Thomas Rowlandson
The Coach Booking Office                                  
7 x 11 ½ inches; 178 x 292 mm

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.

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Francis Towne
Vigna Martinelli, 1780
British Museum, London

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.

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Francis Towne
Banks of the Tiber, near Ponte Molle
Grey and brown wash with watercolour and pen and grey ink outlines
8 x 16 inches; 206 x 401 mm

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.

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Francis Towne
A ruin on the road going to Ponte Nomentana in the neighbourhood of Rome
12 ⅝ x 18 ½ inches; 320 x 470 mm

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.

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Jean–Ètienne Liotard
Pastel on paper
25 ¾ x 21 inches; 654 x 533 mm
Signed and inscribed on the original backboard in Liotard’s hand:
‘Milord Comte d’Albermarle [sic] / peint en crayon au pastel 1768 par J.E. Liotard /
on prie de ne point toucher a la peinture / ny aucun coup de Marteau.’

Drawn 1768

A Liotard portrait of a British sitter.

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Vincenzo Pacetti
The Hope Roma
Statuary marble
Height excluding the modern socle: 27 inches; 685mm
Height including the socle: 36 ¾ inches; 935mm

We are getting ready for our annual visit to Maastricht and this year we are delighted to be taking some important recent acquisitions and a major discovery.

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Mariette and Mounts

15 February 2016

John Robert Cozens
London and the Thames from Greenwich (detail)
Watercolour over pencil
14 ½ × 20 ⅝ inches; 367 × 525 mm

We are delighted to be sponsoring a small, fascinating exhibition at the Morgan Library in New York: Pierre-Jean Mariette and the Art of Collecting Drawings. The focused show examines the collecting career of Mariette and his distinctive methods of presenting the drawings he owned. Mariette amassed over nine thousand sheets during his lifetime which he displayed principally in characteristic blue mounts. Despite his importance as a collector and connoisseur, he has never before been the subject of an exhibition in the United States.

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We will be showing recent discoveries and acquisitions in our annual New York exhibition from Friday 22 January until 30 January.

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Artist and Empire at the Tate

9 December 2015

We are delighted to have supported the catalogue of the Tate’s current exhibition: Artist and Empire: Facing Britain’s Imperial Past. The show offers an important opportunity to assess the ways in which artists from the sixteenth century to the present day responded to Britain’s imperial legacy. The catalogue, edited by Alison Smith, David Blayney Brown and Carol Jacobi, offers fresh interpretations of familiar images and brings together an intriguing and provocative range of material. We are delighted to have been able to support the publication of this ground-breaking catalogue. 

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We are just putting the final touches to our 2016 catalogue and getting ready for our annual exhibition of recent acquisitions in New York. It was great to see our important study by George Stubbs of The Legs of a Draughthorse featured in The Financial Times on Saturday. This finely executed study is an exceptionally rare autograph drawing by George Stubbs and appears to be the only animal drawing by him to have been on the market since 1947. As Judy Egerton noted in her Catalogue Raisonné in 2007: ‘The greatest gap in our knowledge of Stubbs’s working methods lies in the unaccountable disappearance of almost all of his drawings.’ There is a large body of evidence to suggest that Stubbs made drawings throughout his career and a number of discreet groups of studies survive relating to his anatomical projects. Indeed Basil Taylor calculated that no fewer than ‘575 drawings on separate sheets or in sketchbooks’ were sold in Stubbs’s studio sale in 1807. This is the first drawing from the 1807 sale to be identified; as such it is not only important evidence of the kind of graphic material that is currently missing from Stubbs’s oeuvre but a beautiful sheet demonstrating the full power of Stubbs as a draughtsman.

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Liotard in London part II

28 October 2015

Jean-Etienne Liotard
Lady Fawkener
Pastel on vellum
29 x 23 inches; 736 x 588 mm
c. 1760

Monographic exhibitions are always thrilling, giving an opportunity to view a critical mass of works by a single artist and offering the possibility to iron out questions of style, chronology and attribution. We are delighted to be sponsoring the Royal Academy’s Liotard exhibition, which is an important case in point. The show includes 74 works from across the artist’s career, with a significant concentration of pastels from the artists two London periods (1753-54 and 1773). Many of the most scintillating pastels are from private collections and have little or no exhibition history and are a treat to see. This kind of exhibition rewards repeated viewing and rumination and we look forward to living with Liotard over the next few months. 

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Liotard in London

30 September 2015

Jean-Etienne Liotard 
Henry Fox, 1st Lord Holland 
23 ⅝ x 17 ½ inches; 600 x 445 mm

We are delighted to be one of the sponsors of the Royal Academy’s latest exhibition: ‘Jean-Etienne Liotard 1702-1789’ which opens on the 24th October. Liotard was born in Geneva but travelled widely; he trained in Paris, visited: Italy, Constantinople, Jassy (in present day Romania), Vienna, London and the Netherlands. This peripatetic life in part reflected the conventional demands of a court painter and in part a result of his relationship with wealthy British travellers. He met William Ponsonby, Viscount Duncannon in (later 2nd Earl of Bessborough) in Italy and travels with him, and John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich to the Levant. Liotard spent two periods in London; firstly in 1753-4 when he established a profitable and successful portrait practice and secondly in 1773 when he exhibited at the Royal Academy and organised a sale of his collection at Christie’s. Liotard’s British connections were important and professionally sustaining. His relationship with the 2nd Earl of Bessborough continued throughout his life and the exhibition contains a number of works from the Bessborough collection including the charming portrait of Frederick Ponsonby, which Liotard showed at the Royal Academy in 1773.

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James Nasmyth for Edinburgh

9 September 2015

James Nasmyth
Lunar Landscape
Chalk and watercolour on lilac paper


We recently donated a series of sketchbooks by James Nasmyth to the Scottish National Gallery. The material offers a fascinating insight into the life and work of the Scottish artist and engineer James Nasmyth. Nasmyth was the son of the Edinburgh landscape and portrait painter Alexander Nasmyth.  He was taught to draw by his father and rapidly gained great proficiency.  From an early age he had a strong interest in engineering and at the age of seventeen constructed a steam engine to grind the colours for his father.  In 1821 Nasmyth became a student at the Edinburgh School of Arts and financed himself by making illustrations for the lectures at the Edinburgh Mechanics Institute.  Having completed his studies he moved to London in 1829 to work for the innovative engineer Henry Maudslay and in 1834, moved to Manchester to set up his own engineering business making steam engines and machine tools.  This firm was later to become the famous Bridgewater Foundry.  Nasmyth’s most important invention was the Steam Hammer, which was first developed in 1839 to help make intricate parts for Brunel’s Great Britain.

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Adam Buck
The nine youngest children of Richard Bagot, Bishop of Bath and Wells
Watercolour on card
16 ¾ × 19 ½ inches · 425 × 495 mm

We are pleased to be sponsoring a new show opening at the Ashmolean Museum highlighting the work of the Irish artist Adam Buck (1759-1833). Whilst Buck may not be a household name, he was an imaginative and unusual painter, whose greatest works deserve to be better known. We recently sold a spectacular portrait of The nine youngest children of Richard Bagot, Bishop of Bath and Wells to the Morgan Library and Museum in New York. The drawing, which was executed by Buck towards the end of his career in 1825, is one of his masterpieces displaying a refined neo-classicism which places him amongst European practitioners such as Christian Købke and François-Xavier Fabre.  

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London Art Week

3 July 2015

George Romney
Study for ‘The Leveson – Gower Children’
Pen and brown ink and brown wash
9 ⅜ × 9 ½ inches · 238 × 241 mm

London Art Week begins today and runs until next Friday (10th July); we have an exhibition of British paintings and drawings. If you are passing Clifford Street in the next week – particularly this weekend – do come up and see our show. 

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