My favourite painting: Andrew Love

Andrew Love, adviser to The Ritz, chooses a picture he bought from an artist who used to exhibit on the railings at Green Park, right next to the famous hotel.

Andrew Love on Roundabout by Roy Petley

‘A favourite painting in my case is not a recognised work of art, but a painting that I acquired more than 30 years ago by an artist that used to exhibit on the railings overlooking Green Park in Piccadilly. It is called the Roundabout and was painted by Roy Petley.

‘He began his life in a children’s home, became one of the first artists to open a gallery in Cork Street and subsequently became an artist admired by the late Queen Mother and other members of the Royal Family.

‘I love it because it brings back memories of the freedom and fun of past times and for its beautiful vibrant colours.’

Andrew Love is senior advisor to The Ritz, chairman of St James’s Conservation Trust and a director of HOLBA.

John McEwen on Roundabout

Roy Petley writes: ‘A balmy summer evening in 1986, with my little paint box, easel and panels I arrived on Hampstead Heath to capture a sketch of evening lights. To my delight there was a steam fair with, most unique of all, an antique carousel with brightly painted horses, steam coming out of its chimney and children gathered excitedly waiting their turn. I painted late into the night and as it got darker the more intense grew the chrome-yellow light of the carousel and the longer the shadows of the figures. I thought of past artists and what they could have done with such a splendid spectacle.’

Mr Petley was oldest of a large family in Grantham. An unruly upbringing led to his removal at five to the Woodlands School, East Sussex, for abandoned children, his home for 10 years. ‘Drawing, drawing’ was his consolation, nurtured by the art master, Mr Price.

His enthusiasm meant that, one week, he used all the class’s art materials for the term. At 16, he was awarded a place to learn commercial art at Brighton School of Art. When his request to do fine art was refused, he hitchhiked to Florence to study the Old Masters. He lived by his art and wits and, returning to England, worked briefly at the Greenwich Theatre.

At 20, after gallery refusals, he exhibited on the Green Park railings. The Duchess of Kent bought a picture, leading to the patronage of the Queen Mother, The Prince of Wales and other members of the Royal Family. In 2003, he opened Roy Petley Fine Art in London as an outlet for like-minded traditionalists. Today, the business is based in Mallorca, Spain.