The Library Collection of the late W. Leslie Weller MBE, DL, FSA

The Library Collection of the late W. Leslie Weller MBE, DL, FSA

Tuesday 2nd December 2014 at 11am

Toovey’s are proud to announce this additional sale to our 2014 calendar, which comprises the contents of the library of the late William Leslie Weller (1935-2014), consigned from his former home: Hobshorts House, Rookcross Lane, West Grinstead, West Sussex.

Hobshorts
Hobshorts

Leslie Weller, as he preferred to be known, was born in the Sussex village of Itchingfield. His father was a tenant farmer of some 100 acres close to the church. Leslie was educated at Collyer’s Grammar School in Horsham. His rural upbringing installed in him a love of the Sussex countryside and country pursuits but Leslie also developed strong interests in antiques and the fine arts and Sussex history and antiquities. All these passions would shape his life and work to come. Leslie went on to qualify as a chartered surveyor and in later life held the post of chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Art and Antiques faculty.

Duke of Beaufort and Leslie Weller © Jim Meads
Duke of Beaufort & W. Leslie Weller © Jim Meads

Leslie enjoyed a long and illustrious career in the field of fine art auctioneering. It was his inspiration and dedication that created the first regional centre of expertise outside London for Sotheby’s. For many years he was chairman of Sotheby’s in Sussex and a director of the firm. His other interests led him to achieve the posts of President of the Sussex Archaeological Society and Master of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers. He was a keen horseman and an active member of the Horsham and Crawley Hunt for many years.

Leslie's Garden Office at Hobshorts
Leslie in his Garden Office at Hobshorts

Leslie Weller was the first chairman of Chichester Cathedral Restoration Trust and over a period of thirty years played an important part in raising more than £10million for essential restoration work to the building and artworks within, including more recently the cathedral’s panel paintings by 16th century artist Lambert Barnard. For his services to the cathedral and contributions to the arts, Leslie was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List 2014.

Despite his numerous achievements, Leslie Weller was a modest man who will be remembered with great fondness by his many friends and acquaintances in our local community, Sussex as a whole and far beyond.

Leslie's Garden Office
Leslie's Garden Office

Company director Rupert Toovey comments: “Leslie was a generous friend and a great inspiration to me. He supported me in becoming a chartered surveyor in the specialist fields of fine art valuation and auctioneering and was delighted when I followed in his footsteps to become chairman of the R.I.C.S. Art and Antiques faculty. It was, therefore, a great honour to be asked by Leslie’s family to conduct this single-owner sale on their behalf.”

Sussex Horsfield extra-illustrated
Fine, extra-illustrated set of Horsfield's Sussex
EH Shepard Original drawing for sale
E.H. Shepard original drawing from Everybody's Pepys

Leslie lived at Hobshorts, a fine 17th century farmhouse in the West Grinstead countryside, with his wife, Brenda, and their dogs. His library was divided between two rooms in the main house and his private office, which was in a charming converted outhouse in the garden, offering a picturesque view across a pond to the South Downs. Leslie’s books reflect all his varied interests and they were very important to him indeed. The sale features a good selection of works on his beloved Sussex, including a fine copy of Thomas Walker Horsfield’s “The History, Antiquities, and Topography of the County of Sussex”, printed at the Sussex Press in Lewes in 1835. Usually in two volumes, this copy was extended to seven in 1892 with about 1500 extra illustrations. Bound in deep purple morocco by Zaehnsdorf, the set will carry a pre-sale estimate of £3000-5000.

An original drawing by the celebrated Sussex book illustrator Ernest H. Shepard leads a collection of other personal effects from Leslie’s library to be included in the sale. Originally published in “Everybody’s Pepys”, this 28 x 18cm pen and ink drawing will be offered with a pre-sale estimate of £600-1000. Other of Leslie’s possessions to be auctioned include maps, a barograph, a globe and two of his gavels.

The sale is on view on Saturday 29th November 2014, from 9.30am to 12noon, Monday 1st December 2014, from 10am to 4pm, and on the day of the auction, Tuesday 2nd December 2014, from 9am to the start of the sale at 11am.

The catalogue will be available in print and online at www.tooveys.com by mid-November.

January, in the works published by the Bodley Head

The illustration January by Robert Gibbings from The Twelve Months

Authors over the centuries have reflected on the seasons in prose and poetry. In the 1930s and 1940s the Private Press movement brought together author and artist to give expression to the rhythms of nature and the weather of the seasons. The two books illustrated were both produced by The Bodley Head publishing house as limited editions with woodblock-engraved illustrations.

The first book, The Twelve Months, was illustrated by the Irish artist and author Robert Gibbings; the text was written by the British novelist and essayist Llewelyn Powys. Robert Gibbings was most noted for his work as a wood engraver and sculptor. Gibbings purchased and ran the Golden Cockerel Press from 1923 to 1933 and influenced the revival of wood engraving by artists. In 1920 he founded the Society of Wood Engravers. Members working in Sussex included Eric Gill, John Nash, Lucien Pissarro, John Nash, Gwen Raverat and Eric Ravilious. The society ignited a revival of wood engravings where the designs and the blocks were created by the artist, making that vital connection between the artist and the final print.

The Twelve Months was published in 1936. This copy, with original green morocco binding, was signed by both artist and author and editioned 44/100. The signed page also notes that the book was printed on Wolvercote Rag Wove paper by John Johnson at the University Press, Oxford, acknowledging everyone involved in the creative process. The essay on January opens with a quotation from William Shakespeare:

'The Twelve Months' and 'Almanack of Hope', published by The Bodley Head.

“When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
To-whit!
To-who!-a merry note.”

The chill and cheer of the winter season, captured in Shakespeare’s words, is brought up to date by Robert Gibbings’ depiction of skating. The angular line of the rushes and the open spaces in the composition emphasise the harshness of the season. This is contrasted by the sweeping curves of the skaters and the hills, which are softer and more hopeful.

The second book, Almanack of Hope, published in 1944 by The Bodley Head, contains a series of sonnets on the months of the year by the British journalist and writer John Pudney. He was known for short stories, poetry, children’s fiction and non-fiction. His sonnet for January provides a more uncompromising articulation of the month of January, though he ends with the sentence:

The illustration January by John Nash from Almanack of Hope.

“So I in January look for grace, Iron-fast by season, lack-love, boughs all bare.”

John Nash’s wood engraving echoes the author’s words. Here the water butt and drainpipe have overflowed and the water has frozen in jagged outline, echoed by the undressed trees outlined against the sky. The aconite flowers appear hopeful but are poisonous; this is a bleak season.

This winter, Sussex has been ravaged by some bleak weather. The wind and rain have transformed the landscape and one can’t help but wonder how Robert Gibbings and John Nash would have depicted these scenes.

In years gone by, writers would note that as the days in January lengthened, so the cold increased. Perhaps we have already had our share of winter this year but if the cold does come, let’s hope it arrives with the good cheer a beautiful book can bring.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 15th January 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Inspired by the Countryside and the Changing Seasons

England’s changing seasons and landscape afford a particularly generous accompaniment to my life in Sussex. The artist Clare Leighton shared this delight in the rhythms of nature and the countryside.

A Lap Full of Windfalls from Four Hedges
‘A Lap Full of Windfalls’ from Four Hedges: A Gardener’s Chronicle

In the early part of the 20th century there was a revival of wood engraving in Britain. The softness of line and the strength of contrast in the black and white seemed to articulate something particular to a generation of people who were united in their experience of war. Clare Leighton belonged to this movement and generation. Today she is highly regarded by art historians and collectors. Her work combines a deep understanding of life and love, informed by her Christian faith, with a captivating simplicity and honesty. Many of her compositions are characterized by the use of a series of underlying curves, which at once unite the subjects in her pictures while giving a quality of journeying and movement.

Against some opposition from her family, Clare Leighton persuaded her parents to allow her to attend the Brighton School of Art. From there she went to the Slade School of Art, where she studied under Sir Henry Tonks between 1923 and 1924. Needing to earn a living, she left the Slade and enrolled for evening classes at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. She was friends with Hilaire Belloc, who lived at Shipley windmill near Horsham, and Eric Gill, who was at this point living in Ditchling.

Before the war she wrote and illustrated a series of books, which included The Farmer’s Year (1933) and Four Hedges: A Gardener’s Chronicle (1935). They reflect her fondness for the countryside and her empathy with rural workers and their husbandry. Although her work is modern, it follows in the rich tradition of English Romanticism.

‘April, Sowing’ from The Farmer’s Year
‘April, Sowing’ from The Farmer’s Year
The Fat Stock Market
‘The Fat Stock Market’ from ‘December’ in The Farmer’s Year

Nicholas Toovey heads the pictures and books departments at Toovey’s. With an interest in both these fields of collecting, it is understandable why this artist should particularly appeal to him. “I have long admired Clare Leighton’s work,” says Nick. “She was part of the revival of wood engraving at the start of the 20th century. It fascinates me that from only two colours, black and white, an artist can create a sense of light, movement, tone and hue.” Nick’s thoughts resonate with Leighton’s own reflections on the art of creating a woodblock engraving. She wrote, “The discipline of engraving is demanding, and for a perfectionist, exhaustingly so. Harnessed to this need is to interpret colour and tone through the limitation of black and white.”

In Clare Leighton’s ‘April, Sowing’ from The Farmer’s Year, the curve of the sower’s posture implies movement and unites him with the folds of the hills beneath the scudding clouds, which are reflected in the river. Leighton carves her woodblock with great skill and delicacy, creating mass, light and shade through the use of crosshatching. The curved compositional forms and quality of tone are again beautifully illustrated in ‘A Lap Full of Windfalls’ from Four Hedges: A Gardener’s Chronicle.

Nicholas Toovey with a first edition of Clare Leighton’s The Farmer’s Year from 1933

Nick draws my attention to ‘The Fat Stock Market’ from ‘December’ in The Farmer’s Year and says, “Leighton’s execution of carved line is always so precise. For the wood engraver there is no possibility of changing a mistake; once a line is engraved it must stay. There is a directness in the depiction of this livestock market and a strong feeling of empathy with these stewards of the land on this dark and damp December day. The black and white provides this scene with a real sense of drama.”

Here is an artist connected with her life and times, the countryside and its people, all of which inspired her to give expression to life and love through her woodblock prints.

Clare Leighton’s decision to emigrate to America in 1939 was bound up with her decision to end her relationship with the journalist and writer Henry Noel Brailsford. She settled in North Carolina and enjoyed a full artistic career, which included teaching at Duke University. Clare Leighton’s work is represented in many national collections, including the British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Nick and I are excited that Toovey’s is supporting the exhibition Clare Leighton: Working Life, which has just opened at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. This excellent show has been organised by Simon Martin and provides a wonderful opportunity to see a breadth of Clare Leighton’s work. It runs until 24th February 2014; for further information go to www.pallant.org.uk.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 18th December 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November…

Concilium Septem Nobilium Anglorum Coniurantium in Necem Jacobi I, blog.tooveys.com
Concilium Septem Nobilium Anglorum Coniurantium in Necem Jacobi I (The Gunpowder Plotters conspiring), monochrome engraving by Crispijn van de Passe the Elder, circa 1605, auctioned at Toovey’s for £700.

Bonfire Night is an event that many of us look forward to with a sense of excitement and anticipation. The beauty of sparkling light, the whizzes, pops and bangs, the mist of drifting smoke and the smell of gunpowder on a cold, still November night are, for me, truly evocative. As a nation, fireworks also form part of our celebrations of major occasions: the New Year, Royal Jubilees and the Olympics, to name but a few. Amidst our excitement, though, it is easy to forget that fireworks on Bonfire Night commemorate a particularly bloody and turbulent time in our island’s history.

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 is widely regarded as an attempt by provincial, English Roman Catholics to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament, in order to assassinate James I of England (VI of Scotland) and install his nine-year-old daughter, Princess Elizabeth, on the throne as a Roman Catholic head of state. The plot, led by Robert Catesby, was revealed by means of an anonymous letter. Famously, Guy Fawkes was discovered with thirty-six barrels of gunpowder during a search of the House of Lords at midnight on 4th November 1605. He and his seven surviving accomplices were tortured, tried for and convicted of high treason and sentenced to death by hanging, drawing and quartering.

The print shown here was published around 1605 by a leading Dutch printmaker, Crispijn van de Passe the Elder, and shows eight of the thirteen conspirators, including Guy Fawkes. A copy of this print is in the National Portrait Gallery, London. It is an extraordinary depiction of some of those involved, giving life to this particular moment in history.

Traitors,-Garnet-a-Jesuite-and-his-Confederats, blog.tooveys.com
A True and Perfect Relation of the Whole Proceedings against the late most barbarous Traitors, Garnet a Jesuite and his Confederats, first edition, published by Robert Barker, London 1606, auctioned at Toovey’s for £350.

The book illustrated is a first edition of A True and Perfect Relation of the Whole Proceedings against the late most barbarous Traitors, Garnet a Jesuite and his Confederats, which tells the story of the Gunpowder Plot. Published in 1606, it is the earliest account of these events and centres on the story of the Roman Catholic priest Henry Garnet, who was hung, drawn and quartered in connection with the Gunpowder Plot. Many historians believe that having heard of the plot during confession, Garnet felt bound to tell no one. Instead, they claim, he wrote secretly to Rome, urging the Vatican to dissuade Catholics from such action but, sadly, there was no response to his plea. When fear overtakes understanding and tolerance, it is often innocent and good people who bear the consequences. Toovey’s were fortunate enough to auction this volume some years ago. Many of you will remember Brocks Fireworks and, rather wonderfully, the book had once been the property of the late Frank Arthur Brock, director of the firm in the early 1900s.

It is the cause for much celebration, especially for me as an Anglican priest, that these prejudices and misunderstandings are broadly behind us and that Christian people of all denominations now journey together, holding their differences, and one another, in a spirit of love, rather than fear.

Eileen Soper November 5th blog.tooveys.com
November the Fifth, monochrome etching by Eileen A. Soper, auctioned at Toovey’s for £320.

The delightful Eileen Soper monochrome etching shown probably best captures our contemporary experience of Bonfire Night. Eileen Soper illustrated wildlife and children’s books for many authors, including Enid Blyton. Her etchings often depict children and in this example, titled November the Fifth, their faces, lit by the sparklers against the night sky, display wonder and excitement.

It is vital that, as a nation, we guard against replacing past animosities with new mistrust and prejudice between faiths and peoples. If we do not, it will be the innocent who bear the consequences. Perhaps Bonfire Night can be a time to acknowledge the contemporary diversity in our ancient nation in a spirit of fondness and celebration.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 6th November 2013 in the West Sussex Gazette.

The Percy Cox Archive at Toovey’s Auctioneers

Percy Cox
Percy Cox seated at his desk, compiler of the fascinating archive

Advance notice of a fascinating archive to be sold at Toovey’s Fine Art and Antique Auctioneers.

Winston Churchill's presentation copies to Percy Cox
Lot 3271. Winston Churchill's presentation copies to Percy Cox

Toovey’s Specialist Sale of Paper Collectables includes The Percy Cox Archive. This interesting archive of material relating to the Churchill family will be sold at Toovey’s Spring Gardens auction rooms in West Sussex. The archive will be offered in two lots as follows:

Lot 3271. CHURCHILL, Winston Leonard Spencer. A History of the English-Speaking Peoples. London: Cassell and Company Ltd., 1956-1958. First edition, 4 vols., 8vo (242 x 152mm.) Occasional maps. (Some spotting.) Original cloth (extremities lightly bumped). Provenance: Percy Walter Cox (presentation inscriptions signed by the author to front-free endpaper of vols. I & II, signature to half-title of vol. III and presentation inscription to preliminary blank of vol. IV); and thence by descent. Note: part of The Percy Cox Archive.

Lot 3272. THE CHURCHILL FAMILY. – Sir Winston Leonard Spencer CHURCHILL (1874-1965), Clementine Ogilvy Spencer CHURCHILL, Baroness SPENCER-CHURCHILL (1885-1977), Mary SOAMES, Baroness SOAMES, and others. A small archive of photographs, telegrams, autograph letters, signed letters, notes and cards, most relating to the Churchill family’s relationship with Percy Cox, O.B.E., circa 1945-1974. Provenance: Percy Walter Cox and thence by descent. Note: Percy Cox (1888-1975), was the Estates Manager at the Churchills’ home, Chartwell, in Kent in the late 1940s and the 1950s. This interesting archive throws some light on Mr Cox’s work for Sir Winston Churchill and the personal esteem in which he and his wife were held by Winston, his wife, Clementine, and their youngest daughter, Mary. Further details on the contents of this archive are available on request.