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.

Promoting the Arts in Sussex

On July 21st Toovey’s Auctioneers and Valuers host their annual Contemporary Art Auction at their Spring Gardens salerooms in Washington, West Sussex. The auction is an eagerly awaited event for many collectors and connoisseurs of contemporary art and follows the preview exhibition “Off the Wall” at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery.

While most art auctions deal with the resale of second-hand works, this auction is unique, as it offers new works entered by the artists themselves. This year, event organiser Nicholas Toovey has selected 150 works to showcase fifty of the best emerging and established contemporary artists around, the majority from Sussex. He describes the collection as “a diverse and eclectic mix of styles and media that really highlights what is being produced today.” The variety on offer is testament to each artist’s individual approach to his or her subject and medium. The sale offers paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs and ceramics, with a third of this year’s roster of artists newly sourced and appearing at the auction for the first time.

Elizabeth Jardine's sculpture 'Owl', wingspan 61cm
Elizabeth Jardine's sculpture 'Owl'

One of the artists new to the event is Elizabeth Jardine from Brighton. She has steadily been developing her work since graduating from Falmouth College of Art in 2003. Inspired by long walks in the countryside, her paintings are quiet and meditative, often views through wooded paths with flickering light dancing across the canvas. Alongside her 2-D work, and equally important to the artist, are her papier-mâché sculptures, three of which have been selected for the auction. ‘Owl’ is a typical example of her 3-D work, where the wonkiness of cardboard and the energy of torn paper transform into characterful birds and animals full of life and spirit.

Nicholas looks all year round for artists with the right dynamic to keep the auction fresh and different from previous sales. He carefully balances new participants with past contributors that patrons of the event have grown to know and love, such as Chris Kettle, Carolyn Genders, Paul Cox and Eve Shepherd.

Richard Davidson's oil on panel 'Wellington Boots', 40 x 50cm
Richard Davidson's oil on panel 'Wellington Boots'

Richard Davidson has been a regular contributor to the auction over the years. This year he has entered three original oils on canvas based on the extraordinary ordinariness of everyday things. Prior to training as an artist, Richard had a legal career in London. This obviously still influences his subject matter, as much of it relates to the accoutrements of white collar work in the city, but as he quips: “the precision and attention to detail required as a solicitor made it unlikely that I would ever be an abstract painter.” A typical example of his work entered in the auction is ‘Wellington Boots’, which shows his attention to detail and his typical solid colour background, creating the strong contrasts characteristic of his oeuvre. It does not show the link to working in the city in the same way as his other two works but perhaps, after living in Graffham for the last eleven years, life in the country is slowly altering his source of inspiration.

Three works in naked raku entered by ceramicist John Evans, heights 15 to 20cm
Three works in naked raku entered by ceramicist John Evans

John Evans is among the fourteen ceramicists participating in the sale. The Worthing-based potter is a member of the Sussex Guild, the Craft Potters Association, London Potters and the Southern Ceramics Group. His work is largely in ‘naked raku’, an involved and lengthy process, which culminates in using the effects of smoke to decorate fired clay forms. While raku can be produced in a variety of colours, the orangey background on the three pieces John has entered is a result of using a local clay as the slip. In fact for these works the clay was literally dug up from his own garden in Worthing. John burnishes all his pieces before the initial firing, which leaves them incredibly tactile with an unrivalled smoothness.

The auction has been described as “the best Contemporary Art Auction to be held in the South East.” This is largely attributable to the family-firm ethos of Toovey’s, combined with internationally recognised expertise and Nicholas Toovey’s personal passion for promoting the arts in Sussex. With works estimated from £50 to £8000, Toovey’s Contemporary Art Auction 2012 aims to be accessible to all, offering a friendly and enjoyable way to get involved in the contemporary art market. A fully-illustrated catalogue featuring interviews with each participating artist is currently available. The majority of works are on display at Horsham Museum and Art Gallery in their preview exhibition “Off The Wall” until July 7th. All works can then be viewed at Toovey’s Spring Gardens salerooms on Friday July 20th between 12 noon and 5pm and on Saturday July 21st from 3pm until the start of the auction at 6pm.

Nicholas Toovey’s article was originally published in Sussex Life magazine in July 2012.