Li Huayi
Round Landscape

Next week in New York we open a new exhibition mounted in collaboration with Marcus Flacks exploring the relationship between Contemporary Chinese ink painting and British art of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The ‘parallels’ of the title, may at first sight seem limited. But this is a project we have been discussing over several years. Marcus has been commissioning work from leading Chinese artists – such as Liu Dan, Li Huayi and Zeng Xiaojun – aware of their conceptual and aesthetic similarities to British landscape painters of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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Jean Étienne Liotard
Francis Owen
Oil on canvas, unlined
50 x 40 inches; 1270 x 1016 mm
Signed and dated ‘J.E. LIOTARD/1773’, on plinth, centre right
In the original neoclassical frame

We are delighted to be back for the second year at TEFAF New York Fall. Our stand this year will be showcasing the recent acquisitions published in our latest catalogue. The catalogue – and exhibition – cover over a century of British art and includes paintings, drawings, pastels and several spectacular pieces of sculpture in terracotta.

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New catalogue online

5 October 2017

We are excited to publish a new stock catalogue full of some interesting recent acquisitions. The catalogue coincides with our next exhibition at TEFAF New York Fall which opens in the Park Avenue Armory at the end of the month. We are going to be taking some beautiful and rare works. A particular highlight will be the recently rediscovered version of Johan Zoffany’s great masterpiece, Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match. As Martin Postle explains in our catalogue, the sketch was recorded being painted in London in 1791 in preparation for Richard Earlom’s mezzotint published the following year. Painted with dazzling virtuosity and remarkable fidelity to the full-sized painting, now in the Tate, this major painting is published for the first time. 

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Looking ahead:

6 September 2017

Johann Valentin Sonnenschein                                    
Venus and Cupid
14 ½ x 11 ¾ inches; 365 x 300mm
Signed and dated ‘V. SONENSCHEIN, 1780’, lower left
In the original, giltwood frame

We have a busy schedule ahead: September sees the completion of a catalogue of recent acquisitions which will be published later this month; in October we are excited to be exhibiting at the second edition of TEFAF New York. During November and December we will be mounting an exhibition in New York and then back in London in collaboration with Marcus Flacks entitled Parallel Lines, the idea is to bring together British landscape drawings and contemporary Chinese works.

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John Hamilton Mortimer
A study of a friar and a lass
Pen and grey ink
5 ¾ x 5 ⅛ inches; 145 x 130 mm

We are getting ready for London Art Week, the gallery has been re-painted and we have an exciting group of new acquisitions on show. Amongst highlights by major British painters, we have also brought together a modest group of drawings by British neo-classical artists, including a number of sketches by John Flaxman from the collection of Edward Croft-Murray. Jonny will be leading a session looking at neo-classical drawings as part of a series of Slow Art Workshops organised by London Art Week on Sunday 2nd July at 3pm in Clifford Street.

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Constable by the sea

12 April 2017

John Constable 
Brighton Beach, with Colliers
Oil on paper
5 ⅞ x 9 ¾ inches; 149  x 248 mm
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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.

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The Miracle
Acrylic on aluminium
100 x 42 ⅛ inches; 2540 x 1070 mm
Painted 1950

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

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Drawing A
Black, white and red chalk on buff paper
14 x 11 inches; 355 x 280mm
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven. 

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.

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Happy New Year!

16 January 2017

John Hamilton Mortimer
Oil on canvas
30 x 25 ⅛ inches; 762 x 638 mm
recto: after Sir Joshua Reynolds, a self-portrait
Painted c. 1758

We are looking forward to a very active 2017 and we will be exhibiting at TEFAF Maastricht in March, London Art Week in July and TEFAF New York Fall in October.

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Thomas Gainsborough
Figures resting in a woodland landscape
Pen and brown ink and brown wash on wove paper
9 ⅛ x 11 ½ inches; 232 x 291 mm
Signed lower right: T: 'Gainsborough pinx: 1784, also inscribed: The Gift of the ingenious artist to Miss Thicknesse'

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. 

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TEFAF New York Fall, 2016

14 October 2016

William Hoare of Bath
William Folkes of Hillington Hall, Norfolk
24 × 18 inches; 610 × 458 mm
Drawn in c.1740
In the original architrave frame probably from the workshop of Isaac Gosset.

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.

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A Constable discovery

20 September 2016

John Constable
A Donkey
9 ¾ x 12 inches; 248 x 305 mm
Dated Feby:27 1816 (lower left)

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.

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English School
The Great Fire of London
Oil on canvas
34 ¼ x 49 inches; 870 x 1245 mm

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: 

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Stubbs and the Wild

15 July 2016

George Stubbs
Marmaduke Tunstall’s Lemur 
British Museum, London

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.  

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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.

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