75 Years of Welcoming the Public to Parham

The famous Long Gallery at Parham, its ceiling decoration by Oliver Messel

I am always delighted to return to Parham House which re-opens on Easter Sunday celebrating 75 years of welcoming the public.

For me, Parham is one of the most beautiful houses in all England. I admire this special and hopeful place and its current custodian, Lady Emma Barnard, who, with her husband James, has made this a family home and continues to steward it for us all.

Everyone has been busy preparing for the Easter opening. “I love it when the visitor season and first opening approaches,” Lady Emma declares. “It’s always exciting as the house’s treasures emerge from their winter covers – but there’s always so much to do.” This delight in sharing the joys of Parham is something Lady Emma has in common with her great-grandparents, Clive and Alicia Pearson. They opened Parham to the public in 1948, not out of need but out of a genuine desire to share their home with others, a tradition which was continued by Emma’s great-aunt, Veronica Tritton.

Lady Emma Barnard at home at Parham

The pre and post-war years witnessed a renaissance in mural and wall painting with many of Britain’s leading modern artists including Stanley Spencer, Eric Ravilious, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant contributing to this movement. Oliver Messel’s ceiling at Parham is an eloquent example of the genre. The famous Long Gallery’s wonderful ceiling was put in by the Pearsons in the 1960s. There were no historical records of the original Elizabethan ceiling so they commissioned the theatrical set and costume designer, Oliver Messel, to decorate it. The painted design depicts an array of birds, wildlife and foliage inspired by the English countryside.

This optimistic place provides a window onto our past and our future, an historical narrative from the Elizabethan Age to today. It speaks to us of our own place in the extraordinary procession of human history. Whether you are visiting for the first time or returning, Parham never fails to captivate and delight anew.

The covers are off! Parham House and Gardens open on Easter Sunday 9th April 2023 at 2pm and 12pm respectively, closing at 5pm. For more information go to www.parhaminsussex.co.uk.

It has been a joy to revisit Parham where my column began 10 years ago. My thanks goes to all those who steward and share the unique cultural gems our county has to offer, and to our readers who continue to express delight and are always so encouraging.

Historical Portraits Sold at Toovey’s

Henri-Pierre Danloux – Louis Antoine de Bourbon, duc d’Angoulême (1775-1844) and Charles Ferdinand d’Artois, duc’ d’Berrie (1778-1820), Sons of Charles X, King of France, a pair of oval oils on canvas laid onto panel, one signed and dated 1797, each 24cm x 18.5cm

A pair of remarkable portraits have just sold at Toovey’s for £15,000.

The portraits are by Henri-Pierre Danloux (1753-1809) who in 1792 moved to London escaping the French Revolution.

They depict Louis Antoine de Bourbon, duc d’Angoulême (1775-1844) and Charles Ferdinand d’Artois, duc’ d’Berrie (1778-1820), the sons of Charles X, King of France and provide a window into history. Charles and his eldest son, Louis Antoine would both eventually be forced to abdicate in favour of Louis Phillipe de Orléans.

Louis Antoine accompanied and advised his uncle, Louis XVIII. He was twice forced into exile in Britain, and twice he fought in the Napoleonic wars, the second time with Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo.

Danloux was influenced by fashionable English portrait painters like Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830), John Hoppner (1758-1810) and George Romney (1734-1802). He exhibited at the Royal Academy in London which brought commissions from a number of British patrons.

Danloux would return to Paris in 1801 and continue to paint until his death in 1809.

Toovey’s picture specialist, Tim Williams with one of the Henri-Pierre Danloux portraits

Charles Philippe, Count d’Artois and later King Charles X of France, arrived in Scotland with his sons and established an émigré court at the Palace of Holyrood, Edinburgh. Danloux travelled from London to Scotland to paint the portraits of his fellow countrymen. His portrait of Louis Antoine was engraved by Philipp Audinet in 1799 (an example can be found at the National Portrait Gallery, London). Versions of both portraits by Danloux can also be found in the collection of the Palace of Versailles,. The portraits sold at Toovey’s were gifts from the sitters to Lord Adam Gordon (1726-1801) commander-in-chief of the forces of North Britain, and remained with the family. Lord Gordon had greeted d’Artois and his sons at the quayside on their arrival in Edinburgh where half of the city had turned out to witness the spectacle. Danloux also painted a portrait of Lord Gordon in 1799 which is now in the collection of the National Galleries Scotland.

It is always special to discover works that are fresh to the market like these. Toovey’s next sale of fine paintings will be held on 17th May 2023 and entries are still being invited.  If you would like advice on you paintings collection contact Tim Williams at Toovey’s.

The Donald Church and Michael Godfrey Collections

These two beautiful collections represent the best of English country house taste and I am delighted that they are the subject of a series of specialist sales at Toovey’s.

The collections are the property of the artist and interior designer Donald Church and the connoisseur Michael Godfrey. Donald and Michael’s great friendship was born out of a shared joy in collecting and National Trust trips.

Donald Church, a graduate of Medway College of Art and Maidstone College of Art, had a remarkable career working with many of the leading interior decorators of the post-war period, including the hugely influential John Fowler of Colefax and Fowler. Although incredibly talented, John Fowler had a reputation for not always being easy to work with. Donald left his position as John’s assistant but remained a life-long friend. He continued to work for John as a consultant over many years, providing watercolour designs and drawings, including studies for John’s interior designs for several National Trust properties. Donald also worked with other leading interior decorators, including David Hicks, Mary Fox Linton and another Colefax and Fowler luminary, Imogen Taylor.

Donald maintained his friendship with John Fowler and a number of pieces from John’s home, The Hunting Lodge in Odiham, form part of Donald’s collection. These include several pieces of furniture and decorative items. There is a photograph showing John Fowler in the Garden Room at The Hunting Lodge, sitting in a Louis XVI style chair which is entered in the auction. Donald Church’s unerring eye for taste, design and quality informed the interiors of his home and his collection.

Michael Godfrey’s collection, too, is informed by exceptional taste and includes fine Georgian furniture and works of art, 18th-century Worcester porcelain, paintings and prints. Michael famously spent his lunchtimes searching out pieces for his collection around St James’s, London, while working as a senior accountant for the Commonwealth Secretariat in Pall Mall.

Their collections will be sold together in a series of specialist auctions throughout March, April and May 2023.

Search “Donald Church” or “Michael Godfrey” in the current auction to see the collections.

The Important Sussex Artist, Fred Cuming

Fred Cuming – ‘Roses I’, 20th century oil on canvas laid onto board, signed recto © the artist/Toovey’s 2023

The artist Fred Cuming, RA, is considered to be one of the finest landscape painters of his generation. He lived and worked in East Sussex.

Born in 1930 Cuming attended the Sidcup School of art in the years after the war. Between 1951 and 1955 Cuming studied at the Royal College of Art in London gaining a Rome Scholarship. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1974 (ARA 1969). He was also a Member of the New English Art Club and an Associate of the Royal College of Art.

Writing about Fred Cuming the biographer Richard Holmes describes him as ‘A truly visionary painter.’ Cuming conveys recognisable scenes transforming them with a poetic intensity born out of light and colour.

Fred Cuming gives voice to his life and inspiration as an artist in the insightful short film Portrait of an artist (Fred Cuming) commissioned by the Royal Academy in 2015.

He describes how he grew up in Woolwich fascinated by the boats and water, painting even as a young boy.

In his Sussex studio he worked on numerous paintings at the same time, each informing the other as they develop. Form and structure in the scene becomes apparent as he commits the scene to paper.

Two oils by this important artist, entered from a collection in Horsham, sold in Toovey’s recent fine art sale for £2200 and £3600 respectively.

Fred Cuming – Fowey, Square Rigger’, 20th century oil on board, signed recto © the artist/Toovey’s 2023

The scene, ‘Fowey, Square Rigger’, shimmers in the Cornish sunlight, the brilliant palette adding life and movement to the scene which is recognisable and abstract – a fleeting moment in time. Cuming has in the past reflected that the “problem presented by the simple seascape, which is about nothing more than light and space, I find particularly intriguing.” This scene is one which I am particularly fond of as we used to holiday at Polruan on the other side of the Fowey estuary when our children were young.

The cool morning light in the studio is finely captured in the still life ‘Roses I’ – the delicate brush work and palette transcends our immediate perceptions. Fred Cuming’s painting captures our attention and stills us.

This questioning artist’s excitement in the world and the landscapes he painted remained undiminished. Cuming reflected “…the more I discover the more there is to discover.”

To discover more about this important Sussex artist visit www.fredcuming.com.