In April 1956, at the suggestion of his friend Francis Bacon, Richard Chopping took the society hostess Ann Fleming to see some of his trompe l’oeil paintings, which were then on show at the Arthur Jeffress Gallery in Mayfair. Impressed by these pictures, Fleming invited the artist to meet her husband, Ian, who was looking for someone to provide dust-jacket illustrations for his James Bond novels.
Chopping was immediately offered the job, and his striking designs remain the work for which he is best known and are, for many collectors, the reason the novels are particularly prized.
As this small but imaginatively curated exhibition demonstrates, there was a great deal more to Chopping than James Bond. Nevertheless, the highly detailed, finely executed and often macabre paintings he produced for Fleming are characteristic of his work as a whole. Born in Essex in 1917, Chopping moved to London at the age of 18 with little idea of what he wanted to do, but soon got a job on the magazine Decorations of the Modern Home.