000.
Alexander has been listed as one of the top 200 most important Australians and in Tasmania there’s this inscription acknowledging his importance:
“On a nearby property was born Frederick Matthias Alexander, 20th January 1869 – 10th October 1955 Founder of the Alexander Technique, Discoverer of Fundamental Facts about Functional Human Movement. One of 200 who made Australia great”
However it was here in England that Alexander did did most of his teaching and training of AT teachers, so he could also be described as one of our own ‘National Treasures’.
It was enjoyable hearing the enthusiastic auctioneer describing his understanding of the Technique and how he tries to use it whilst working. He so obviously appreciated the AT for helping him to be more relaxed and poised whilst working.
Apparently the Antiques Roadshow programme was a repeat and I understand that the portrait was actually sold by Sotheby’s Australia in November 2012 in the category of ‘ Important Australian Art’ – for £8,470 GDP.
You can see the portrait plus a short piece about Alexander on the BBC website. However, it is a shame that the BBC have not created a link to the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, STAT, the UK based and oldest AT teachers’ organisation in the world: