Rare Robert Walton Continent Maps at Auction

Robert Walton's Map of Europe

A scarce set of maps of  Continents of the World by Robert Walton have been consigned by an American collector for Toovey’s Select Sale of Paintings and Prints on Wednesday 5th December 2012.

Robert Walton was one of only a handful of map publishers active in London in the mid-17th Century. Not much has been written about this map maker, who produced sheet maps of the roads of England and Wales before John Ogilby. The son of a yeoman farmer, Walton was born in 1618 in Welford. After an apprenticeship with John Costard of Lothburg, he established himself as a printer, map seller and publisher near Saint Paul’s, London. Walton died in 1688, having worked in the business until 1686.  For his maps of the then-known Continents of the World, Walton took the best of the contemporary Dutch maps by Pieter van den Keere, Nicolaas Visscher, Johannes Blaeu and others and adapted them to the English market. He re-engraved his European rivals’ images, changed the integral text to English and occasionally reinterpreted the geographic information. The unifying feature of Walton’s maps is his use of the fashionable ‘carte à figure’ style: the central panel contains the map proper, whilst around the edge is a wide panelled border, filled with related vignette portraits and views. These vignettes, with images gathered from many sources, are sometimes informative and always charming.

Robert Walton's Map of America

‘A New, Plaine, and Exact map of America…’ depicts North and South America, contained within a panelled border of titled vignette views of cities, like Havana and Mexico City, portraits of explorers, such as Christopher Columbus and Francis Drake, and portraits of indigenous peoples. The map has other decorative qualities; ships, canoes and water creatures are depicted in the sea and animals fill the undiscovered land, representing some of the native fauna. Walton’s map is unique for its diplomatic interpretation of the Island/Peninsula of California. From the 16th to the 18th Century, California regularly appeared on maps as an island, despite much debate to the contrary. Today, it has become one of the most notable cartographic mistakes in history. In ‘California as an Island’, R.V. Tooley writes, “This is an extremely interesting and uncommon map being an intermediate state in the geographical conception of the West Coast, the only map I know to show this compromise solution in the controversy as to whether California was an island or a peninsula.” The other Continents are similarly interesting; Europe, for example, is the second state with King Charles II replacing Cromwell’s portrait in the panelled border, beside a view of London around the time of the Great Fire in 1666.

Robert Walton's Map of Asia
Robert Walton's Map of Africa

Single examples of Walton’s Continents maps do appear on the market infrequently. There is currently an example of the map of Africa for sale at $9500, described as “probably the rarest map of Africa produced in England”, and in the relatively recent past a copy of the map of the Americas was retailed in New York with an asking price of $24,000, described as “a rare map”. On the American West Coast, a copy of Walton’s Asia was sold for $6000 with the accompanying text: “Extremely rare, this being the first example we have ever seen offered for sale.”  Examples of the map of Europe are listed as having sold at auction just twice in the last 15 years. So, with patience, a collector could expect to come across single maps and, over a number of years or even decades, could perhaps assemble a complete set. In December, Toovey’s are offering the rare opportunity to buy the four in one lot. The last time that we have been able to trace when all four maps were offered for sale at the same time was in 1988, when a set in poor condition was sold through the trade in America. This current set (Lot 85) carries a pre-sale estimate of £12,000-18,000 and will be sold at Toovey’s Spring Gardens auction house on Wednesday morning 5th December 2012. If you require more information or detailed condition reports, please contact us, and don’t hesitate – it may well be more than 24 years before the next set comes onto the market!

Additional images of the maps, click to enlarge:

Entries Invited for December Auction of Selected Paintings

George Percy Jacomb-Hood
George Percy Jacomb-Hood

As the November auction goes on view, the December sale is already taking shape.  The Select Sale of Paintings has a number of works already consigned; among them a beautiful oil on canvas by George Percy Jacomb-Hood.

Jacomb-Hood was born at Redhill on 6th July 1857, the son of an engineer and director of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. He was educated at Tonbridge School and received formal art training at the Slade School; here he won a travelling scholarship and the Poynter Prize. He continued his study under J.P. Laurens in Paris. Throughout his successful career Jacomb-Hood exhibited widely, including at the Royal Academy and at the Paris Salon. He was an original member of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters but later resigned his membership. Jacomb-Hood worked for The Graphic and The Illustrated London News, travelling to India with the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1905 and with King George V for the Durbar in 1911. On the latter trip he was a member of the King’s personal staff and became a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) in 1912. Jacomb-Hood lived for most of his life in London and died on 11th December 1929.

While working for The Graphic he was sent to Greece in 1896, the same year that this oil on canvas was painted. His travels obviously inspired him to paint this scene based on Greek mythology. This original work depicts Pan seated beside a nymph in a wooded area, the God is playing his flute causing the faun-like children of Pan to dance around in the background. It is signed and dated 1896 to the bottom-left corner. Estimated at £3000-5000, the painting measures 100cm x 100cm and is presented in a sympathetic gilt composition picture frame.

Further entries are invited for the Select Sale of Paintings and although the deadline for entries is the 21st November it is recommended to bring works for inclusion in the auction on the week commencing 12th November. Other specialist sales featured in the December auction include: Silver & Plate, Jewellery, Oriental Ceramics & Works of Art, and Antique & Period Furniture. Pre-sale valuations are free of charge at Toovey’s Spring Gardens salerooms in Washington, West Sussex. We are happy to provide no obligation valuations on single items or entire collections, please do not hesitate to contact us by email or telephone with any queries.

“Bruneliana” sells at Toovey’s

The Brunel/Noble silver trunk

The Brunel Hawes Archive was successfully sold by Toovey’s in November 2010. The sale made national newspapers including the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, and was even a topic of discussion by the National Trust in a fascinating blog post. Since the single owner auction it has been well reported that Toovey’s have established themselves as the leading auctioneers in the successful marketing and sale of items relating to the Brunel family. As the main port of call for selling items relating to Sir Marc Isambard Brunel and his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, it is unsurprising that an array of related items have gone under the gavel at our Spring Gardens auction house.  Items offered for sale since the Brunel Hawes Archive include ‘The Great Eastern ABC’ (featured in a previous blog post), that sold for £9000. In the same auction a slightly tatty copy of  the scarce publication ‘A Complete History of the Great Eastern‘ sold for £800.  This fascinating pamphlet published by the Liverpool department Store, Lewis’s, advertised the ship’s final use as a floating music hall. A mug and nursery plate commemorating the Thames Tunnel sold for £580, showing the demand is not just for I.K., but for his father, Sir Marc, too.  Among the slightly more unusual items offered was a silver trunk that once belonged to the famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel which also beared the marks of his granddaughter’s husband Saxton William Armstrong Noble, who coincidently, was also an engineer. The oak and metal bound trunk sold for £1750 in March this year.

George Henry Andrews watercolour

In April, a fascinating and possibly unique group of seven magic lantern slides were sold for £5800. Each documented the last few days of the Great Eastern and included views on deck with items grouped as lots prior to the breaking up of the ship in 1889. Two months later a mid-19th Century watercolour was consigned, titled ‘History of Steam Navigation‘, this monochrome watercolour by George Henry Andrews was probably a preliminary drawing for the ‘Illustrated London News’ for whom the artist worked for. The central view was of the S.S. Great Eastern but surrounding this was smaller titled vignettes including I.K. Brunel’s other ships the Great Britain and the Great Western. This original work sold for £3200. The most recent offering of “Bruneliana” appeared in August as part of the auction of Paper Collectables. A concertina style optical toy peepshow of the Thames Tunnel from the Wapping Entrance sold for £1100. Over the last two years a variety of photographs relating to Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his engineering triumphs have also featured in Toovey’s auctions and always attract considerable interest, more of these are already consigned for the Sale of Paper Collectables on 6th November. Some people might wonder why these items appear in Sussex when the Brunels are much more associated with Bristol and London. The days of internet advertising and Toovey’s direct marketing mean that successful sales of “Bruneliana” can be held in Sussex. These items have sold to private collectors, specialist dealers, institutions and investment corporations across the country.  As the Antiques Trade Gazette reported on the 24th March “The Sussex village of Washington has to a very large degree become the preferred point of sale for Brunel material in recent times.”  Those still wanting a tenuous link with the Brunel family and Sussex however, can find one in the schooling of Isambard Kingdom. Between 1816 and 1820 the young, future engineer attended Dr Morell’s Academy in Hove, where it is believed he nearly choked on a half sovereign. As a result of this local connection the Brighton & Hove 673 double-decker bus is named after the famed engineer – an arguably useless piece of trivia to finish with!

Dr Geoffrey Sparrow (1887-1969)

Dr Geoffrey Sparrow

A nationally important comic artist and illustrator is given a one man show at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery this September. Dr Sparrow pursued his hobby while serving the residents of the ancient market town of Horsham for half of the 20th Century. His importance on the national scene was recognised back in 2001 when Horsham Museum obtained a grant from the V&A Purchase Grant fund to buy some of his prints, aquatints and original artwork. 11 years later the Museum is holding a major retrospective on an artist who follows in the tradition of Rowlandson, Leech and Alkin, in capturing the foibles and characters of both man and beast.

Dr Sparrow grew up in a Devonshire Home, as his autobiography ‘Foxes and Physic‘ states “in such an atmosphere of red coats, horses, hounds, terriers and old sporting prints on the wall I became thoroughly soaked in the tradition of fox hunting and have always held old Jorrocks’ opinion that all time not spent in hunting is wasted.” He studied medicine at Cambridge and Barts, going into medicine as “something had to be chosen… I was offered the law, medicine or the church: didn’t like an uncle who was a solicitor, so that was out; our parson was rather stout and greasy and preached long and dull sermons, and away with that, so there remained medicine.”

Dr Sparrow arrived in Horsham in 1919 having served as a doctor in the First World War where he was awarded a Military Cross. He co-wrote a book about the campaigns he fought in: ‘On Four Fronts with the Royal Naval Division‘. The volume was peppered with comic masterpieces, many of which were taken from his diaries which now reside at the Imperial War Museum. Once settled in Horsham he observed everyday life and developed a fond affection for the place and people. During the Second World War he saw military service and at the end of the war he retired from medical practise devoting his life to hunting and art. He joined Brighton and Hove Art School where every Friday he would learn etching and aquatinting.

The exhibition of over 35 works of art collected over the last 20 years reveals a quality of illustration, line and observational skills that mark out Dr Sparrow’s drawings from the humdrum. Through his quick sketches he spans some 50 years of life in Horsham town and field with a fascination for the hunting, the absurd and the ironic. The illustrations were always done with a sense of soft humour , making them sketches that could delight the wall of the Horsham gentlefolk rather than the savage satire that appeals to the lovers of Gilray.

'The West Street Nuisance, Horsham', etching by Dr Geoffrey Sparrow

The exhibition ‘A Host of Sparrows’ (for a grouping of Sparrows as ornithologists and the Doctor would know is called a Host) opens on Tuesday 4th September and runs until 13th October 2012 at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery, located in the Causeway, which Dr Sparrow referred to as “a curious old cul-de-sac leading to the church”. Toovey’s forthcoming auction of Selected Fine Oil Paintings, Watercolours, Drawings and Prints on 12th September, also includes four works by Dr Geoffrey Sparrow, each highlighting the mastery and wit of this Horsham-based artist.

Major Exhibition at Horsham Museum

'Autumn' by Ivon Hitchens, one of the exhibits at Horsham Museum & Art Gallery

Thanks to amazing good fortune Horsham Museum & Art Gallery is able to showcase work by Henry Moore, Jacob Epstein, Paul Nash, Ivon Hitchens, Stanley Spencer and twelve other greats of British art in a temporary exhibition called ‘A Summer of Great British Art.’

Good fortune is the key to an amazing opportunity that has blessed Horsham this summer. The University of Chichester’s Otter Gallery had the good fortune to have a major refurbishment. It also had the good fortune to have a fantastic collection of contemporary British art. While it is being refurbished 17 pictures from its collection are being loaned to Horsham Museum & Art Gallery. This is an incredibly rare opportunity, literally once in a lifetime, as galleries don’t often lend out the crème of their collection, yet thanks to an investment by the University in its facilities, that is exactly what University of Chichester’s Otter Gallery is doing.

The exhibition, which runs for two months from 17th July to 15th September, was only possible through the support of Toovey’s, the Washington-based auction house that assisted with the insurance of this major collection of art. For two months the art will adorn the walls of Horsham Museum’s recently opened art gallery, a venture which has attracted a whole new audience to the Museum. An audience that would go to the Tate to see a David Mitchie, or Elizabeth Blackadder, or Richard Eurich, or a Walter Sickert can now come to Horsham to see these works for the summer of 2012 only.

2012 is a remarkable summer for Britain with sporting and cultural highlights. For the town of Horsham it is also a remarkable summer that  started with Matisse and now with this outstanding exhibition on display, an event only made possible through the work of Horsham District Arts, Toovey’s and The University of Chichester’s Otter Gallery. It is an exhibition that will go down in the annals of the town’s cultural history.

‘A Summer of Great British Art’ opens at Horsham Museum on 17th July and closes 15th September 2012.