£80,000 Old Master at Toovey’s

Pierre Subleyras’ 18th century oil on canvas, Half Length Study of Saint Jerome, measuring 64.5cm x 47cm, sold for £80,000 at Toovey’s

An early 18th century Old Master oil study of St Jerome by the French artist Pierre Subleyras (1699-1749) has just sold at Toovey’s for £80,000.

The painting had been known to Toovey’s head of fine art, Nicholas Toovey, for many years before it was recently consigned for sale. Quality and provenance with Old Master paintings is always important and this painting was purchased by the family from the prestigious Hazlitt Gallery in London in the 1960s.

Pierre Subleyras was born in Saint Gilles du Gard in Provence. He moved permanently to Rome in 1728 having won the Prix de Rome in 1727 painting a variety of subjects including still lifes and portraits. However, it is his religious paintings which are most highly regarded. They are notably more serious in tone than many French works of the Rococo period.

He attracted the attention of many prominent patrons painting a portrait of Pope Benedict XIV. The Pope would commission Subleyras to paint both ‘The Marriage of St Catherine’ and the ‘Ecstasy of St Camilla’ for his private apartments.

Subleyras’ talent as an incisive portraitist is brilliantly employed in this study of St Jerome which is heavily influenced by the solemnity of 17th century Italian Baroque. The study contrasts with the early 18th century French taste for the playful Rococo which developed in reaction to the Baroque which preceded it.

Subleyras’ study is beautifully considered showing St Jerome’s concern and wonder as he is blessed with a vision from God. It is a subject the artist would return to on several occasions. The paint is applied in a series of thin washes using oil glazes which lends the work a remarkable depth and life particularly to the face and skin.

Cardinal Valenti Gongoza arranged the commissioning of the ‘Mass of St Basil’ for St Peter’s in Rome. This huge painting was highly acclaimed when it was unveiled in 1748. It can still be seen at St Maria degli Angeli in Rome. But Subleyras was too exhausted by overwork to enjoy the success of his most famous work. He moved to Naples seeking respite but returned to Rome and died soon after on 28th May 1749.

Today Pierre Subleyras’ work is represented in many of the world’s international collections including the National Gallery, London and the Louvre, Paris.

Entries are already being received by Toovey’s for their next curated sale of fine art which will be held on Wednesday 28th November 2018. Nicholas Toovey is always keen to share his passion for art with collectors. If you would like his advice Nicholas can be contacted by telephoning 01903 891955 or at auctions@tooveys.com.

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.

Country Show a Great Family Day Out

This week I am in the company of Rowan Allan who is putting the finishing touches to the 2018 West Grinstead and District Ploughing Match which this year is being held at Priors Byne Farm, Partridge Green on Saturday 15th September.

The West Grinstead and District Agricultural Society Ploughing Match Hon. Secretary, Rowan Allan

Rowan Allan, the societies long serving Hon. Secretary, says “Priors Farm is always a popular venue. John and Alison Ford always give everyone a warm welcome – it’s our third time here and the agricultural community is looking forward to coming together once again.”

John Ford’s farm is mixed arable with a herd of Sussex cattle.

This year the farming community have been facing the challenges of the freezing, wet spring and the long hot, dry summer, against the backdrop of a government exploring changes of emphasis in the nation’s support of our vital farming industry with the uncertainty that has brought.

An increasingly urban society can sometimes seem out of touch with farming’s important role in stewarding the land, practising good husbandry and sustainable food production with a deep understanding and respect for the environment and the natural world. My experience of the farming community is that they are passionate about their responsibilities and rightly proud of their stewardship.

Rowan comments “Balancing one’s heritage and nature with the needs of food production is perfectly possible.”

The West Grinstead and District Ploughing Match and Agricultural Society has been holding shows for over 140 years. It seeks to re-connect town and country and educate the public.

Rowan says “The ploughing match provides a shop window for people to engage with what farming and the countryside are really about.”

The society’s bursary programme continues to provide financial support to enable and encourage young people to take up careers in the agricultural industry.

One of the current beneficiaries of a bursary is Kobe Hedgehock. He is rising 15 and is continuing his academic schooling whilst studying at Plumpton College as well.

Rowan explains “Kobe wrote to us and his Headmaster to take a day out to attend the course – it’s helped him focus on his school work as well as beginning a path in agriculture. We’re delighted that the bursary and our support made it possible.”

Creating vocational opportunities like this through education is remarkable and hope filled.

Rowan tells me that alongside the twelve classes of ploughing, ranging from Novice to Open, the ever popular Horse Ploughing and Vintage steam will be very much in evidence. This year entrants ranging in age from 14 into their 80s will be competing.

The ever popular lamb handling session

Alongside the Livestock Show there will be a parade of Hounds, Terrier racing, a Clay Pigeon Shoot, Field and Produce competitions and the marvellous Harris Fun Fair with their classic rides – the lamb handling sessions are always a favourite with youngsters – fun for all the family!

I will be supporting Rowan and this year’s Chairman, Mark Streeter, at Priors Barn Farm, Partridge Green, RH13 8EQ on Saturday 15th September for the 2018 West Grinstead and District Agricultural Society Ploughing Match and Show. Entrance is just £6 per person with children under 14 free – it’s going to be a fantastic family day – I hope to see you there!

For more information contact Rowan Allan at H. J. Burt through www.hjburt.co.uk or go to www.westgrinsteadploughing.co.uk.

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.