Toy Fundraiser at Horsham Museum

Toovey’s toy valuation event in support of the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery has become an extremely popular annual fundraising event. Toovey’s specialist toys valuer, Christopher Gale, will be at the museum on Saturday, 16th February 2018, between 10am and 12noon providing free auction valuations and advice on your toy trains, cars, Star Wars action figures, models, teddy bears, dolls and collectors’ toys.

A number of valuable toys have been discovered at previous events. Chris Gale who is donating his time explains: “A third of the seller’s commission for items subsequently auctioned by Toovey’s will be donated by us to Horsham Museum to help with its important work.”

For a morning of fun and free pre-sale valuations come to the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, The Causeway, Horsham, RH12 1HE on Saturday 16th February, 10am to 12 noon. Toovey’s next specialist toy sale will be held on 19th March 2018.

The Genius of Rembrandt Captured in Print

Rembrandt van Rijn – Christ at Emmaus: The Larger Plate, etching with drypoint on laid paper, circa 1654, posthumous fourth state

This year marks the 350th anniversary of the death of the Dutch master, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669).

An artist of towering reputation, by the 1630s Rembrandt had become a highly respected artist. His fame and reputation as a painter ensured that his prints were seen as originals and not mere reproductions. In the 1630s and 1640s Rembrandt’s Amsterdam studio was very important attracting the attention and influencing a generation of artists.

Rembrandt achieved fame and success as a young man but would narrowly avoid bankruptcy in 1656 by an arrangement with the court to sell his house and its contents. The inventory of the sale still survives and provides an important insight into his collection and its influences on his work. It records that he owned Italian pictures, engravings after Raphael and other Italian masters, and a book said to have been illustrated by Mantegna.

Take for example Rembrandt van Rijn’s wonderful study of the story of the Supper at Emmaus from St Luke’s Gospel illustrated here. He exploits the creative process of printing to great effect. Drawing on the influence of the Italian artist Caravaggio Rembrandt employs the effects of chiaroscuro – strongly contrasted light and shadow affecting not only the composition but also the sense of volume.

It is a good inky impression. This is the fourth posthumous state indicating that it was pulled from the plate which Rembrandt himself had engraved in 1654 either at the end of his life or within a few years of his death. The composition and use of light is remarkable focusing our attention on the risen Jesus Christ as he reveals who he is to the two disciples who have unknowingly accompanied him on the road to Emmaus. As he breaks bread the story is united with the Last Supper and his Passion. Jesus’ expression as he looks on his follower is filled with empathy and tenderness. And in the shadows there is that marvellous dog.

Contemporary collectors of his prints afforded Rembrandt a freedom of expression which was sometimes lacking amongst the patrons of his paintings.

Etching allowed him to explore his deepening feelings for humanity which is ariculated with a freedom, insight and intimacy beyond the formal conventional portraiture of his time.

Rembrandt van Rijn – Studies of the Head of Saskia and others, etching on laid paper, circa 1636, with part of a Strasbourg Lily watermark

A good example of this is the etching, Studies of the Head of Saskia and others, from 1636. The love and tenderness with which he depicts her is readily apparent. Saskia, nee van Ulyenburgh, was the love of his life. Rembrandt’s art dealer, Hendrick van Uylenburgh, was Saskia’s cousin. Rembrandt was living and working with Hendrick and the couple met there in 1633 and were married soon after in 1634. Saskia died giving birth to their son, Titus, in 1642. Rembrandt was devastated.

Today Rembrandt’s works printed during his lifetime fetch thousands of pounds at auction. In contrast, despite his brilliance, Rembrandt died a pauper and was buried in an unmarked grave.

Toovey’s Director and specialist, Nicholas Toovey, is preparing his next curated auction of prints which will be held on 20th February 2019. He is always delighted to share his passion for prints with others and offer advice. He can be contacted on 01903 891955.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Inspired by the Landscape

Rupert Toovey at Petworth Park
Rupert Toovey at Petworth Park

Inspired by the Horsham Museum & Art Galleries latest exhibition of local landscapes I have been trying to walk off my Christmas indulgence, with my terrier Bonnie in the beauty of the Sussex countryside. And what strikes me is how influential and important human stewardship and industry has been to the appearance and beauty of our landscape.

A great favourite of ours is the circular walk at the top of Chantry Hill at the back of Storrington. From the car park you follow the footpath to the west. The views carry your eye across the undulating hills of the Angmering Park Estate to the sea at Worthing and the Isle of Wight. Leaving the main path and heading North the ground steadily rises until the view opens onto the Sussex Weald. A few hundred yards to the east between Kithurst Hill and Chantry Hill you come upon a late Bronze Age / Iron Age cross dyke. The deep ditch and steep embankment still defines its boundary and affords the most wonderful views with Storrington below. As you walk in this man made earthworks you have a real sense of the ancient and your place in the procession of history. It is farming which has created and preserved the Downland landscape which surrounds it.

At Petworth Park the qualities of the picturesque are alive in Capability Brown’s man made landscape, preserved and maintained by The National Trust.

Bonnie delighted to be on the Bronze Age cross dyke on Chantry Hill

Bonnie and I love to walk through the park and around the lake. The house and park are united in the landscape. Here you come upon a series of constructed, vignette views onto sweeping areas of grass, curving lakes and beautifully conceived woodland clumps of trees. It is as though you are walking in a series paintings.

This aesthetic was born out of the rococo in reaction to the formal straight lines and topiary of the French royal gardens designed by André Le Notre (1613-1700), which had been made popular in England in the late 17th and early 18th centuries by George London (d.1714) and Henry Wise (1653-1738). Together they had created the parterres not only at Petworth but also at Hampton Court Palace, Chatsworth and Longleat.

In early 18th century England there was a political desire, held by both the Whig government and Hanoverian King George I, to distance themselves from the excesses of the French Court at Versailles. This combined with a fascination for ‘unbounded nature’. In this climate Capability Brown’s park landscapes evolved in dialogue with his patrons. Perhaps this is why his idealised landscapes speak into the hearts and imaginations of the English and, in part, define us.

Sussex and her landscape continues to inspire successive generations of artists, writers and composers as she has over the centuries. I look forward to exploring the Sussex landscape and the continuing contribution of its contemporary stewards to the identity and heritage of the county.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Celebrating Heritage and Arts in West Sussex in 2018

From left to right: Toovey’s Director, Nicholas Toovey, artist, Humphrey Ocean., RA, and Jeremy Knight in conversation at the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery

As 2018 draws to a close it provides a moment to reflect on what an exceptional year it has been for Heritage and the Arts in West Sussex and to look forward to 2019.

West Sussex is blessed by its rich history, culture and artistic offering which is made possible by the inspiration, dedication and hard work of a number of key individuals.

The Horsham Museum & Art Gallery’s reputation continues to grow under the leadership of Jeremy Knight whose outstanding contribution to heritage and the arts was marked this year with a High Sheriff’s Award. This growing reputation attracted the attention of the Royal Academy in its 250th anniversary year and the artist Humphrey Ocean., RA. The Horsham District Council’s continued commitment to the Horsham Museum and Art Gallery is deserving of praise.

Sheep handling at The 2018 West Grinstead Agricultural and Ploughing Match Show

The West Grinstead Annual Plough Match and agricultural show celebrates the work of our farmers and their important contribution, through their stewardship of the countryside, to our county’s rural landscape. At the heart of the Society which runs it is its Honorary Secretary Rowan Allan of H. J. Burt. He has spent his life celebrating and professionally supporting the work and life of the countryside.

Parham House and its gardens are amongst the most beautiful in all England. Lady Emma Barnard is the house’s current custodian and celebrated 70 years since her family first opened the house in 1948 to share it with the public. This generous tradition continues today.

The high point of this year’s Shipley Arts Festival for me was the world premiere of the Shipley Psalms at Steyning Parish Church. The inspiration for this commission came out of a conversation between myself, Andrew Bernardi and the composer Malcolm Singer. We were discussing the American composer Leonard Bernstein and his choral work, The Chichester Psalms. This new commission was made possible by the generous patronage of The Shipley Arts Festival and Mr John Snelling.

These artistic, cultural and heritage threads preserve and add to the evolving identity of our county and its rich tapestry of life in town and country.

My brother Nicholas and I are delighted that through Toovey’s we have been able to play a part in bridging these artistic and heritage communities together, adding weight to their vision and work, whilst also offering financial support and professional advice.

These individuals along with so many others are deserving of our thanks. They enrich the quality of our lives whilst contributing enormously to our economy through the visitors and businesses they draw to our county.

I am looking forward to celebrating with you the best artistic, cultural and heritage events our county has to offer in 2019, and wish you all a very happy and peaceful New Year.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

A Voyage of Discovery at Horsham Museum

The Maori Poi dancer, Whakarewarewa, published by the New Zealand photographer Thomas Pringle in 1907

Horsham Museum & Art Gallery’s latest exhibition ‘Voyages to the Pacific’ is inspired by the 250th Anniversary of the departure of Captain James Cook’s first voyage to Tahiti in 1768.

The exhibition draws on the museum’s remarkable collection of ethnographic material. The show highlights the interactions and exchanges that have taken place between the peoples of Europe and the Pacific over the last 250 years, including Horsham’s residents whose objects are displayed telling the story.

A collection of Pacific ethnographical objects framed against Horsham’s Causeway

Assistant Curator Rhiannon Jones says “The exhibition shows how the people of Horsham have encountered the people of the South Pacific. These objects were brought back by diplomats, sailors and wealthy people.”

“In the summer of 1768 Captain James Cook set sail from Plymouth for Tahiti hoping to track the transit of Venus. Cook’s techniques in surveying, astronomy and timekeeping were revolutionary, as was his care for his crew and the measures he took to prevent scurvy.”

There was a second charge to Cook to discover the as yet only imagined great southern continent. Cook would sail tantalisingly close, within 75 miles of Antarctica.

Rhiannon explains how this first expedition and Cook’s two subsequent voyages changed European perceptions of world geography leading to trade and colonisation.

The exhibition provides an introduction to the sociocultural anthropology of the peoples of the Pacific through objects and photographs.

My eye is caught by a photograph of the Maori Poi Dancer, Whakarewarewa. It is taken from the book ‘Maori Studies’ published by the New Zealand photographer Thomas Pringle in 1907. The Poi is a traditional Maori dance where weights are swung in rhythmic patterns on the end of tethers.

A rare 19th century Tongan or Samoan Tapa barkcloth panel

On the opposite side of the gallery a series of 19th century Tapa barkcloth panels with striking geometric abstract designs are displayed. These cloths are produced from the inner bark of young shrubs and trees by the process of soaking and beating. They are commonly found across the Pacific and Africa. Barkcloth is still used for clothing, bedding, flooring and ceremonial objects. It is short lived and old examples like this Tongan or Samoan panel are rare.

Rhiannon enthuses about a case filled with ethnographical pieces which include an 18th century pot stand from Papua New Guinea modelled as a head, wooden combs and necklaces, and a small jade totem intended to enhance fertility. I remark that this fascinating array is displayed against the backdrop of Horsham’s famous Causeway which seems to emphasise the town’s connection with the exhibition’s story and objects and she agrees.

Entrance to the Horsham Museum & Art Gallery, The Causeway, Horsham, RH12 1HE, is free with permanent displays and exciting shows. Voyages to the Pacific runs until 26th January 2019. There are plenty of family Christmas activities too. For more information visit www.horshammuseum.org.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.