We are involved in the following events
12 April 2017
On Friday we visited Brighton Museum and Art Gallery to see the opening of Constable and Brighton. As the title suggests, the show brings together works by John Constable made during his visits to the Sussex coast in the 1820s. Covering his most successful decade professionally, this focussed exhibition gives a fascinating insight into Constable’s working practices and technique. We were delighted to be able to support the show by sponsoring the loan of an important drawing Constable made in 1824 at Brighton, which has come from the Stuart Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
At TEFAF, Maastricht, which opens next Thursday, we are excited to be showing a series of six panels painted by Martin Battersby for Lady Diana Cooper. Painted in 1950 to decorate Lady Diana Cooper’s drawing room at the Château St-Firmin in Chantilly, the panels were conceived as baroque trophies en grisaille, each celebrating periods in the life of Diana Cooper, her husband, Duff Cooper, later 1st Viscount Norwich, a celebrated politician and diplomat, and their son, the writer John Julius, later 2nd Viscount Norwich. Battersby, who had collaborated with Cecil Beaton on stage designs, before becoming a celebrated decorative artist, worked in an elegant, neo-classical style, inflected with elements of surrealism. The panels remained in situ in Chantilly until Diana Cooper returned to London, where they were installed in her drawing room in Little Venice; they have been in store since her death in 1986 and will be exhibited publicly for the first time at TEFAF Maastricht. We are very excited that this installation is made in collaboration with Soane Britain.
8 February 2017
We are very excited to publish our 2017 catalogue. We have been fortunate over the last year to have made some very significant acquisitions including a number newly discovered works. The most remarkable of these is the previously unknown group of eleven sheets of studies by Sir Peter Lely. The group are published in our catalogue, but have already found a new home at the Yale Center for British Art where they will provide a fulcrum for the further advancement of our understanding of the development and practice of British portraiture in the seventeenth century.
16 January 2017
16 November 2016
We are pleased to be supporting Gainsborough’s House in their campaign to raise money for a major redevelopment. Situated in Sudbury, in Suffolk, Gainsborough’s House, the birthplace of the artist, contains an outstanding collection of his works by the artist and associated figures. We have a lengthy interest in Gainsborough and have long supported research into his work as well as mounting two dedicated exhibitions of his drawings in 2003 and 2014. Lowell is a trustee of Gainsborough’s House and is very involved with its development plans. We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has just awarded Gainsborough’s House £4.73 million towards the cost of the new project. With this money, Gainsborough’s House are well on the way to achieving the £7.5 million total needed to see the transformation of Gainsborough’s House into a leading centre for the study and display of eighteenth-century British art.
14 October 2016
We are just getting ready to head to New York for the new and exciting fair which expands the international reach of the long-established TEFAF Maastricht. It is exciting to be part of this new venture.
20 September 2016
We are getting ready for TEFAF New York and looking forward to exhibiting a fascinating unpublished painting by John Constable. This fluidly painted oil sketch of a donkey was made by Constable at an important, transitional moment in his career. This small painting offers important evidence of the work Constable was making en plein air in East Bergholt in 1816. It is likely that the painting remained with the Constable family until the late nineteenth century.
30 August 2016
This week marks the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London; there are lots of events taking place to commemorate the disaster including a major exhibition at the Museum of London. Numerous images of the fire exist, but none are strictly contemporary or first-hand and many of the most famous are much later evocations. We have a fascinating painting, made in the late seventeenth century which is a particularly unusual view of the conflagration and seems to show a very precise moment in the progress of the fire. The impressive painting shows a view of Cripplegate in the north of the City, with St Giles without Cripplegate in flames to the left; a view of roughly the site of the present day Barbican. The painting probably represents the fire on the night of Tuesday 4 September, when four-fifths of the City was burning at once, including St Paul's Cathedral. Old St Paul’s can be seen to the right of the canvas, the medieval church with its thick stone walls, was considered a place of safety, but the building was covered in wooden scaffolding as it was in the midst of being restored by the then little known architect, Christopher Wren and caught fire. Our painting depicts a specific moment on the Tuesday night when the lead on St Paul’s caught fire and, as the diarist John Evelyn described:
15 July 2016
George Stubbs has been much on our mind recently. Lowell and Jonny travelled to New Haven in May for the re-opening of the Yale Center for British Art. The building has been intelligently and sensitively restored, with several of Louis Khan’s original ideas being reinstated, most impressively the study gallery. The real joy is the re-installation, entitled ‘Britain in the World’, this highly intelligent, thought provoking and beautiful hang shows the breadth and depth of the YCBA’s extensive holdings. Arranged chronologically and thematically, the new hang wraps around the fourth and second floors, leading the visitor through the history of British art. But rather than an isolated, narrow view, as the title of the rehang suggests, the display constantly gives British art a global context. There are some marvellous moments: a constellation of plein air studies places Constable in the company of his contemporary Richard Parkes Bonnington, friend William Mulready, and Edwin Landseer; a pair of mythological paintings by James Ward flank a Haydon and look on at a sculpture by Gibson, giving a rounded look at the second generation of neo-classical painters and Palmer hangs next to his father-in-law, John Linnell. But perhaps the greatest success is the juxtaposition of works by George Stubbs and Joseph Wright of Derby, whose paintings fill one of Khan’s bays. These two titans of mid-eighteenth century Britain who seem to encapsulate the contemporary concerns of science, industry and art and whose paintings bridge the ideas of neo-classicism, romanticism and the sublime, work well together.
We are getting ready for Masterpiece London, which opens with the preview next Wednesday. One of our highlights is an important portrait by Thomas Gainsborough. The portrait depicts Admiral Thomas Graves, who, in the wake of the British surrender at Yorktown, was accused of having lost the American Revolutionary War. Graves commanded the British fleet at the Battle of Chesapeake, when a French force, under Admiral de Grasse, was allowed to establish a strong position in the capes off the Virginia coast, effectively preventing the relief of Lord Cornwallis then besieged at Yorktown. Following Cornwallis’s surrender to General George Washington the land war in America was over. Graves was criticised by his subordinates, including the second-in-command Samuel Hood, for missed opportunities and the incompetent way he handled the battle. Graves, by losing the Battle of Chesapeake, effectively lost Britain America.
24 May 2016
For Masterpiece London 2016 we have brought together a representative group of works by Rowlandson. The group includes drawings from across his career and works covering a multitude of diverse subjects, from savage satires and popular cartoons, to landscape drawings and furniture design.
28 April 2016
One of the most prosaic views Towne made in Italy simply shows a view of the scrubby, barren Campagna with a large, non-descript villa complex in the middle distance and the hills beyond. The composition does not contain any famous monument from antiquity, or landmark of modern Rome, but it was clearly significant enough for Towne to include in his bequest to the British Museum. The drawing is labelled ‘Vigna Martinelli’ and it is with this kernel of information that we can build a hugely important story about artistic sociability and the associational values of certain sites for British artists in Rome during the eighteenth century.
12 April 2016
One of the great things about the Francis Towne exhibition is thinking about why and where he was drawing. Towne arrived in Rome in the autumn of 1780 and shortly afterwards began to explore the city and the surrounding Campagna. Early drawings depict the Colosseum and the barren landscape to the north of the city along the Tiber. The latter views are fascinating in trying to understand the motivation for recording certain views at this date.
24 March 2016
We are just back from TEFAF and catching up with things in London. Whilst we were in New York in January a very remarkable exhibition opened at the British Museum: ‘Light, time, legacy: Francis Towne’s watercolours of Rome’ which we have supported. The show, expertly curated by Richard Stephens, is the first opportunity to see, in their entirety, the group of eighty watercolours of Rome and its environs given to the BM by Towne in 1816. The watercolours are some of the most beguiling and beautiful works produced by an eighteenth-century British painter.