The Artist and Conservationist David Shepherd

David Shepherd’s Siberian Tiger painted in 2000

The Sussex based international artist David Shepherd, CBE, FRSA, FGRA (1931-2017) is still celebrated for his painting and work as an outspoken conservationist. One of the most popular and gifted realist artists of his generation he was famous for his paintings of wildlife and steam locomotives.

David travelled to Kenya in 1949 where he encountering Africa and its wildlife. After failing to become a game warden he returned to London intent on becoming an artist only to be rejected by the Slade. The artist Robert Goodwin took the young David Shepherd under his wing and taught him to paint.

I met David at numerous charitable events across the county over the years and we discovered that we were both Fellows of the Royal Society of Arts and shared a passion for nature and steam locomotives. Despite owning several steam locomotives David was always very encouraging of my daughter and I’s humble model railway which has lift-off landscape so it can be neatly stored. And this was the measure of a man who took great interest in others and the world he lived in. Outward facing and passionate he stood in defence of the natural world and particularly the African and Asian wildlife he captured so beautifully in his paintings.

Tigers feature prominently in his art. The Siberian Tiger painted by David on a small canvas in 2000 captures the nobility of this critically endangered species which is only found in Northeast China and the Russian Far East. The play of light on the undergrowth and fur accentuates the life and movement in the scene. There is an intensity to the tiger’s piercing gaze, alert to the world it inhabits. It sold at Toovey’s for £10,000.

A detail of David Shepherd’s Rhinos in Namibia painted in 1999

Namibia, like so many African countries, is constantly engaged in the defence of its black rhinos against illegal poaching. The country is home to more than a third of Africa’s black rhinos. David Shepherd captures the rare sight of two black rhinos together on the African savannah in his small oil Rhinos in Namibia. The rhinos appear to be moving towards us through the sun-baked sparsely wooded grassland. The heat, light and movement is once again stunningly captured. The painting also sold at Toovey’s for £9000.

David’s love of these wild animals is apparent not only in his painting but also in the work of the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation which he founded in 1984 to champion endangered wildlife and their habitats across Africa and Asia.

The Impressionists’ Colour Light and Intimacy on show at The Royal Academy Of Arts

Edgar Degas, Dancers on a Bench (detail), circa 1898, pastel on tracing paper © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection

Colour, light and intimacy define the collection of works on paper by leading Impressionist are on show at the Royal Academy of Arts in London until the 10th March 2024.

This exhibition, Impressionists on Paper: Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec, illustrates how Impressionism and Post Impressionism transformed the art of late 19th century France and for the first time gave works on paper, sketches, a status of their own.

The Impressionists were at first derided for their sketchy impressions of scenes but their approach would transform the art world by capturing the colour, movement and life in a landscape or scene. Rather than making sketches and working up a finished canvas in the studio they painted en plein air, outside in the open air. They worked quickly capturing momentary, fleeting effects of sunlight moving over a scene. This resulted in a heightened awareness of light and colour expressed in rapid, broken brushwork, the dabs of paint giving spontaneity and movement to their subjects.

In addition to their radical technique, the bright colours of Impressionist canvases shocked eyes accustomed to the more sober colours of academic painting. The paints themselves were more vivid too. New synthetic pigments provided artists’ with vibrant shades of blue, green, and yellow. This use of colour is also apparent in their works on paper and can be seen in Vincent van Gogh’s graphite, black chalk, watercolour and gouache on paper The Fortifications of Paris from 1887.

Vincent van Gogh, The Fortifications of Paris with Houses, 1887, on paper © The Whitworth, The University of Manchester/Michael Pollard

Edward Degas’ subjects include his famous studies of ballet dancers, figures from the world of theatre and ballet in Paris. He worked in oil, pastel and produced bronze sculptures. Degas was inspired not only by the glamour of the stage but also the domestic aspects of this life which he depicted with intimacy and sensitivity.

The pastel drawing Dancers on a Bench captures a seated young woman exhausted after her performance. Her full-skirted tutu spreads out behind her framing the dancer in this unguarded scene. The palette, too, is arresting and radical with green hues discernible in the dancers’ complexions.

This exhibition offers an insight into the innovations made by Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists in their drawings which are no less radical than their paintings.

Impressionists on Paper: Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec runs at the Royal Academy of Arts in London until 10th March 2024.

Important Post War Ceramics Speak of Hope and Renewal

Picasso Madoura editions ceramics ‘Bunch with Apple’, ‘Two Dancers’and ‘Bull and Picador’

Alongside the tragedy of war the 20th century witnessed a flowering of the arts. Painters, sculptors, writers, musicians and composers in the Post-War period sought to give voice to all that it is to be human and to hope.

The Austrian born Jewish potter Dame Lucie Rie was arguably the most influential ceramicist of the Post–War period with an international reputation. In 1938 Lucie Rie left Nazi Austria and made London her home. Her ideas and work were rooted in the Modern Movement and she quickly arrived at the simple thrown cylindrical forms which would define her pots and bowls. Rie experimented with ‘volcanic’ glazes which she would use to beautiful effect on her post-war stoneware.

Rie worked closely with the remarkable Hans Coper in London. His father was Jewish and Coper had to flee Nazi Germany in 1939. His abstract, sculptural stoneware forms are also celebrated. His rare early vase with its yellow and manganese flowing glazes is beautifully conceived.

Vases by Lucie Rie and Hans Coper

Amongst the towering giants of the 20th century was Pablo Picasso. After living under the Nazis in his Paris studio he journeyed south to Provence. Provence, as much an idea as a place, has gathered diverse peoples to her over millennia. Each have added to her richness and, in their turn, have been shaped by this remarkable land.

In the summer of 1946, Pablo Picasso decided to visit the annual potter’s exhibition in the provincial village of Vallauris. There he met Suzanne and Georges Ramié, the founders of the Madoura ceramic workshop, who were keen to persuade him to come to Vallauris.

Picasso returned in July 1947 bringing his extraordinary imagination and creative energy to the medium of ceramics. He was first attracted by the large, almost rectangular dishes in the workshop. Here Picasso took the everyday and transformed it in to high art, painting and incising with an extraordinary richness of expression. Favourite themes included figures, bullfights and still lifes as depicted on the pitcher and plates. In each you see the free, graphic rhythm and unorthodox method which typifies Picasso’s ceramics. These pieces are Picasso Madoura limited editions authenticated by a stamp to the base. Picasso lived at Vallauris before moving to Cannes.

These important pieces have been entered for sale in Toovey’s specialist studio pottery auction on Thursday 29th February from a Sussex private collection. Pre-sale estimates range between £1000 and £4000. They reflect the desire amongst artists to give voice to hope and renewal in the Post-War period.

2024 Shipley Arts Festival Launched At Toovey’s

Rupert Toovey, Andrew Bernardi, and Grace Shearing

Friends, sponsors and supporters gathered at Toovey’s Washington salerooms for the launch of the 2024 Shipley Arts Festival.

The festival celebrates the local, national and international qualities of our nation gathering a community of many of this country’s leading musicians whilst providing pathways to emerging talent.

The evening included Csárdás written by the Italian composer Vittorio Monti in 1904. The piece draws on the Hungarian folk tradition. It begins slowly rising to an ecstatic crescendo and was played by the extraordinarily talented young violinist Grace Shearing accompanied by pianist Christina Maude. Grace is now the lead violinist at Lancing College having begun her musical journey with Andrew Bernardi’s String Academy when she was 8 years old. The String Academy seeks to provide opportunity through music to young people regardless of their background.

It is these qualities which attracted the attention of Chris and Elaine Goodman who, through their Focus Foundation, seek to support young people, often from families with disadvantaged backgrounds across Sussex and the UK. This year Andrew Bernardi is partnering with Lancing College who are hosting the event, The Yehudi Menuhin School and the Focus Foundation bringing together 400 performers from 10 of our local schools and an adult choir to perform Chris Hussey’s new opera Beware the Mackerel Sky. I am really looking forward to hearing the opera at Lancing College after the captivating extract at Sunday’s launch. Chris Hussey’s piece follows in the tradition set by Benjamin Britten and Andrew Lloyd Webber at Lancing College.

Andrew Bernardi performed Méditation from Thais, the opera by Jules Massenet and with the internationally renowned Italian conductor and pianist Andrea Ferrari. The extraordinary range of the Amici Bernardi Stradivarius violin came alive as Andrew played this sonorous, moving and redemptive piece.

Kreston Reeves’ Daniel Grainge and Andrew Bernardi with musicians from his Youth String Academy at Toovey’s

Concluding the evening Andrew Bernardi said “What we have in common with our sponsors friends and patrons are our shared values. A belief in our communities and young people, and that there is a place for excellence.”

As the longest standing sponsor of the Shipley Arts Festival I am delighted that Toovey’s and myself remain at the heart of this remarkable celebration of music and community. Together with our fellow sponsors Kreston Reeves, Nyetimber, and NFU Mutual at Horsham, Henfield and Chichester, we wish Andrew Bernardi and his Shipley Arts Festival every success with the 2024 season of concerts.

For more information on the forthcoming Shipley Arts Festival and to book your tickets visit the box office at

The Royal Chester and The Art of Model Engineering

The Allchin traction engine ‘Royal Chester’

The Royal Chester was the last traction engine made by Allchin of Northampton in 1925 and has been an inspiration to model engineers.

Allchin was founded in 1847 by William Allchin at the Globe Works in Northampton. The firm built its first steam engine in 1872. In 1900 the firm became William Allchin & Sons Ltd. The high quality of its manufacturing was greatly admired.

The Royal Chester was a 7hp general purpose agricultural traction engine. Her makers had intended to show her at the Royal Show at Chester in 1925 but sent a steam wagon instead. Nevertheless, the Royal Chester name has been associated with her ever since. W. J. Hughes first came across her in 1948 whilst out cycling looking for engines. She was in the yard of J.G. & B. Earnshaw, a firm of threshing contractors in east Derbyshire. The Earnshaw brothers allowed him to return often to measure the engine. Hughes would prepare a full set of blueprint drawings of all the component parts necessary to build a 1 1/2 inch scale model. Hughes was also responsible for persuading Chris Lambert, a pioneer preservationist, to buy her saving her from the fate of being cut up for scrap. Chris Lambert would restore her.

A live-steam 1 1/2 inch scale model of the Allchin traction engine ‘Royal Chester’

My whole life I have adored steam locomotives and traction engines: the drama of their scale, the smell and whoosh of steam and the characters of the different engines. All of these qualities are distilled in the scale model replicas.

The Royal Chester is one of the most famous Allchin engines and has been the standard upon which many model replicas have been based, like the example illustrated which sold in a specialist auction at Toovey’s for £1000.

Model engineers seek to construct fine scaled miniature working models of full sized machines. Castings are often purchased, finished and assembled by a model engineer with great attention to detail and accuracy based on drawings like those of W.J. Hughes. Model engineers often make live steam examples of locomotives, traction engines, stationary engines and marine engines.

Toovey’s toy and model specialist Chris Gale already has a number of live steam models entered for his next specialist sale on Wednesday 20th March 2023 and is inviting further entries.

Steam engines have such life and whether full-size or scale replicas they are engineered to the most remarkable tolerances and are highly valued.