Patrick Hughes – Reverspective

Patrick Hughes – ‘Poppish’, mixed media 3D multiple including archival inkjet and hand-painted acrylic, signed ‘A/P’, and editioned 13/15 in pencil, published by Reverspective Ltd, circa 2019

Patrick Hughes (b.1939) is acknowledged as being one of the major artists of contemporary British art.

He has been linked with the British Surrealists and Pop Art. However, in that very British way Patrick Hughes has followed his own particular artistic path.

He has been producing his reverse perspectives since 1970, calling them ‘reverspectives’. Speaking about his reverspectives Hughes is quoted as saying “When the principles of perspectives are reversed and solidified in sculpted paintings [and mixed media] something extraordinary happens; the mind is deceived into believing the impossible, that a static painting can move of its own accord.”

Born in Birmingham in October 1939 Patrick Hughes claims inspiration from his childhood whilst staying at his grandmother’s house. Growing up during the Second World War he would shelter from the bombing with his mother in a cupboard under the stairs. The reverse perspective afforded from seeing the stairs from below, and the infinite perspective formed by standing between two mirrors at his grandmother’s house speak into his reverspectives.

Today Patrick Hughes lives and works in London. His works are represented in many international collections including the British Library and the Tate Gallery.

The playful and visually arresting mixed media 3D multiple, ‘Poppish’, you see here was sold at Toovey’s for £2250. It initially appears to be a flat surface but even subtle movement by the viewer reveals the three-dimensional surface which underpins the composition, accentuating the depth of perspective which appears to shift with remarkable speed creating a sense of movement.

The illusion is created by depicting the scene in reverse to the relief surface – the most distant parts of the gallery interior are painted and printed on the bits of the relief surface which project the farthest. The rectilinear forms of the art gallery and paintings serve to heighten the illusory impact.

The surreal gallery space with its references to artists, in this case Roy Lichenstein, Damien Hirst, Keith Haring, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Bansky and Hughes himself with his rainbow filled dustbin, is a common theme.

Patrick Hughes work allows us to explore our place in the world and our understanding of the space we inhabit in each moment of our lives.

Prints and editions range in date from the 15th to the 21st century and are one of the strongest markets at auction.

I remain excited by how strong the interest has been during the lockdown for a wide range of collectors’ items, antiques and art.

By the time you read this Toovey’s will have reopened and be able to welcome the public at its salerooms again by appointment. We have a series of specialist sales already scheduled for the coming weeks so do phone or email us to make an appointment to meet our valuers, virtually or in person.

Coronavirus COVID-19

We have now reopened. We have created a COVID Secure environment to ensure the safety of our staff and clients. As a result, certain aspects of our business will change in the short term.

We are returning with a temporarily smaller team, so please be patient when calling, emailing or visiting our salerooms.

For the latest information please visit https://www.tooveys.com/coronavirus/ 

We understand these are challenging times for everyone and very much appreciate your continued support.

The Art and Science of Fine Porcelain

The art of porcelain expressed in a pair of late 18th century Meissen Rococo bouquetière figures, a pair of early 19th century Coalport bucket shaped jardinères, and a later 19th century Vienna Neo-Classical charger

In the late 17th century ‘porcelain fever’ struck Europe. Petworth’s Elizabeth, Duchess of Somerset, was an avid collector of Chinese blue and white porcelain, a passion she shared with her friend, Queen Anne. Porcelain became associated with wealth and status and the balance of payments with China worsened.

The search for the mysteries of making hard-paste porcelain became the focus of alchemists (18th century chemical engineers) across Europe.

It was Johaan Friedrich Böttger (1682-1719) who invented European hard-paste porcelain at the Meissen factory under the patronage of Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. It is humbling to reflect that more money was invested to invent porcelain in Europe than it cost a later generation to put a man on the moon.

In 1731 Johaan Joachim Kändler (1706-1775) joined Meissen, becoming the chief modeller at the factory in 1733. Art and science came together to make Meissen the first and pre-eminent

Porcelain manufactory in Europe for much of the 18th century. Kändler moved effortlessly from the Baroque to the Rococo style.

The pair of late 18th centuy Meissen porcelain bouquetière figures illustrated are modelled after Kändler. They depict a lady and gentleman seated on rococo rockwork bases holding oval baskets. The vivid broad patches of coloured glazes in the costumes sets off the undecorated glittering areas of precious hard-paste porcelain. The figures are typically marked with underglaze blue crossed swords and incised numerals.

The beautiful Coalport porcelain jardinères, seen here without their stands, date from 1805, the same date as Nelson’s famous and tragic victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Based in Shropshire the factory was founded by John Rose. He ran it successfully until hs death in 1841. Although influenced by Sèvres porcelain Coalport has a particular English quality. The jardinères’ delicious bucket shape, yellow ground and soft gilt lines frame botanical studies of extraordinary delicacy and quality. They bear no marks and yet are perhaps the most valuable pieces shown here. Their attribution to Coalport was possible by comparison with a similar known jardinère illustrated in Michael Messenger’s ‘Coalport 1795-1926’.

The elaborately decorated porcelain charger was made at the Vienna factory in the 19th century. Vienna was the second factory to make hard-paste porcelain in Europe. From 1784 Konrad von Sorgenthal took over direction of the Vienna factory. Much of its output was influenced by the French late Neo-Classical style so closely associated with the tastes of Napolean Bonaparte, later Napolean I.

19th century production at the factory continued in the Sorgenthal style with Neo-Classical shapes and Empire decoration, though it was also influenced by the middle-class sensibilities of the Biedermeir.

The later 19th century Vienna porcelain charger is richly painted with classical figures in a harbourside setting. The pink ground border with its alternating chocolate brown enamelled and gilded panels opulently frames the scene. You see here that the decoration now entirely covers the porcelain. It is marked with an underglaze blue shield mark to the base.

At auction today these pieces would range from mid to high hundreds of pounds.

I am excited by how strong the interest has been during the lockdown for a wide range of collectors’ items, antiques and art.

All being well, and the ‘R’ number willing, Toovey’s will reopen to the public by appointment this coming Monday 15th June 2020. We have a series of specialist sales already scheduled for the coming weeks so do email us to make an appointment to meet our valuers, virtually or in person.

In an English Country Garden

Alfred William Parsons (1847-1929) – Garden Scene with Figure and Dogs, early 20th century oil on canvas, signed recto

Like so many of us I was blessed to spend the weekend in my English Country Garden. The purple Alliums that line the borders have been joined by brilliant orange Geums and an array of abundant, scented Roses whose colours and texture soothes the heart. They are complimented by violet Geraniums and the blue of the Salvia, their hues evolving in the light and heat of the day. As you process up the gravel path between the beds on either side the plants enfold and hold you.

It has once again caused me to reflect on how it must been for those who do not have a garden or access to a green space during the Covid-19 lockdown. I hope they will be blessed by the easing of restrictions with good social distancing allowing them to see some loved ones and keep safe.

Being in my garden brings to mind a Garden Scene we sold recently at Toovey’s for £2000. It was painted by Alfred William Parsons (1847-1920) in the early 20th century. Parsons was a Royal Academician. A very English artist, he worked as an illustrator, landscape artist and garden designer. He was recognised for giving voice to an ‘Englishness’ in his work which resonated with the American imagination.

Alfred Parsons brought art to the garden and his designs. He would produce ‘portraits’ of gardens and precise illustrations of botanical specimens. Parsons worked with the famous gardener, William Robinson, on several books. Alfred Parsons would design gardens in Britain and the United States. His transatlantic connections were strengthened through his membership of the Anglo-American ‘Broadway Group’. It was made up of artists and writers that included the author Henry James and artist John Singer Sargent. Broadway in the Cotswolds drew composers too, like Edward Elgar and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The painting, Garden Scene, depicts that moment where spring turns to summer.

A black terrier lies panting, cooling herself on the stone flags beneath the scented Jasmine. The striking blue Agapanthus line the path and invite us into the scene as a young woman, carrying a wicker basket, catches the attention of a Jack Russell with a treat. At the back of the border a climbing rose holds our eye.

I am excited by how strong the demand is for a wide range of collectors’ items, antiques and art like this Alfred Parsons oil at the moment, and by the number of people booking appointments for auction valuations.

Satsuma: Ceramic Art to Delight the Imagination

A rare Japanese Satsuma earthenware presentation circular dish by Sozan at Kinkōzan, Meiji period (1868-1912)

It is with a sense of anticipation and excitement that we are preparing to reopen Toovey’s auction rooms to the public. The ‘R’ number willing, and having already been postponed once, we will open on Monday 15th June.

Our first specialist auction will be a fine selection of Chinese and Japanese ceramics and works of art from across Sussex; it is already attracting strong interest internationally and from across the UK.

One of the pieces which is attracting the attention of collectors and specialist dealers alike is the remarkable Satsuma dish you see here which has a pre-sale estimate of £2000-£4000.

In contrast to the predominately agrarian society which preceded it, a vibrant community of merchants and businesses grew up in Japan’s towns and cities in the early and mid-19th century.

For the first time urban populations had the means and leisure time to support a new culture of theatres, geisha and courtesans. This search for pleasure became known as ukiyo (the floating world), an ideal world of fashion and entertainment.

The prints, netsuke and ceramics which would be exported to, and have such an influence on, the West were born out this cultural movement.

Satsuma ceramics are a quintessential expression of the Meiji period (1868-1912) which continues to delight the imaginations of western collectors and our sense of the exotic.

Satsuma ceramics met with great success at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867. The mature Satsuma style was introduced to Kyoto by Kinkōzan Sōbei VI (1824-1884) and the Awata district became the centre of Satsuma production. In contrast to earlier pieces Satsuma from the Meiji period was elaborately decorated and predominately produced for export. The extravagance of these designs contributed to its popularity in Western markets.

Wares produced in Kyoto were similar in style and taste to the Satsuma produced in other towns and cities like Osaka and Yokohama. Satsuma had become an aesthetic term rather than denoting place. Indeed popular themes were published and shared.

However, it was the painters’ skill, stylistic preferences and range of colours that gave a piece its individual character. The finest painters like Sozan at Kinkōzan cultivated distinctive and personal styles. Sozan whose red seal within a cartouche appears on the presentation dish illustrated is considered to be among the finest painters of his kind in Japan. Dated, documentary Satsuma earthenware, like this dish, is extremely rare.

Whilst the scene is characteristic of Satsuma the distinctive, exceptional quality and style of painting is typically Sozan. Two bijin (beautiful women) stand in conversation in an exquisitely conceived landscape as a child plays with a kite beside a river. In the distance Mount Fuji can be seen, with a village on the horizon.

Items produced by the Kinkōzan Sōbei porcelain company are marked ‘Kinkōzan’. However, some pieces also carry the name ‘Sozan’. Sozan was a painter of porcelain but it is commonly held that he was also responsible for the decorative schemes and designs on these pieces.

This exceptional dish will be one of the highlights in Toovey’s first sale of Japanese and Chinese ceramics and works of art since the lockdown. The auction is scheduled for mid-June.

All being well Toovey’s will reopen to the public on Monday 15th June 2020 so do email us to make an appointment to meet our valuers, virtually or in person.