Maggi Hambling and Max Wall

Maggi Hambling., CBE, ‘Max Sitting (no.9)’, oil, signed and dated 1982

An important portrait by the leading British artist Maggi Hambling, from her famous Max Wall series of portraits, is to be auctioned at Toovey’s on Wednesday 19th June 2019.

Maggi Hambling was the artist in residence at the National Gallery in London during 1980 and 1981 as her work grew in confidence and power. It was during this time that she went to see Max Wall at the Garrick Theatre for the first time.

Max Wall’s public life as a clown and entertainer was in contrast to his often unhappy and disrupted private life.

In the summer of 1981 Max Wall played Vladimir in Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ to much acclaim in the Royal Exchange production at the Round House. Hambling went to see him in the role on four or five occasions and began to work out a series of pictures based on his performance. As Max sat for her Maggi’s portraits of him became more intimate and insightful. Although they corresponded between October 1981 and Easter 1982 they remained apart.

In his absence, Hambling completed three of her most impressive paintings in the series. Among these is the picture illustrated, ‘Max Sitting (no.9)’. The painting is an act of recapitulation. Hambling gives expression to a painting of dreams, recalling a dream where a white owl bursts through a pane of glass in an isolated, lonely house. Max sits dreaming, his cigarette smoke hangs in the air as he waits on his muse represented by the owl’s arrival. The challenges of his life are signified by the cat’s shadow as the floor veers off in a nightmarish way. Her use of colour to create mood and atmosphere and the rendering of his features acts as though the portrait is a mirror into his soul. It gives voice to her concern for the individual human predicament.

Hambling would recall “At Easter 1982, Max reappeared and posed for drawings. After painting so long from my internal image of him, it was a traumatic experience to have him in front of me again, and to work from life.” Max thought it was marvellous that he should inspire Hambling in this way.

This powerful portrait would be reproduced on the cover of the exhibition catalogue for ‘Max Wall Pictures by Maggi Hambling’ at London’s National Portrait Gallery in 1983.

It was a measure of Hambling’s status as an artist when, in 1986, ‘Max Sitting (no.9)’ was hung alongside her fellow London Group artists, including Frank Auerbach, Peter Blake, Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Ron B. Kitaj at Manchester’s Whitworth Gallery in the ‘Artist and Model’ exhibition.

This important work will be auctioned at Toovey’s as part of their sale of fine paintings on Wednesday 19th June 2019 with a presale estimate of £10,000-£15,000. For more information telephone Nicholas Toovey on 01903 891955.

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.

£80,000 Old Master at Toovey’s

Pierre Subleyras’ 18th century oil on canvas, Half Length Study of Saint Jerome, measuring 64.5cm x 47cm, sold for £80,000 at Toovey’s

An early 18th century Old Master oil study of St Jerome by the French artist Pierre Subleyras (1699-1749) has just sold at Toovey’s for £80,000.

The painting had been known to Toovey’s head of fine art, Nicholas Toovey, for many years before it was recently consigned for sale. Quality and provenance with Old Master paintings is always important and this painting was purchased by the family from the prestigious Hazlitt Gallery in London in the 1960s.

Pierre Subleyras was born in Saint Gilles du Gard in Provence. He moved permanently to Rome in 1728 having won the Prix de Rome in 1727 painting a variety of subjects including still lifes and portraits. However, it is his religious paintings which are most highly regarded. They are notably more serious in tone than many French works of the Rococo period.

He attracted the attention of many prominent patrons painting a portrait of Pope Benedict XIV. The Pope would commission Subleyras to paint both ‘The Marriage of St Catherine’ and the ‘Ecstasy of St Camilla’ for his private apartments.

Subleyras’ talent as an incisive portraitist is brilliantly employed in this study of St Jerome which is heavily influenced by the solemnity of 17th century Italian Baroque. The study contrasts with the early 18th century French taste for the playful Rococo which developed in reaction to the Baroque which preceded it.

Subleyras’ study is beautifully considered showing St Jerome’s concern and wonder as he is blessed with a vision from God. It is a subject the artist would return to on several occasions. The paint is applied in a series of thin washes using oil glazes which lends the work a remarkable depth and life particularly to the face and skin.

Cardinal Valenti Gongoza arranged the commissioning of the ‘Mass of St Basil’ for St Peter’s in Rome. This huge painting was highly acclaimed when it was unveiled in 1748. It can still be seen at St Maria degli Angeli in Rome. But Subleyras was too exhausted by overwork to enjoy the success of his most famous work. He moved to Naples seeking respite but returned to Rome and died soon after on 28th May 1749.

Today Pierre Subleyras’ work is represented in many of the world’s international collections including the National Gallery, London and the Louvre, Paris.

Entries are already being received by Toovey’s for their next curated sale of fine art which will be held on Wednesday 28th November 2018. Nicholas Toovey is always keen to share his passion for art with collectors. If you would like his advice Nicholas can be contacted by telephoning 01903 891955 or at

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.

Thomas and Friends at Toovey’s

Lot 93 original Timothy Marwood illustration

Thomas the Tank Engine and friends Percy, Harold and Annie are just a few of the friendly and nostalgic faces on offer in our December auctions. Add into the mix Noddy, Big Ears, Popeye, Winnie the Pooh and the Bunnykins rabbits and you have quite an eclectic children’s tea party! As a book specialist I see numerous collections of children’s literature, often collected on the merits of their illustrators alone. However, there are numerous avenues available at auction to explore and delight in children’s illustration beyond the medium of printed literature.

Lot 94 original Timothy Marwood illustration

Timothy Marwood, Barbara Vernon Bailey and Robert Tyndall are three quite different artists who open doors into alternative fields of collecting through their engagement with childhood imagination.

Timothy Marwood was an illustrator for the Thomas and Friends magazines from 1987-2007, published by Marvel Comics until issue #305 in 1999. Although not classically considered a Marvel comic, the legacy of Thomas and Friends was interestingly hinted at with a Thomas the Tank Engine cameo in the 2015 Marvel film Ant Man. The director Peyton Reed, when interviewed about the inclusion of the cartoon train, emphasised Thomas’ status as a locomotive icon, ‘you could do any kind of toy train, but the personality of that thing and the eyes moving back and forth give it a whole vibe and took it to another level.’ There were also strict stipulations put in place to ensure ‘nobody could be tied to the tracks and run over by Thomas. Thomas couldn’t be doing anything that could be perceived by children as evil Thomas’, highlighting the importance of his childlike innocence to the Thomas brand. Marwood’s pen and ink illustrations included in Toovey’s December auction of Fine Art encapsulate the heroism and kindness represented by Thomas and Friends without the need of accompanying text [lots 93-96]. Any child’s bedroom would be improved with an original Marwood drawing of a rescue from Harold the Helicopter. Timothy Marwood also illustrated issues of Rosie & Jim, Thunderbirds and Enid Blyton’s The Secret Seven and The Famous Five.

Lot 99 original Robert Tyndall illustration

If you marvel over Blyton’s literary creations, why not take an imaginary trip to Toytown with an original Robert Tyndall watercolour of Noddy and his buddy Big Ears (Lot 99) Tyndall lived in Hove and, like Marwood, was trained at the prestigious Harrow School of Art before illustrating Roberta Leigh’s The Adventures of Twizzle and the Larry the Lamb series. It was only after the death of Harmsen Van Der Beek, Noddy’s original illustrator, that Tyndall got his chance in 1953 to draw this charming Blyton character. For Noddy’s 60th birthday in 2009, Tyndall collaborated with Blyton’s granddaughter Sophie Smallwood to produce the first Noddy book since 1963, ‘Noddy and the Farmyard Muddle’.

Lot 97 original Barbara Vernon Bailey illustration

If a jolly jape to Toyland isn’t for you, perhaps the fluffy delights of Bunnykins are more up your street? Unlike Thomas and Noddy, the creation of Bunnykins stemmed from the imagination of one woman, Barbara Vernon Bailey. Some may find these rabbits whimsical; others might find merit in their depictions of nostalgic close-knit family life. What can be certain, however, is their great wit and character. Most familiar with ceramics will recognise the popular Royal Doulton Bunnykins figures [lot 1512], but more unusual are Vernon Bailey’s original watercolours, of which there are a choice of two available in our Fine Art December auction. Just try resisting the charms of leapfrogging rabbits (Lot 97) and an animal delivery service where a sparrow distributes the post to a rabbit in his top-floor treehouse apartment (Lot 98). What could be more magical than the thought of Sister Barbara, a nun-artist from Haywards Heath, drawing and painting by candlelight rabbits cooking, dancing and kissing under the mistletoe? It was these sentimental touches that make her illustrations so appealing and reproducible to the present day, not only for figures in three dimensions, but also for narrative decoration on children’s tableware.

If you enjoy indulging in a touch of nostalgia, you can also let your imagination run wild exploring over two hundred lots of collectors’ toys, dolls and games in our forthcoming December sale. While beautiful printed copies of childhood classics can be purchased in our specialist antiquarian book sales, it is worth considering the other objects of art and material culture they inspire to enrich any home or collection.

Franz Sedlacek Secessionist Painting for Sale at Toovey’s Auction

'Blüten und Insekten Nr. 3' by Franz Sedlacek ~ Secessionist Painting to be offered at Toovey's Auction

An oil on panel by Franz Sedlacek, one of Austria’s most prominent artists during the 1920s and ’30s, will be offered in Toovey’s sale of Fine Art on the morning of Wednesday 17th June 2015.

Franz Sedlacek was born in Breslau in 1891 and moved with his family to Linz when he was six. He displayed a talent for art from an early age but went on to study architecture, then chemistry in Vienna. He continued to develop his drawing and painting skills, though, and in 1913 co-founded an artists’ association in Linz. His studies were interrupted by a period of service in the First World War, but he returned to complete them and started work at the Technical Museum of Vienna in 1921.

In the subsequent years, Sedlacek began to concentrate on oil painting and in 1927 joined the Vienna Secession, a group of painters, sculptors and architects who had broken away from the Association of Austrian Artists. Formed in 1897, the group’s first president was the notable symbolist painter Gustav Klimt. The Secessionists sought originality in the visual arts, unencumbered by the traditions of academia or influences from the past.

Sedlacek’s style does not fit easily into a category but it is most often classed as belonging to the post-expressionist movement of New Objectivity (Neue Sachlichkeit). A dreamlike and sometimes nightmarish quality prevails in his paintings; strange figures and creatures inhabit unsettling interiors and exteriors. His scenes often suggest a hidden narrative and his compositions always convey a sense of drama.

Sedlacek went on to garner considerable critical acclaim and numerous awards. In 1939, however, he was recalled for military service with the Wehrmacht in the Second World War. After serving in Norway and Russia, he was listed as missing in Poland in 1945.

The work to be offered at Toovey’s is one of a number of works in which Franz Sedlacek explored the theme of fantastical flowers and insects and is titled Blüten und Insekten (Nr. 3) to a paper label on the reverse of the panel. The image area measures approximately 50.5cm high by 40cm wide and is signed with initials and dated 1935 at the bottom left corner. Sedlacek exhibited regularly with the Secessionists and the reverse also bears a label indicating that the painting was shown at the Vienna Secession’s autumn exhibition of the same year. The work will carry a pre-sale estimate of £50,000-80,000.

Provenance: local private ownership by inheritance.

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Outside In Christmas Charity Event at Toovey’s

This year, Toovey’s have chosen Pallant House Gallery’s pioneering project Outside In as the nominated charity for its Christmas Private View and Charity Auction. During our Christmas Private View on Monday 1st December 2014, Toovey’s, in collaboration with Pallant House Gallery, will be holding a charity auction of promises with a selection of exclusive lots to bid on, including a week’s break on the beautiful classic motor sailing yacht ‘Barracuda’, moored in Palma on the lovely island of Majorca.

The night will also host a Christmas Tree of Delights with gifts available for £20, £50 and £100 for those who would like to donate. As a backdrop to the evening and also in support of Outside In, a selling exhibition of works by acclaimed Sussex-based artists from Moncrieff-Bray Gallery will be on show and this will continue to run through the auction week at Toovey’s until Friday 5th December. Works available to purchase will include an oil on linen, titled ‘Clouds over Jura from Islay’, by Oona Campbell and two fine art photographs by Deborah Gourlay.

Oona Campbell's 'Clouds over Jura from Islay' available for £4200 in the selling exhibition to raise funds for Outside In

A selection of twelve works by award-winning Outside In artists will be on display on the evening too. These twelve works will be offered in Toovey’s Fine Art Auction on Wednesday 3rd December 2014 at 10am to raise further funds for Outside In. Danielle Hodson, David Jones, Jasna Nikolic, Kate Bradbury, Kwei Eden, Manuel Bonifacio, Matthew Sergison-Main, Michelle Roberts, Nigel Kingsbury, Peter Andrews and Phil Baird are the list of names all contributing to this auction.

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Outside In LogoOutside In was founded in 2006 by Pallant House Gallery to provide opportunities for artists with a desire to create who see themselves as facing a barrier to the art world for reasons including health, disability or social circumstance. The goal of the project is to create a fairer art world, which rejects traditional values and institutional judgements about whose work can and should be displayed. For more information visit the Outside In website by clicking here.

About Outside In, Toovey’s director Rupert Toovey commented: “It is really exciting to see traditional values and institutional judgements challenged, for people to be empowered and gifted with expression, rather than exclusion. I am delighted to be supporting this important work.”

If you would like a catalogue for the exhibition and auction, with more information about the works and artists, please contact Toovey’s or Pallant House Gallery.