We are delighted to publish our latest catalogue online. Amidst this difficult and disrupted year we hope the appearance of our annual catalogue of recent acquisitions is a welcome sign of continuity. Despite our normal activities having been somewhat curtailed, this catalogue covers the full range of our interests from the established to the esoteric, from John Constable to a remarkable set of collages. As ever, it is our shared passion for quality, be that beauty, academic interest or condition which has driven this selection.
John Constable’s cloud studies have long been recognised as some of the most immediate and compelling works of nineteenth-century European landscape painting and are concomitantly rare on the market, we are offering a particularly grand and impressive example. The Constable is joined by a fine, late watercolour by Turner and a complex, richly worked landscape drawing on blue paper by Thomas Gainsborough. Portraiture is represented by an imposing, large-scale chalk drawing on canvas by Thomas Lawrence as well as an exquisitely rendered pastel by the Restoration artist Edmund Ashfield. A rare and intensely felt work by John Brett depicting his brother, made whilst he was under the influence of Ruskin, crackles with Pre-Raphaelite intensity and François-André Vincent’s unflinching portrait of the great scientist Georges Cuvier dated year 8 in the Revolutionary calendar, revels in the austere technique popularised by David.
One of the reasons we so enjoy producing these catalogues is the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the complex contexts of new acquisitions. When we discovered the Spirit of the Asylum by the little-known Thomas Spence Duchè we had no idea it would lead us on a journey from Colonial Philadelphia, via Benjamin Franklin, William Blake and Emanuel Swedenborg to an exceptional example of the eighteenth-century welfare system in London. However, perhaps the most bizarre tale in the catalogue surrounds the three Blood Collages: works of proto-surrealism made by an astonishing outsider artist, John Bingley Garland. We hope you enjoy this year’s selection and that the entries offer a welcome respite. As always, we are enormously grateful to those friends and colleagues who have helped us prepare this catalogue.