East Meets West Across the Centuries

A fine Chinese export reverse mirror glass painting, Qianlong period (1735-1796)

In the 17th and 18th centuries mercantile trade exposed the West to Chinese decorative art and, perhaps most importantly, Chinese porcelain. It had a profound influence on English tastes.

In England Chinese motifs were often incorporated into our own decorative schemes like those at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.

The £34,000 fine 18th century Chinese export reverse mirror glass painting illustrates this taste and has just been sold at Toovey’s. It is exceptionally well painted with a lady seated on a rock beside a lotus pond with conjugal pairs of pheasants, mandarin ducks and chickens; beyond a pleasure barge processes up the river with an opulent residence on the far shore.

Reverse glass paintings occupy a special position in Chinese art bringing together the genres of Chinese export art, glass working and the painting of idealised beauty. The strong use of colours and exotic flavour ensured their fashionable place in English country house collections during the 18th and later centuries.

In the 20th century Chinese export porcelain and objects from the 17th and 18th centuries once again drew the attention of western collectors.

These interests were reflected in the important single-owner collection from London which has just realised hundreds of thousands of pounds at Toovey’s. One of the features of the collection were a number of fine, rare export porcelain colourful animal, bird and human figures.

A fine, rare pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled export porcelain figure groups of seated maidens with spaniels and phoenixes, early Qianlong period (1735-1796)

Amongst these was a pair of Chinese famille rose enamelled export porcelain figure groups depicting maidens seated in a typical pose with spaniels and marvellous pink phoenixes. 21.5cm high they realised £19,000. They dated from the early Qianlong period (1735-1796) and were fitted with gilt brass candle holders and drip pans. The phoenix, or fenghuang, was the Empress of Birds in Chinese mythology signifying beauty, grace, virtue and the unity of yin and yang.

To understand the importance of this pair of figures it is perhaps helpful to note that a similar pair of figures are to be found in the exceptional Copeland Collection at The Peabody Museum, Salem, USA. The Copeland Collection is known internationally for the superb quality and impressive variety of its many rare pieces. It was put together from 1937 by the American collector, Mrs Lammot du Pont Copeland.

These figures are superb aesthetic objects expressing the form, proportion, detailed decoration, and distinctive modelling that characterize the work of a master potter. They represent the cross-cultural influences and trade between East and West giving a valuable insight into Chinese perceptions of western taste in the 18th century. Being expensive to make and ship these fragile figures were primarily made to order for wealthy private collectors and are therefore rare.

Demand for export pieces like these remains as strong amongst western collectors as it does amongst Chinese. If you would like advice on your Chinese objects Toovey’s Asian Art specialist, Tom Rowsell, can be contacted on 01903 891955 or by emailing 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.

Goodwood’s Motorsport Events a Winning Combination

Katarina Kyvalova in the 1954 Cooper Jaguar T33 approaching Woodcote at the 2018 Goodwood Revival

I am really excited, I’ve just booked my tickets for the 2019 Goodwood motor racing season’s 77th GRRC Members’ Meeting, Festival of Speed and Revival. Goodwood’s quintessential British motorsport events celebrate not only the best of historic racing but also the cutting edge and contemporary in the automotive world. It’s a winning combination here in heart of West Sussex.

Once again the historic racing season will open with the 77th GRRC Member’s Meeting on the weekend of 6th and 7th April 2019. The GRRC spring Members’ Meeting captures the atmosphere of the motorsport meetings at Goodwood in the 1950s and 1960s. This celebration of motor racing is exclusively for members of the Goodwood Road Racing Club (GRRC), and the GRRC Fellowship. It has its own unique atmosphere.

This member only event allows enthusiasts, drivers and car owners to mingle in the paddocks amongst the automobiles sharing what the Duke of Richmond describes as ‘a common passion’.

The reputation of the Goodwood’s Festival of Speed continues to grow attracting many of the world’s leading racing drivers and marques. As testament to this Tesla chose to debut its hugely influential Model 3 in the UK at the 2018 Festival of Speed against the backdrop of exotic machines hurtling up the famous hill climb. The best of British was also on display with Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin, McLaren and Rolls Royce all much in evidence. The 2019 Festival of Speed is scheduled for the 4th to the 7th July.

Rupert Toovey at the 2018 Goodwood Revival

September’s Goodwood Revival has a unique and special quality to it attracting vintage outfits as well as cars. With my love of bowties, sports jackets and cords as my everyday attire I fit right in! The Revival celebrates the halcyon days of motor racing with the accompanying glamour of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.

At this year’s Revival Katarina Kyvalova, herself no stranger to Goodwood and historic motor racing, was once again driving her 1954 Cooper Jaguar T33 in the 25 minute Freddie March Memorial Trophy for sports cars made between 1952 and 1955. It’s the longest race of the weekend and Katarina’s performance once again provided a welcome reminder of the Cooper team’s competiveness and important place in sports car and Formula 1 motor racing. I love the purposeful, clean lines of the Cooper Jaguar T33, especially in British racing green.

Next year’s Revival will take place from the 13th to the 15th September 2019.

To find out more about the benefits of membership of the GRRC and GRRC Fellowship, how to join, and this year’s Festival of Speed, Goodwood Revival, and to book tickets go to www.goodwood.com/sports/motorsport. The 2018 Goodwood motoring season quickly sold out so don’t delay!

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.

Contemporary Surrealist at Pallant House Gallery

Cathie Pilkington., RA, in her studio, 2017, courtesy of Eamonn McCabe’

London based artist Cathie Pilkington., RA, has been invited to create an installation at Pallant House Gallery, as part of the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary celebrations. The exhibition is titled ‘Cathie Pilkington: Working from Home’ and explores motherhood and domesticity in an ambiguous way.

Pilkington creates her figurative work combining traditional fine art methods of modelling, carving and painting with craft techniques. Her doll-like forms transcend the everyday causing the viewer to explore in their imaginations an unconscious reality beyond their immediate perception.

Pilkington describes her use of the doll as “a fantastic, potent thing and a lot of that is a question of material and scale. Everyone who has a doll when they are growing up undresses it to look at how it’s made. You see the plastic limbs and the soft body and the perverse discrepancy between the two; you understand the false naturalism and you somehow want it to be more convincing. I think everyone has had that kind of experience with objects that pretend to be real.”

Cathie Pilkington’s ‘Twinkle’ and ‘Pietà 1: Playing Dead’ at Pallant House Gallery

Talking about this exhibition Cathie Pilkington comments “Being able to approach such a collection of works in the intimacy of domestic architecture is one of the things which first drew me to Pallant House Gallery. I am convinced that work made on an intimate scale, involving the viewer in close proximity has as much power to deal with big subjects as any macho museum scale art.”

The early 20th century avant-garde Surrealist movement in art and literature sought to release the creative potential of the unconscious mind juxtaposing images in seemingly irrational ways. Cathie Pilkington’s installation takes the form of a Surrealist exposé exploring the themes of motherhood, privacy, domesticity and the unconscious.

She draws heavily on the gallery’s collection and architecture rooting her own work in the intimate context of the house’s 18th century interiors. One of the delights of this show is the way that it allows you to see the collection through new lenses.

The installation is disruptive challenging the visitor to reconsider powerful cultural imagery to reveal what the artist perceives to be at the heart of familiar narratives. Her Pieta 1: Playing Dead is particularly disturbing in the company of the figure Twinkle. The room is hung with surreal and imaginative landscapes – works from the gallery’s collection by Edward Burra, John Craxton, Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland – which adds to this series of playful but unsettling juxtapositions.

This powerful exhibition is beautiful as well as thought provoking and Pilkington’s choice of works from Pallant House Gallery’s collection is exhilarating.

‘Cathie Pilkington: Working from Home’ runs at the Pallant House Gallery, 9 North Pallant, Chichester, PO19 1TJ, throughout their winter season until 31st March 2019. For more information go to www.pallant.org.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.

Norman Ackroyd’s Wild Islands at Pallant House

Norman Ackroyd, The Rumbling Muckle Flugga, Shetland, 2013 © The Artist

The celebrated Royal Academy print maker and watercolourist, Norman Ackroyd, is the subject of a retrospective exhibition titled Wild Isles at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. The show coincides with the RA250 celebrations.

Norman Ackroyd., CBE, RA, immerses himself in the wilderness of the landscape to paint and etch, creating intensely atmospheric work in the romantic tradition.

Norman Ackroyd has been attracting much attention in this his eightieth year. Speaking with the writer Robert Macfarlane on BBC Radio 4’s outstanding Only Artists series Ackroyd describes how he has focused on the landscape and especially the West Coast of Britain. His prints are representational. Using his visual and aural memory together with sketches made en plein air Ackroyd says “…I just get the atmosphere and feeling of how I felt then…that’s the image, and it’s an image which can’t be described…it’s like trying to catch a butterfly and it comes from memory…What I hope for most when I’m painting is for all my rational thoughts to disappear: my eye, heart and hand become connected, and then I can distil the real essence of the landscape.’

Norman Ackroyd works in aquatint. It was John Piper’s book Brighton Aquatints which was credited with the revival of this print technique in the 20th century.

The process of creating an aquatint involves exposing a plate, usually of copper or zinc, to acid through an applied layer of granulated, melted resin. The acid incises the plate between the granules creating areas of evenly pitted surface. This can be varied by applying additional resin, scraping and burnishing. Different strengths of acids are also employed. When the grains are removed and the plate is printed it results in variations of tone. The effect often resembles watercolours and wash drawings, hence the name Aquatint.

His study of the British Isles’ most northernmost point, Muckle Flugga, Shetland, is an image of a fixed place and point in time. The cliff has a real sense of mass. In contrast the birds, sea and sky are alive expressing movement. Ackroyd has said “…an etching is not the black ink, it’s the white paper you leave – it’s the reverse.”

Norman Ackroyd, On Twyford Down, Deacon Hill, 1993, etching on paper © The Artist

In contrast On Twyford Down, Deacon Hill captures the softer southern hills outside Winchester, though still with a sense of drama.

Rooted in the English tradition Norman Ackroyd’s work often relates to a place – a landscape. He brings a particular quality of engagement to his subjects, capturing the poetic, his emotional response and thoughts, as well as the essence of the physical reality.

‘Wild Isles’ runs until the 24th February 2019 and thanks to the generosity of sponsors, DeLonghi, admission to the exhibition is free. The exhibition can be seen at Pallant House Gallery, 9 North Pallant, Chichester, PO19 1TJ. For more information go to www.pallant.org.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.

We will remember them

A photographic postcard of the reconstruction of a French battlefield in Trafalgar Square, London, for the ‘Feed the Guns’ War Bond campaign in 1918, courtesy of Toovey’s

The coming Remembrance Sunday will be particularly poignant falling exactly 100 years after the Great War’s Armistice which came into force at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

The spring of 1918 saw an intensification of fighting as the Germans mounted an offensive to break through the Allies line. Despite some initial gains it sparked the Allies’ counter offensive which became known as the Hundred Days Offensive. It began on the 8th August 1918 with the Battle of Amiens, involving 400 tanks and 120,000 British, Dominion and French troops. By the end of the first day a 15 mile hole in the German line had been won. The offensive continued and in the following four weeks some 100,000 German soldiers were taken as prisoners of war. Germany realised she had lost the war although fierce fighting continued. The Allies pressed forward. The Armistice with Germany was signed early on the morning of the 11th November 1918 in a railway carriage in Compiègne. Northern France.

After the war there was a great movement to create memorials. Edwin Lutyens was commissioned to create the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall.

Charles Sargeant Jagger – No Man’s Land, brown patinated cast bronze rectangular relief plaque, first conceived 1919-1920 © Toovey’s 2018

The artist Charles Sargeant Jagger had given up his Rome scholarship at the outbreak of war and initially joined the Artists’ Rifles before being commissioned into the Worcestershire Regiment in 1915. He served at Gallipoli and on the Western Front and was awarded the Military Cross for Gallantry. His Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner is amongst his most famous work. Jagger’s bronze ‘No Man’s Land’ shows a listening post in No Man’s Land. A soldier hides among the bodies of his dead comrades in order to listen to the enemy close by.

Courage and sacrifice will be remembered in churches across Britain, Europe and America. The common story and Christian heritage which unites us will be expressed in services of Remembrance and thanksgiving. Once again these familiar bidding words will be heard:
“We have come to remember before God those who have died for their country in the two world wars and the many conflicts of the years that have followed. Some we knew and loved: we treasure their memory still. Others are unknown to us: to their remembrance too, we give our time…With thanksgiving we recall services offered and sacrifices made…”

Early in the war Laurence Binyon wrote ‘For the Fallen’ as he sat upon the Rumps in north Cornwall. These words are often spoken as an exhortation after the two minutes silence has been observed:
‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.’

I hope that each of us will be able to find time in this Remembrance weekend to reflect, offering thanks and prayers for the courage of successive generations who have been called, and continue to be called, to defend the greater cause of liberal democracy, justice and concord.

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.