From the Bowes to the Wallace

El Greco to Goya – Spanish Masterpieces from The Bowes Museum, The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, W1, until 7th January 2018

Jose Antolinez
The Immaculate Conception, 1650-75
Credit @ The Bowes Museum

While we usually think of the Wallace Collection as a haven of French 18th century art and taste it is of course much more than that as its works by Murillo and Velazquez testify. It is therefore appropriate that this group of Spanish paintings, spanning three centuries, should come on loan from the Bowes Museum in County Durham and mark the start of a partnership between these two remarkable places. The museums have similar origins as they are both the gifts of illegitimate sons of aristocratic fathers to the British nation.

Francisco Jose Goya
Interior of a Prison, 1793-94
Credit @ The Bowes Museum

Xavier Bray, Director of the host museum says: “El Greco to Goya is not only an unprecedented opportunity to see Spanish art of extraordinary power and significance in London, but also the beginning of an exciting relationship between the Wallace Collection and The Bowes Museum. Both institutions share a commitment to making great art accessible to wider audiences and we are looking forward to working closely together to develop a long term connection between London and the North East.”

Domenikos Theotokopoulos ‘El Greco’
The Tears of St Peter, 1580-89
Credit @ The Bowes Museum

His counterpart at the Bowes Museum, Adrian Jenkins, says: “In 1892, when The Bowes Museum first opened its doors to the public, it had the largest public collection of Spanish paintings in the UK. As we mark 125 years since the creation of the museum, it is highly appropriate that the key works from this collection should be shared with London audiences, in keeping with John and Joséphine Bowes’ belief that great art should be made accessible to all. Neither John nor Joséphine Bowes survived to realise their vision, and they would be delighted to think that the best of their acquisitions would be shown at the Wallace Collection during this anniversary year, recognising that their gift to the people of County Durham is also a gift to the nation.”

Well worth a peek!

Antonio Pereda y Salgado
Tobias Restoring his Father’s Sight, 1652
Credit @ The Bowes Museum

wallacecollection.org / @WallaceMuseum / #ElGrecotoGoya

The Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer

The Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer (1929-2016), Christie’s King Street, London SW1, Old Masters Evening Sale (6th July 2017) and The Collection of Raine, Countess Spencer (13thJuly 2017)

Interior
From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017

I count myself fortunate in having encountered Raine, Countess Spencer several times over the years and she was always the epitome of elegance and charm. That sense of style is very much reflected in her home, the contents of which are to be found in these sales. While the paintings, furniture and objects contributed to the glamour of the rooms they were not mere ‘background’ objects but were bought because Lady Spencer liked them and wanted to live with and use them.

Interior
From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017

She was very much drawn to the arts of 18th century France and numbered works by Boucher, Fragonard and Greuze among the pictures she collected. On some purchases she was advised by Sir Francis Watson (former Director of the Wallace Collection) who also advised the Wrightsmans with their legendary collection. Regency furniture was another love and it blended well with her French pieces. Her last dining room recalled the Art Deco period and there was also a collection of French Art Nouveau lithographs.

Interior
From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017

From her birth – she was the daughter of the novelist Dame Barbara Cartland – onwards Lady Spencer was the focus of media interest whether through her marriages or her work as a Westminster City Councillor and in the conservationist campaigns she supported. In later years she was a director of Harrods and had a hands-on approach. The thread of perfectionism that runs through her life is also reflected in her clothes, jewellery and other accessories in the 13th July auction. This is very much an opportunity to appreciate, enjoy or even acquire a piece of the elegant perfection that was Lady Spencer’s way of life.

Claude Joseph Vernet (Avignon 1714-1789 Paris)
A Mediterranean sea-port with fishermen unloading cargo
oil on canvas
Estimate: £300,000-500,000
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017

 

A LOUIS XVI COMMODE
CIRCA 1770-75, ATTRIBUTED TO ANTOINE-PIERRE FOULLET
Estimate: £60,000-90,000
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017

 

Interior
From the property of Lady Spencer © Christie’s Images Limited 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN 18 CARAT GOLD, RUBY AND DIAMOND PARURE, BY VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
Comprising a necklace, designed as a graduated series of ruby cabochon and brilliant-cut diamond clusters
Estimate: £100,000-150,000
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017

 

One of several ‘Lady Dior’ handbags, this one of black leather with studwork decoration.
Estimate: £1,000-1,500
© Christie’s Images Limited 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.christies.com

Stunning objects!

Gilded Interiors: French Masterpieces of Gilt Bronze, The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, W1, until 30th July 2017

F292: Perfume Burner,
Pierre Gouthière, 1774 – 1775, detail.
© The Wallace Collection

We probably all have a vision of what an 18th century French interior may look like – white and gold panelling, commodes, chairs, sumptuous fabrics, tapestries or paintings, and gilded objects such as clocks or candelabra. The latter are probably the items we pay least attention too but you most certainly won’t after visiting this SUPERB exhibition.

F269: Mantel clock,
Jean-Baptiste Lepaute, 1781, detail.
© The Wallace Collection

We are able to study these objects closely and see the great attention to detail and the exquisite chasing and gilding techniques used. Two of the items on show belonged to Marie Antoinette. The comte d’Artois, the duc d’Aumont and the Prince Regent are other important patrons and clients from the 18th century whom you will discover. Only one of the wondrous pieces does not come from the Wallace Collection and that is a pair of firedogs bought by the future George IV.  They are included because they are the same model as a pair owned by the 4th Marquess of Hertford in his Paris home*.

F131: Candelabrum,
Possibly François Rémond, France, 1783 – 1786
© The Wallace Collection

These gilded wonders, which were such an important and integral part of the homes of the great and wealthy 18th century patrons, are the creation of artists such as Pierre Gouthière, François Rémond and Claude Pition and are important examples of 18th century French taste and stunning works of art in their own right.

F164: Candlestick,
Claude-Jean Pitoin, 1781, detail.
© The Wallace Collection

The exhibition is curated by Dr Helen Jacobsen, Senior Curator and Curator of French Eighteenth-century Decorative Arts at the Wallace Collection who has also written a book on this aspect of the Collection which I shall return to later.  She has also borrowed 18th century drawings from the Bibliothèque Municipale in Besançon which are by the noted architect and designer of interiors Pierre-Adrien Pâris and they reveal how Ancient Rome was a source of inspiration while others show how that inspiration was enacted upon.

F317: Table,
attributed to François Rémond, 1785 – 1787, detail.
© The Wallace Collection

I have now visited the exhibition three times but will return again and again because each time you see new details and appreciate even more the perfection of 18th century French decorative arts.

F258: Mantel clock, The Avignon Clock,
Pierre Gouthière, France, 1771
© The Wallace Collection

 

* This was not part of Sir Richard Wallace’s bequest and they are now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

 

http://www.wallacecollection.org

BOOK REVIEW: Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court

Pierre Gouthière: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court

gouthiere-lo-res-frontcover

Christian Baulez and Charlotte Vignon. Contributions by Anne Forray-Carlier, Joseph Godla, Helen Jacobsen, Luisa Penalva and Emmanuel Sarméo

UK£54.95 / US$79.95
ISBN — 978-1-907804-61-8
Published by GILES in association with the Frick Collection

 

This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in 18th century French decorative arts and interiors. Published to accompany an exhibition – just closed at the Frick Museum but opening in Paris on March 16th – it is a detailed consideration of Gouthière’s work in every way.

9781907804618_interior_03

The essays by leading experts and scholars reveal his life and work; the architects and designers for whom he worked for and the craftsmen he used for the production of the finished commissions. There is a fascinating section on techniques and skills used in the creation of these stunning mounts.  Indeed Gouthière is believed to have invented dorure au mat – a matt finish for which his work is noted. The last essay considers the appeal of Gouthière’s name to 19th century British collectors and how things were often wrongly attributed to him.

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The last major work on Gouthière was published in 1912 and so this beautifully illustrated volume is extremely welcome, especially as it includes a catalogue raisonné of the forty-nine pieces that are definitely attributable to him. It’s interesting to note that he only once made furniture mounts and that was for a jewellery cabinet for Marie Antoinette which was sold after the French Revolution and most probably dismantled. I also hadn’t realised that he worked in silver-gilt on a dessert service and toilette set.

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It is sad to think that Gouthière (1732-1813) never regained the popularity he enjoyed up until the French Revolution in his lifetime but this book allows us to fully understand and appreciate just quite how talented a man he was and what a stunning legacy he left for us to enjoy today. While I will probably not get to see the exhibition I am more than consoled by the fact that I have a copy of the book – possibly the next best thing to owning a Gouthière piece!

The authors: Charlotte Vignon is Curator of Decorative Arts at The Frick Collection, New York. Christian Baulez is an historian of French 18th-century decorative arts and architecture and former Chief Curator at the Château de Versailles. Anne Forray-Carlier is Chief Curator of 17th- and 18th-Century Decorative Arts at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. Joseph Godla is Chief Conservator at The Frick Collection. Helen Jacobsen is Chief Curator at the Wallace Collection, London. Luisa Penalva is Curator of Gold, Silver, and Jewelry Collections at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon. Anna Saratowicz-Dudyńska is Curator of Silver and Bronze at the Royal Castle, Warsaw. Emmanuel Sarméo is an independent scholar.

gouthiere-0422-9-1

Paris Exhibition: Or virtuose a la cour de France: Pierre Gouthière (1732-1813) will open at the Musée des Arts décoratifs,, 16th March – 25th June 2017.

gilesltd.com

Tom Ellis at the Wallace Collection

The Middle – Tom Ellis at the Wallace Collection, The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, W1, until 27th November 2016

The Middle- Tom Ellis at the Wallace Collection

The Middle- Tom Ellis at the Wallace Collection

This intriguing exhibition starts on this prestigious Museum’s front lawn and then inside occupies the Front State Room and the downstairs exhibition gallery.  The Museum’s own collections have inspired contemporary artist Tom Ellis (b1973) to create these site specific works. His large-scale paintings with their recurring motif of a shoemaker are inspired by work by Teniers the Younger while his furniture is inspired by those 18th century French examples in the Collection which have transformative elements.

Front State Room The Middle- Tom Ellis at the Wallace Collection

Front State Room
The Middle- Tom Ellis at the Wallace Collection

The installation’s title reflects the unresolved nature of the works and the idea that the museum is neither a fully domestic or public space.  The third inspiration comes from the writer Samuel Beckett who was interested in the idea of the unresolved and open-endedness that can be found in art.  Beckett, a frequent visitor to the Wallace in 1935, also shared Ellis’s love of Dutch paintings.

Exhibition Room The Middle- Tom Ellis at the Wallace Collection

Exhibition Room
The Middle- Tom Ellis at the Wallace Collection

http://www.wallacecollection.org

 

The Wallace Collection on Canvas

Alan Kingsbury RWA ‘The Charms of Life’, Panter & Hall, 11-12 Pall Mall, London SW1, 11th – 27th November 2015

Alan Kingsbury RWA The Charms of Life oil on canvas 60 x 40 ins (152 x 102 cms) Photography by Simon Cook

Alan Kingsbury RWA
The Charms of Life
oil on canvas
60 x 40 ins (152 x 102 cms)
Photography by Simon Cook

The viewers and the lucky purchasers of these works can have no doubt that Alan Kingsbury has a warm affection for the treasures of art which make up the stunning Wallace Collection here in London.

Alan Kingsbury RWA Sevres through Red and Gold oil on canvas 54 x 50 ins (137 x 127 cms Photography by Simon Cook

Alan Kingsbury RWA
Sevres through Red and Gold
oil on canvas
54 x 50 ins (137 x 127 cms
Photography by Simon Cook

Kingsbury has been a fan of the Collection since he was a student and he has most evocatively translated his admiration for the rooms, furniture, porcelain, bronzes and paintings into these large-scale works.  They capture a spirit of intimacy which reminds us that indeed Hertford House was a family home, albeit enriched with great treasures.

Alan Kingsbury RWA Mercury oil on canvas 70 x 50 ins (178 x 127 cms) Photography by Simon Cook

Alan Kingsbury RWA
Mercury
oil on canvas
70 x 50 ins (178 x 127 cms)
Photography by Simon Cook

While in many ways to me this is a perfect show, for I too love the Wallace Collection, I shall leave the last word to Matthew Hall: ‘For me, Alan is undoubtedly one of the greatest figurative paintings of his generation.  In an age when the London commercial art scene is annually suffocated by the numbing homogeneity of the latest Florentine graduates, Alan’s paintings and talent scream integrity and substance.’

Alan Kingsbury RWA New Age oil on canvas 50 x 60 ins (127 x 152 cms) Photography by Simon Cook

Alan Kingsbury RWA
New Age
oil on canvas
50 x 60 ins (127 x 152 cms)
Photography by Simon Cook

 

Alan Kingsbury RWA Cornucopia oil on canvas 52 x 50 ins (132 x 127 cms Photography by Simon Cook

Alan Kingsbury RWA
Cornucopia
oil on canvas
52 x 50 ins (132 x 127 cms
Photography by Simon Cook

 

Alan Kingsbury RWA Constellation II oil on canvas 50 x 40 ins (127 x 102 cms)

Alan Kingsbury RWA
Constellation II
oil on canvas
50 x 40 ins (127 x 102 cms)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alan Kingsbury RWA Room in Pink and Gold oil on canvas 70 x 50 ins (178 x 127 cms) Photography by Simon Cook

Alan Kingsbury RWA
Room in Pink and Gold
oil on canvas
70 x 50 ins (178 x 127 cms)
Photography by Simon Cook

 

 

http://www.panterandhall.com

The Colours of the Human Soul

Marco Lusini: The Colours of the Human Soul, Fiumano Fine Art, 27 Connaught Street, London W2, 4th – 7th July 2015
Marco Lusini  Untitled – from Oneiric Landscapes | Acrylic | 80 x 90 cm | 1982 | Private Collection

Marco Lusini
Untitled – from Oneiric Landscapes | Acrylic | 80 x 90 cm | 1982 | Private Collection

Marco Lusini (1936-1989) did not initially set out to be a painter but arrived there through a process that involved working in various artistic media.  He found inspiration for his paintings in the works of the French poet Rimbaud, the plays of  Bertolt Brecht  and in the Sicilian landscape at Pantalica.  The pictures have strong colours which are a perfect foil for his exploration of the concepts of loneliness, asexuality, melancholy and nature.
Marco Lusini  Untitled – (late 1970s) – Lithograph – 50x70cm – Private Collection

Marco Lusini
Untitled – (late 1970s) – Lithograph – 50x70cm – Private Collection

It is no surprise that he has been an inspiration to younger generations.  Lusini said of his works “I want to leave the viewer free to explore my artwork, listen to his own emotions, embrace them and find his own answers”.  An invitation that is still readily taken up today.
There is a small exhibition of his works running concurrently at the American West Valley Art Museum of Arizona in the United States.
Marco Lusini  Untitled – from Oneiric Landscapes | Acrylic | 80 x 80 cm | 1982 | Private Collection

Marco Lusini
Untitled – from Oneiric Landscapes | Acrylic | 80 x 80 cm | 1982 | Private Collection