A Family Group in Van Dyck costume
Sometimes a painting catches the imagination as much for its provenance as for its artistic merits, and this oil sketch by Joseph Highmore is very much a case in point. Its first recorded owner was Samuel Ireland (1744-1800), an antiquary, collector, engraver and writer best known for his ruinous advocacy of his son William’s notorious Shakespeare forgeries. A more recent owner, the art historian Edward Croft-Murray, was a distinguished keeper of drawings at the British Museum, and before that a member of the Monuments, Fine Art & Archive Commission (‘The Monuments Men’) in the Second World War, responsible for retrieving hidden artefacts in Italy. Samuel Ireland valued this painting as the work of William Hogarth (1697-1764), whom he may have known personally in his youth, and from whose widow he bought much of the extensive collection of Hogarth’s work which he published in the 1790s. Croft-Murray, on the other hand, was perhaps less concerned with authorship and more drawn to the painting for its affinity with the subject on which he wrote a standard work of reference, Decorative Painting in England 1537-1837.read more
Highmore is one of the most engaging artists of the first Hanoverian period, and yet so obscure had he become by the nineteenth century that even some of his most elaborate paintings had been reattributed to Hogarth, for example The Angel of Mercy, ca. 1746 (Yale Center for British Art). Others had never been considered to be anything but the work of Hogarth, and even though at no stage in his career did Hogarth produce oil sketches such as ours, it was not correctly identified as by Joseph Highmore until 1969 (see Literature). (A more substantial, finished group portrait now known to be Highmore but formerly ascribed to Hogarth is The Rich Family (London, The Garrick Club).) In an unscrupulous and implausible retelling of an old anecdote, Ireland alleged in his Graphic Illustrations that, having disdained the art of portraiture, Hogarth was challenged by associates at the Academy he
had founded in St. Martin’s Lane to paint a portrait as well as Van Dyck, and that the present sketch (latterly in Ireland’s possession) was the result. In ‘[striking] boldly into a path which he had never trodden before,’ claimed Ireland, Hogarth produced something ‘much in the graceful and dignified manner of Van Dyck.’ However, even before considering the differences in style, as Edwards has observed, Hogarth ‘had already produced too many excellent portraits for any doubts of his ability to be entertained’ and there would simply have been no need for him to produce a small sketch like this. Instead the evidence for the attribution to Highmore is overwhelming and can be summarized as follows.
Our sketch could easily be considered as a preparatory study for A Family Conversation Piece (Yale Center for British Art). This was bought for the collection by Paul Mellon in 1976, and was therefore probably unknown to Ralph Edwards when he published our picture seven years earlier, but the similarities are conspicuous. The Yale canvas is slightly wider, and the sitters wear contemporary rather than ‘historical’ costume, but in both compositions the figures are clustered into two distinct groups with a senior matriarch and a younger lady seated at the centre of each. The same arcaded archways are seen behind them in each picture, and the perspective is competently handled. These palatial backgrounds and the ‘Van Dyck’ theme are foreshadowed in several sheets in a scrapbook of Highmore’s drawings which were conceivably intended to be used for a series of paintings to illustrate the novel Clarissa, similar to his earlier series prepared for Pamela, his best known work. It is known that Highmore viewed at first hand the famous Van Dyck of The Family of the 4th Earl of Pembroke at Wilton House near Salisbury and even reproduced, if in reverse, details and similar figure groupings from the Pembroke painting in his The Family of Sir Eldred Lancelot Lee, 1736 (Wolverhampton Art Gallery), the most ambitious portrait group he ever painted. Highmore’s awareness of the fashion for historical clothing is exemplified in his lovely half-length Boy in Van Dyck Costume of 1748 (Waddesdon Manor, Bucks.) It is also of interest that in 1754 he published a pamphlet on Rubens’ celebrated painted ceiling at the Banqueting House in Whitehall. As well as a serendipitous connection with this sketch’s future owner and his concern for such decorative cycles, it suggests that
Highmore was particularly interested in the working methods – and by implication the preparatory oil studies – of the two great Fleming artists at the court of Charles I. The trompe l’oeil frame in our picture also relates to a number of Highmore’s pencil drawings for ‘conversations’, as they were known, where the frames are indicated, in one case even with numerals to show the intended overall dimensions. There exists a letter in which Highmore gives a lengthy explanation of his methods and prices for ‘family pictures’, and the proposed frame might have been included to help his customer finalise the desired scale. Lastly, the dots for eyes and mouth are a distinctive trait common to our sketch and the pencil studies discussed above.
With its silvery tone and its restrained, delicate palette, this charming painting can be enjoyed today both as a modello of a grand family portrait, and as a valuable insight into the working practice of an artist in early Georgian Britain. Please click here to see a detailed image of the painting.
Two monumental paintings by GABRIEL LOPPÉ at auction.
Two monumental paintings by Gabriel Loppé (1825-1913) are to be sold at auction on Wednesday 23rd March 2022read more
at 6pm CET / 5pm GMT, by ARTCURIAL in Paris.
The Matterhorn and the Mer de Glace are the most important paintings by Gabriel Loppé ever to come to auction.
Please follow these links to view the paintings on Artcurial.com: Matterhorn / Mer de Glace
Although these gigantic canvases were both transported from Chamonix to London in 1874 and put on display in the Conduit Street Gallery, they were considered lost until only eight years ago. In 2014 they were rediscovered in a house in the French Alps, still rolled up in their cylindrical wooden shipping boxes. Having never been disturbed since the London exhibition, the pictures are in an excellent state of preservation which makes this opportunity ever rarer and unique.
William Mitchell has acted on behalf of Artcurial as an independent expert in cataloguing both pictures for the auction. On Tuesday 22nd March at 7pm CET William will give a lecture and book signing at Artcurial in Paris on the life of Gabriel Loppé. Places are limited. If you wish to attend please contact: Flora Burquier-Chamot +33142992007 / firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peaks & Glaciers 2022
Peaks & Glaciers 2022 is now on view. This year's exhibition, which features over 50 paintings and photographs of the Alps, will be on view at the gallery from Monday 14th February - Friday 25th March. As always, the exhibition features a fully illustrated catalogue that can be purchased or viewed digitally on our website here. The exhibition is open to visitors 10.00-17.00, Monday - Friday by appointment.read more
SOUTH DOWNS extended until 17th December
We are delighted to announce that our current SOUTH DOWNS exhibition has been extended to run until Friday 17th December. SOUTH DOWNS is the result of Hart Dyke's exploration of the beautiful landscapes along the South Downs from the past 18 months. As is typical of James' practice the exhibition features many ‘plein air’ sketches that have been worked up to larger canvases in the studio. All paintings are on view at the gallery, Monday - Friday, 10.00-17.00. Please click on the links below to view the exhibition:read more
- Full exhibition catalogue
- Website images
For all enquiries please contact email@example.com.
Created in Conflict - the photographs of Adam Dobby
From 12th - 22nd October 2021 we will be hosting Created in Conflict - the photographs of Adam Dobby.read more
Adam Dobby a former member of the SAS, put down a rifle and picked up a camera: these haunting images are the result. His perspective on war, first as a soldier then as a photographer, has enabled him to tell visual stories in a unique way. He homes in on expressions and faces, and we are able to see into the experience of victims, conscripts, warlords and others caught up in the whirlwind of history.
At a time when we consume thousands of images daily, these pictures arrest the eye. They are documents not only of suffering, but of the strange beauty found in the war-scapes of Africa and the Middle East. They speak of the complexity of conflict, and the connections human beings can make through a single look or gesture.
A portion of all sales from Adam's art will go to support two charities The SAS Regimental Association, the only official organisation that represents the Special Air Service Regiment & INARA that provides life-altering medical care for children from conflict areas who have catastrophic injuries or illnesses and are unable to access treatment due to war.
Limited edition prints are personally proofed, signed and sequentially numbered, showing both the print number and the total edition size. Different sizes can be ordered.
Call of the Sea
We are delighted to announce that we will be returning to The Boathouse in Burnham Overy Staithe for our next exhibition Call of the Sea - Four Centuries of Marine Painting. From 19th -26th August the exhibition will showcase a wide selection of marine paintings from British 18th century watercolours to French Impressionist seascapes, including a seminal salon work by Karl Daubigny from 1875. Some of the artists included are Willem van de Velde, Samuel Atkins, Robert and John Cleveley, Dominic Serres, Julius Caesar Ibbetson, Martinus Schouman and many more. There will also be a newly commissioned James Hart Dyke Norfolk seascape on display.read more
The exhibition will be open everyday of the week 12 noon until 7pm. We look forward to welcoming all friends of the gallery to see these paintings in this wonderful and wholly appropriate venue.
Dealers' Diary - 90 years of John Mitchell Fine Paintings
We are delighted to have been covered in this week's (July 3rd) edition of the Antiques Trade Gazette, in the 'Dealers' Diary' section. The article focuses on our firm's enduring belief that dealing and collecting pictures is best done with a firm academic grasp of paintings balanced by practical know-how. A copy of the article can be read here on page 32.read more
Cavendish sisters reunited after 100 years
We are delighted to announce that our pastels portrait of Lady Henrietta Cavendish of 1790 by John Russell, is now destined to join that of her sister, Georgiana, bought last year by the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, and soon they will hang alongside each other there, as they did at the Royal Academy in 1790. The portraits were last exhibited together in Paris at the Galerie Georges Petit in 1908 at the Exposition de cent Pastels du XVIII siècle.read more
Loppé discoveries in the Antiques Trade Gazette
Thank you to Alex Capon @my_atg for your write up on these paintings by Gabriel Loppé (1825-1913). Read the article here.read more
We are delighted to have acquired these two rare finds and can’t wait to see how they will look after a little resuscitation.
It was also a fitting conclusion to our successful 20th annual Peaks & Glaciers exhibition.
Orchard Bay, Isle of Wight
As spring arrives we are delighted to offer this charming Ibbetson oil painting of Orchard Bay. The remote southern side of the Isle of Wight, with its cliffs and rocky coves, was reputedly the haunt of wreckers and bootleggers, and this intensified the island’s romantic appeal to artists like de Loutherbourg, Ibbetson and, later, the Rev. Gilpin in his treatise of 1798 on Picturesque Beauty. Our summery, buoyant scene of a sailor’s homecoming was the last of a series of Isle of Wight subjects exhibited by Ibbetson at the Royal Academy in the 1790s, and is almost certainly the uplifting pendant to the gothick horror of his dramatic Storm: Back of the Isle of Wight now in the Cleveland Museum of Art in Ohio.read more
Copies of James Mitchell’s book on Ibbetson are available on request. Click here for detailed photographs of the painting.
Peaks & Glaciers 2021 now online
As we are not able to welcome you in person at this time, we are making our catalogue available online. Please click on the links below to view the exhibition.read more
-Gallery of Peaks & Glaciers paintings
-Gallery of Peaks & Glaciers photographs
-Exhibition catalogue (pdf)
A price list is available on request. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for all enquiries. If you would like to purchase a physical catalogue (£20 inc. P+P) please email us your address and we will send you one.
A Quieter World now online
Our latest exhibition Michael Bennallack Hart - A Quieter World is now online. See here to view over forty of Michael's poetic landscapes.read more
With our new online 'viewing rooms' you can now see each work illustrated with its frame, price and scaled to furniture. The exhibition runs until 18th December and we look forward to welcoming visitors to the gallery by appointment as soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted. Please contact James Birtwistle (email@example.com / 07540595536) for all enquiries or to book a viewing.
Julius Caesar Ibbetson (1759-1817) and Boydell's Shakspeare Gallery
If you have a copy of the latest edition of the British Art Journal (XX, 3, www.britishartjournal.co.uk) be sure to read James Mitchell's article on Ibbetson and Boydell's Shakspeare Gallery on p. 116. We also have a copy of the article and high resolution images on our website here.read more
James Hart Dyke: North Norfolk postponed
Due to unforeseen circumstances brought on by the Covid-19 virus, we have now, regrettably, had to postpone our exhibition of James Hart Dyke’s paintings of North Norfolk until later this year. Meanwhile, please see here for a preview of several finished paintings.read more
Peaks & Glaciers 2020, catalogue now online
The catalogue for Peaks & Glaciers 2020 is now online and can be viewed here. Detailed photographs of every painting in the catalogue can be viewed in the alpine section of our website here. The exhibition will be open from Wednesday 29th January.read more
The title of our exhibition stems from Julius Caesar Ibbetson’s description of Morlais Castle in south Wales, which he was taken to see by his patrons, the Bute family, in 1789. As Britain prospered at home and prevailed overseas, Georgians increasingly felt a sense of uninterrupted connection with Britain’s ancient and mostly mysterious past. To them the huge castles in strategic and often dramatic settings stood for the turbulence, drama and territorial upheavals of the Middle Ages. For landscape painters already awakening to the stirring scenery to be found across the British Isles, its majestic castles, abbeys and ruins had an irresistible allure and contributed to the rise of the Romantic movement.read more
Our exhibition will include paintings and watercolours by Richard Wilson, Paul Sandby, Ibbetson, Edward Dayes, William Hodges, Alexander Nasmyth, and others, with prices ranging from £2,500 to £75,000.
As part of our collaboration with London Art Week James Mitchell will be giving a talk on the exhibition from 18.00-19.00, Wednesday 4th December, all clients and friends of the gallery are welcome to join.
James Hart Dyke: From the Studio
From 20 - 29th November we will be hosting James Hart Dyke's From the Studio exhibition. The exhibition includes a broad selection of work from James’ studio, including ongoing landscapes and commissions. There will also be paintings from his projects with the British Secret Intelligence Service MI6, Aston Martin, James Bond, Queen’s Tennis Club and the British Army. The exhibition is intended to give a glimpse of the range of pictures James has created over the last ten years, as well as focusing on his landscape painting which is central to his practice. The exhibition will include many never-before-seen studies which grant a fascinating insight into James' working practice. Most of the paintings are for sale.read more
AFRICA: The photographs of Nathalie Mountain, 7th - 15th November
Opening on Thursday 7th November we will be exhibiting the stunning wildlife photography of Nathalie Mountain (www.natmountainphoto.com). An extensively travelled wildlife and landscape photographer, Nathalie's exhibition AFRICA: The photographs of Nathalie Mountain will focus on a selection of work from her recent trips to the continent and the animals encountered there. All the photographs in the exhibition can be viewed here, and please click here for the digital exhibition catalogue. The photographs are limited to editions of six and can be ordered in a range of sizes. Please contact James Astley Birtwistle (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details.read more
Autumn exhibition schedule:
We are pleased to announce the following exhibitions will be held at the gallery this autumn:read more
AFRICA: The photographs of Nathalie Mountain, 7 - 15 November
James Hart Dyke: From the Studio 2019, 20 - 29 November
'Romantick Situations' Castles and the Picturesque in Eighteenth Century Britain (London Art Week) 1 - 6 December
We will be sending out details of each exhibtion in the coming months, please subscribe to our mailing list to recieve email notifications.
Autumn at John Mitchell Fine Paintings
John Mitchell Fine Paintings is open to visitors every weekday from 10.00-17.00. Please email or call us in advance if you would like to arrange the viewing of a specific painting so that we can have it ready for you.read more
July / August 2019
Over the late summer period John Mitchell Fine Paintings will be open to visitors by appointment. If you would like to view some of our paintings please make your visit know by calling the gallery directly or sending an email (see Contact in the menu). We hope you have an enjoyable summer, and look forward to sharing our autumn exhibition schedule with you in September.read more
From Fjord to Forest, catalogue now available
Our exhibition catalogue of From Fjord to Forest is now available, click here for the online version. All the paintings in the exhibition can be viewed here. The exhibition will be open from 20th June. Please contact William Mitchell (email@example.com) for a price list.read more
The Taming of the Shrew - A Masterpiece highlight
We will be exhibiting two rare paintings by Ibbetson at Masterpiece London next month. The pair depicts two scenes from Act IV of Shakespeare'sThe Taming of the Shrew. They are the original paintings from which engravings were made to illustrate Boydell's famous Shakespeare Gallery. We look forward to showing them to you on stand B41 at Masterpiece. Click here for further details.read more
Gallery Notes May 2019
Our May edition of Gallery Notes is now available to read here. This month's edition features two beautiful French paintings from the late nineteenth century; the first a bountiful still life by Euphémie Muraton, the second a charming depiction of Fontaine's classic fable The Fox and the Stork by Philippe Rousseau. For detailed photographs visit our European Paintings section. Please contact the gallery for further details or to arrange a viewing.read more
Tour Eiffel foudroyée
On the evening of 3rd June1902, Gabriel Loppé was setting up his camera on the balcony of his apartment when a summer storm began to rage over Paris. Just across the river, bolts of lightning began to cascade down M. Eiffel’s gigantic, latticed tower. At twenty past nine Loppé took this sublime picture. The Tour Eiffel foudroyée photograph, measuring only 17 x 12 cm, may have indelibly linked Loppé’s name to the history of photography, but it remains one of the most vivid reminders of who he was and what he represented: a man of his time. Read more about this historic photograph here. Please contact William Mitchell for further information or to schedule a viewing of the photograph.read more
BADA art fair 2019
We are please to announce our participation at this year's British Antique Dealers Association fair, starting 20th March. We will be exhibitng a variety of British and European paintings and watercolours, from the eighteenth century to the early twentieth. Please contact James Astley Birtwistle (firstname.lastname@example.org) for tickets to the fair. All clients and friends of the gallery are invited.read more
Duke of York Square, SW3 4LY
Wednesday 20 March 11.00am - 8.00pm
Thursday 21 March 11.00am - 8.00pm
Friday 22 March 11.00am - 8.00pm
Saturday 23 March 11.00am - 6.00pm
Sunday 24 March 11.00am - 6.00pm
Monday 25 March 11.00am - 8.00pm
Tuesday 26 March 11.00am - 6.00pm
Peaks & Glaciers 2019
Our eighteenth annual exhibition of paintings and vintage photographs of the Alps will be open from Thursday 24th January. Exhibition catalogues can be viewed online here, or hard copies (£10) can be purchased directly from the gallery. The gallery is open Monday - Friday, 10.00am - 5.00pm.read more
2019 at John Mitchell Fine Paintings
The gallery will be closed over Christmas to visitors from Friday 21st December until Monday 7th January, however we will be checking emails so if you want to get in touch please contact email@example.com. In the new year we will be holding our annual Peaks & Glaciers exhibition from late January, and the line up of other exhibitions in the gallery will be announced throughout the year. We will be exhibiting at BADA art fair in Chelsea in March and at Masterpiece London at the Royal Hospital in June and July. Have a very happy Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in the gallery in the new year.read more
Alfred Stevens (1823-1906) - La Lettre
Exhibited at the Salon of 1892, this elegant full-length genre painting by Alfred Stevens is a superlative example of the artist's work. See a larger image of it "here" . The combination of the three themes of ladies, the opening and reading of letters and luxurious draperies epitomises the paintings of Alfred Stevens. His exploration of the idea of ‘la femme seule dans son intérieur’ began with the seventeen pictures of his chosen for the Exposition Universelle of 1867 and continued throughout his career. As with Gerard Ter Borch and the other Dutch seventeenth-century masters whom he revered, for Stevens the subject of ‘the letter’ was merely a pretext for painting, albeit an inexhaustible source of inspiration. The restrained but elegant furnishings of the room are in keeping with Stevens’ concern for the latest fashions and the influence of japonisme.read more
ANTOINE GUILLEMET Normandy's Impressionist
We are delighted to be celebrating the centenary of Impressionist Antoine Guillemet (1841-1918) this November with an exhibition dedicated to the artist. With generous loans and pictures from our own stock, the show focuses on Guillemet's love of the Channel coast and the wild Normandy countryside. Click "here" to read our exhibition special Gallery Notes, and "here" for our current stock of paintings. The exhibition runs from 1st - 21st November, visitors are welcome throughout the week.read more
Gallery Notes March 2018
Our March edition of Gallery Notes is now available, read the digital version here. Amongst other news in this edition we are happy to announce our participation at BADA art fair on Duke of York Square next month (14-20 March). Please contact the gallery if you would like tickets.read more
Peaks & Glaciers 2018 catalogue online
Our Peaks & Glaciers 2018 catalogue is now available and can be accessed here. A hard copy can be ordered from the gallery for £10 (inc. p+p). The exhibition will be open for viewing, Monday to Friday from Thursday 25th January - Friday 9th March, 10.00-17.00.read more
Peaks & Glaciers 2018
We are in the process of putting together our seventeenth annual exhibition of paintings and early photographs of the Alps, which will open at the end of January 2018. Recent acquisitions will be added to the alpine section of the website over the coming month.read more
Julius Caesar Ibbetson bicentenary exhibition
From Thursday 23rd November we will be celebrating the bincentenary of the death of Julius Caesar Ibbetson with a loan and selling exhibition. The show will feature around fifteen works both in oil and watercolour. Our resident expert on the artist James Mitchell will be giving two illustrated evening talks to accompany the show on the 23rd and 6th December.read more
Current exhibition: James Hart Dyke LONDON: Cityscapes and Interiors
James Hart Dyke's latest exhibition will be on view at the gallery from Wednesday 1st November until the 17th, 10.00 am - 5.00pm . There are two evening views that the artist will be present at on 1st and 8th November, 6.00pm - 9.00pm. A digital version of the exhibition catalogue is available here. Please note that there are approximately 20 further paintings in the exhibition which are not illustrated in the catalogue.read more
Antoine Berjon at the National Gallery
We are delighted at the announcement that the National Gallery will be holding the first solo exhibition on the flower painter Antoine Berjon (1754-1843) in 2018. We have been privileged to handle several prominent pictures by this exceptionally rare artist over the last 30 years. As a preview to the show next year a painting, sold by John Mitchell, has been generously lent by a private collector to the National Gallery. It can be found in Room 45 next to Ingres’ Portrait de Madame Moitessie, good company indeed! Click here for our current stock on this artist.read more
Gallery Notes, Summer 2017
Our summer catalogue is now available to download from our website here. Our selection this summer covers four centuries, with Dutch and Flemish artists accounting for the 17th century, a moving Penitent Magdalene by the Haarlem Classicist Pieter de Grebber, and a recently rediscovered flower piece by Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer. The 18th century is dominated by English artists using several different mediums, granting us a broad view of the diverse achievements of the ‘Golden Age’ of British Art. The earliest are an exceptional ‘bodycolour’ of Eton College by Paul Sandby, and two beautifully fresh marine watercolours from his pupil’s brother Robert Cleveley. By John Russell we have a pastel portrait of the five year old Lady Henrietta Cavendish, a picture whose charm is only surpassed by its miraculous condition. The Falls at Tivoli by Julius Caesar Ibbetson gives us a glimpse into the ‘Grand Tour’ aspirations of the age. Ibbetson will be the focus of a special exhibition at our gallery in December to mark the bicentenary of his death. The Italian campagna continues to stir the imagination in Jean-Victor Bertin’s neoclassical landscape, a never-before-seen work that has lain dormant in a private French collection until today. The Swiss romanticist Johann Jakob Frey makes his Gallery Notes debut with a lively oil sketch of that most romantic of motifs, a lightning-struck oak tree. The work of Alfred Stevens and Antoine Guillemet require little introduction, given our regular association with their work, and this year’s offering by both artists continues to prove their consistent quality. And more recently, Jean Dufy’s distinctive École de Paris style brings a blast of 20th century colour and eccentricity to this year’s selection.read more
Jean Dufy - A Summer Preview
Our recently acquired Jean Dufy painting A View from the Place de la Concord to the Assemblée National offers clients a preview of new stock that we shall be exhibiting at MASTERPIECE 2017 this June/July. Our stand, as in previous years, will showcase a broad range of European Masters from early 17th century Dutch and Flemish masters to 18th, 19th and 20th century French and English masters. Jean Dufy came from a family of nine children brought up in an artistic and, especially, musical environment. By the age of 14 Dufy was painting stage sets for family plays; his talents were recognised and nurtured by his older brother Raoul and the latter's friend Othon Friesz. He travelled extensively in Western Europe and North Africa. He served in a cavalry regiment during World War I, but by 1920 he was back in Paris, where he exhibited examples of his painting at the Salon d'Automne, of which he was already a member. He produced designs for the silk factories in Lyons and for the porcelain works in Limoges.Like his famous brother Raoul, Jean often painted views of Paris and other French cities. His purpose was to capture the overall impact of a scene rather than its uniqueness and individuality. Jean (himself a gifted classical guitarist and jazz musician) painted in a style that was smoother and more fluent than his brother’s, using deep blues interspersed with reds and greens, with points of yellow creating the effects of light. This work illustrates the artist’s debt to the achievements of Impressionism in its bold colour and immediacy of brushwork, but is in turn wholly representative of the École de Paris, that creative explosion of modern and highly stylized art in early 20th century Paris.
The Roman Campagna brought back to Life
Every so often we have to great joy of finding an artwork that is truly undisturbed. This neoclassical landscape by Jean-Victor Bertin is just such a work. Painted in 1821, it has remained untouched in a private collection until now, and as such has had the fortune to have suffered no previous restoration campaigns, and remains unlined and in its original frame. The removal of old discoloured varnish has revealed a perfectly preserved paint-surface, and the verdant tones of the Roman countryside are as fresh for us to enjoy today as when the artist painted them almost 200 year ago. For dealers, collectors and restaurers alike, the alchemistic transformation of the cleaning is one of the most gratifying processes. Click here for more details on this work.read more
Current exhibition ALPS: MAMMOTH PHOTOGRAPHS by Thomas Crauwels
As a lover of mountains in the purest sense, Thomas Crauwels is a deserving and most welcome successor to our annual Peaks and Glaciers exhibitions held every winter in our gallery. As a craftsman making a living from photographing Leslie Stephen’s ‘Playground of Europe’, Thomas can be considered as a photographe-alpiniste in the rich tradition established by those pioneering painters, the peintres-alpinistes, who were the first to climb in the Alps intent on sketching and painting from life the views from high up.In the wake of photography’s early ‘golden age’ in the mid-1850s the
medium readily appealed to extroverts who thrived on challenges and innovation. With technological advances in cameras and film by the early 1900s, mountain photography became a mainstay for tourists, scientists and climbers alike. It will come as a surprise to learn that in the mid-1860s Chamonix was France’s second most photographed destination after Paris.Having established himself as a professional photographer and accomplished mountaineer, Thomas Crauwels abandoned his day-long hiking trips to head further up into the mountains, replete with a bivouac bag and supplies. His diary entries accompanying the catalogued works reveal a dedicated, if perfectionist, approach to his subject matter. These photographs bear witness to countless days spent above 3000 metres and a thorough technical training combined with great reverence for the earliest practitioners of Alpine photography. ALPS: MAMMOTH PHOTOGRAPHS will be on display at our gallery until April 7th, visitor are welcome throughout the week, 10:00 - 17:00. A digital catalogue can be viewed here.
Old Master Flowers for Spring
If you cannot make it to this year's TEFAF, but would like a dose of Dutch Old Masters, why not come and see our selection a little closer to home. Particularly this stunning and rare flower painting by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (1573-1621). The flowers in our panel emerge in a mysterious fashion from the dark background and the brushwork consists of many layers of carefully built-up glazes. Bosschaert’s unique bouquets owe much of their mystery and magic to these techniques, unsurpassed by his contemporaries, and yet there are no traces of laboriousness in his methods. The effect was to hide any trace of how each flower was conceived in paint and, even today, they still defy the closest scrutiny with the naked eye. Nor did the artist’s powers diminish towards the end of his life. Arguably one of the best known flower paintings in the world is Bosschaert’s open background composition (the Mauritshuis, The Hague) which was definitely done after 1618 and Bouquet of Flowers in a Glass Vase dated 1621(National Gallery of Art, Washington) may have been his last painting but remains, nonetheless, one of his finest. Indeed Bosschaert’s life and the stylistic development of his work has been the subject of considerable scholarship since Laurens Bol published The Bosschaert Dynasty in 1960. Bol’s work initiated a renewed appreciation of Ambrosius the Elder’s role in developing flower painting and also examined for the first time his artistic legacy in the context of the Bosschaert family. Four of the next generation of flower painters that succeeded him were closely related to him, his three sons, Ambrosius the Younger, Abraham and Johannes and his brother-in-law, Balthasar van der Ast. How precise was Bol’s title: a dynasty indeed!read more
Peaks & Glaciers 2017 - Exhibition now open
A printed catalogue is now available on request or PDF by clicking here. This week's Market News in Tuesday's Daily Telegraph, 24 January, succinctly promotes our exhibition:
" Sotheby's has just announced that one of the highlights of their contemporary art sale in London is Gerhard Richter's 1982 photo painting Iceberg, with an estimate of £ 8 million to £ 12 million. If snow and ice are your thing, but that price is a bit hefty, you might want to look at the John Mitchell Fine Paintings annual exhibition of snow-capped mountain peaks and glaciers by an array of British and European artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, where prices range from £950 to £95,000.
The Father of English Watercolour
Paul Sandby’s traditional designation as the father of the English watercolour school has much justification. He freed watercolour from a subservient role to oil painting, and by the introduction of the aquatint process provided the ideal means for the reproduction of watercolours, widely diffusing their appeal. Sandby also mastered the Continental medium of bodycolour, or ‘gouache’ as it is also known, which the artist applies like oil paint, mixing in increasing amounts of white into the pigment to achieve lighter tones. As one art historian has memorably observed, "the decorative quality of bodycolour perfectly suits [Sandby’s] topography, imbuing his sunny mornings with a light-hearted, Haydnesque cheerfulness that has come to epitomise a certain aspect of eighteenth-century life.”read more
Shown here is just such an remarkable example, which we have recently sold to an American collector affiliated with a prominent Mid-Western museum. In the same private ownership since 1962, this highlight of eighteenth-century British art reminds us that a
well-preserved, fresh work on paper can sometimes be far more pleasing than an oil painting.
A Summer Scene for a Cold January
To stave off the depressing January weather and rail disputes, enjoy this wonderfully accomplished watercolour by George Arthur Fripp (1813 - 1896), and be transported to a late summer's afternoon punting on the Thames. See a detailed image here.
Fripp was a pupil of J.B. Pyne and Samuel Jackson. He spent several years as a portrait painter in his native Bristol before moving to London in 1841. He was acclaimed for a landscape in oils entitled Mont Blanc from above Courmayeur. Thereafter, he limited himself to watercolours. In 1872 or 1873 he was elected to membership of the Belgian society of watercolourists.
He was a prolific exhibitor, sending some 600 paintings to London exhibitions over 50 years. He ranks as an accomplished landscape painter, particularly of English subjects, and is noted above all for his delicate, virtually translucent palette. His work was admired by Queen Victoria, and in 1864 he stayed at Balmoral Castle in Scotland and produced a number of local scenes there.
A New Website for a New Year.
We wish you a very happy New Year, and are pleased to reveal to you our newly refurbished website. As is customary we will be exhibiting our annual alpine exhibition Peaks & Glaciers 2017 at the end of January. More details and a digital catalogue will be published here later in the month.read more
Alfred Stevens in this week's Country Life
We are pleased to be able to draw your attention to some flattering coverage of our current exhibition Alfred Stevens - Second Empire Elegance in this week's Country Life (December 7th 2016, p.88). Huon Mallalieu selects the best this season's London gallery shows have to offer, highlighting our recently rediscovered painting Mappemonde, and the return of Stevens' status as one of the premier painters of the Second Empire, as he writes "he was a very fine painter and his time is coming again". The exhibition will be on show until the 16th December.read more
Alfred Stevens (1823-1906) – Second Empire Elegance
We are pleased to announce our forthcoming exhibition Alfred Stevens (1823-1906) – Second Empire Elegance will open on Wednesday 16th November. Our firm has been closely associated with the paintings of Alfred Stevens since the late 1940s when John Mitchell bought a painting by him in a New York auction. In his heyday in Paris in the 1860s and 1870S, Stevens was one of the most commercially successful artists, as well as being a prominent figure with a wide group of friends including Edouard Manet. One highlight of our exhibition is a long-lost genre picture entitled Nouvelles de l’Absent. Recently having resurfaced in Belgium, the dazzling quality of this painting ranks it among one of his very best works. Our exhibition will comprise of further examples of his female studies, genre scenes and the less well-known seascapes which he painted obsessively towards the end of his career in the 1880s. Some works can be previewed here on our website.read more
It is a fortunate coincidence that our exhibition coincides with the public sale of one of Stevens’ famous ‘Vanderbilt’ paintings, bought directly from the artist in 1880. Sotheby’s New York will be offering Ready for the Fancy Dress Ball on the 22nd November with an estimate of $500,000–700,000.
Our upcoming Alfred Stevens Exhibition November 16th - December 16th
Now on at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris The Spectacular Second Empire 1852-1870 (which runs until January 15th 2017) includes two famous paintings by Alfred Stevens:L’Inde a Paris; le bibelot exotique (Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam) and La rentrée du bal (Musée d’Orsay). Our exhibition will display several hitherto unrecorded and unpublished pictures from the 1860s and 1870s – arguably the artist’s finest period. Photographs and details will soon be sent out and published online.read more
Spreading Canvas - Eighteenth-Century Marine Painting
For more than seventy years John Mitchell Fine Paintings has been buying and selling marine paintings from the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, both by the Dutch pioneers of the subject and their many successors in England . In the wake of the influential Van de Velde studio in London at the end of the seventeenth century,there arose a native tradition of sea-painting whose rise in stature and quality was commensurate with that of Britain’s maritime power. Artists such as Monamy, Scott, Brooking, Serres and Cleveley were once very familiar to collectors, and their work continues to find favour with us. We are pleased therefore to draw attention to what looks like a magnificent survey of the subject currently being held at the Yale Center for British Art in new Haven, Connecticut (ends on 4th December) and which includes paintings bought by Paul Mellon from John Mitchell in the 1960s. A photo of the lavish accompanying catalogue is shown here.
A Thomas Blinks painting given a new lease of life.
A client has recently asked us to clean this charmingsporting picture by the renowned Victorian dog painter, Thomas Blinks(1860-1912). This photograph of the conservation work in progress serves as auseful reminder that often just removing surface grime and old discolouredvarnish can bring renewed pleasure with no further restoration required.
Swiss landscape at the National Gallery
As the leading dealer in Alexandre Calame’s work, William Mitchell is pleased to report that the National Gallery has been given a fine painting by him.read more
At Handeck from 1860 has been presented to the Nation by the New York collector and long-standing friend of our firm, Asbjørn R. Lunde.
A large,unrecorded canvas, A mountain torrent in the Bernese Oberland, also painted in 1860 has just been added to our Calame inventory (see here).
Prestigious commission for James Hart-Dyke
As a long-standing member of The Queen’s Club in west London, James Mitchell was able last year to secure an important commission for our ‘resident’ artist, James Hart Dyke, to do a series of paintings to adorn the newly-refurbished clubhouse. After more than a year’s work, costing several million pounds, the new bars and dining areas were formally opened to the members of Queen’s ten days ago, and James Hart Dyke’s fourteen pictures have already become a talking point. Illustrated here is the spectacular pair of oil paintings, each over six feet wide, of crowds watching the tennis at the Club last summer – one at the Aegon Championships in June, and the other at the now-famous Davis Cup tournament. Other paintings include a remarkable life-size study of the head groundsman at work, as well as Andrew Murray knocking up, and other scenes both on and off the courts. With over four thousand members to enjoy them all year round, and the many additional guests during the major tournaments, James Hart Dyke’s paintings will now reach a whole new audience, and be a lasting credit to this famous Club. For more photographs of the commissioned pictures please see James's website http://jameshartdyke.com/read more
DUTCH FLOWERS at the National Gallery, London - on until 29th August
The National Gallery is now showing twenty-two Dutch flowerpieces by the greatest masters of the genre, The exhibition is reviewed by William Mitchell in this week's Country Life
The Museum of Childhood acquires our Francis Hayman painting
We are pleased to announce that, with the support of the Art Fund, the V & A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London, has been able to purchase our Francis Hayman painting of Charles Bedford as an infant from 1741.read more
Victor Gilbert (1847-1935) Le déjeuner du chat, oil on canvas, 35 x 27 cm. signed & dated 1879
This previously unknown early Victor Gilbert genre painting of 1879 has just returned to us from the conservation studio and is flawless in every way. Gilbert became well-known for his scenes of flower sellers, game dealers and other market traders at work in Les Halles in Paris, but at the outset of his career he was primarily interested in still-life and genre painting.Like his contemporaries Vollon, Ribot and Rousseau, he revered thework of Chardin and, like him, was drawn to the quiet, humble scenes ofdomesticity of everyday life. In this intimate picture the cat patiently waitswhile his mistress pours out his milk – in itself a detail which brings to mindthe serving girls of Vermeer – and the woman’s plain clothes and her sparseroom are depicted by Gilbert with a subtle and sensitive palette.
Aberdeen Harbour in Hong Kong 1906
A specialist artist can often surprise with his or her accomplishment in another field and this painting is a good example. It is by Frank Wootton OBE (1914-1988), best known as the doyen of aviation artists. In WW2 his illustration work for aircraft manufacturers made him famous, and he became the official war artist to the RAF.read more
His artists’ manual, How to draw Aircraft, is still widely regarded today.
After the war, his work for airlines and travel companies not only took him all over the world but led him to widen his subject matter, and the painting we offer here shows what a gifted all-round painter he became. The last owner’s father ran the publicity department at the De Havilland aircraft company and was personally given the painting by Wootton.
WE HAVE MOVED!
After our sell-out James Hart Dyke Whymper’s Mountains exhibition we areread more
excited to move into our new premises on the first floor of 17 Avery Row,
Mayfair, London W1K 4BF. We look forward to greeting visitors to the new
gallery from Monday 7th onwards. Our telephone number and email
addresses remain the same.
James Hart Dyke: Whyper’s Mountains opening this Thursday.
With only four days until James Hart Dyke's stunning alpine exhibitionread more
opens, we look forward to welcoming visitors to the gallery from Thursday 12th
onwards. An illustrated catalogue is available on request, or can be downloaded
from our catalogues page. We shall be holding evening views on Thursday 12th
and Wednesday 18th until 8:30pm.
JAMES HART DYKE : WHYMPER’S ALPS 150 YEARS ON
With his conquest of the Matterhorn one hundred and fifty years ago, Edward Whymper concluded his triumphant career as the most courageous and determined mountaineer of his generation. After a series of first ascents in 1864, Whymper had devised a remarkable campaign for the following season: he intended to scale all the significant unclimbed peaks and, principally, had his sights on the Matterhorn. During a period of twenty-four days between June and July, Whymper and his guides climbed five mountains and crossed eleven passes. Four of those summits were first ascents including the Grandes Jorasses and the Aiguille Verte. He ascended just over 100,000 feet in the process and covered the same distance going down.read more
This November, the narrative landscapist, James Hart Dyke, will exhibit thirty oil paintings and sketches made on his own ‘season’ in the Alps this summer, during which he trekked and climbed, retracing where possible Whymper’s footsteps.
Robert Salmon rediscovered
We have recently rediscovered in Europe this fascinating American painting by Robert Salmon which will go on display at our stand (B 17) at Masterpiece 2015.Robert Salmon was an important marine artist who worked in England and America. His maritime subjects played a pivotal role in the development of the Luminist Movement in nineteenth century American landscape painting. Although this scene of a celebratory firework display, or ‘lumination’, was documented in Salmon’s original catalogue of his work and published in a 1971 monograph of the painter, its whereabouts have been unknown for over a century.Research has shown that the evening in November 1837 was hosted by John W. Fenno, the
son and heir of the founder of The Gazette of the United States, a newspaper that played a major part in the shaping of party politics in the United States in the 1790s.The banquet hall and hotel, Maverick House, served as both a summer resort for the wealthy and an overnight stay for people sailing to Europe or catching a train further north. It was subsequently owned by Patrick Kennedy, father of Joseph and grandfather of John F.Kennedy. Read more about this fascinating painting here.
We are happy to announce that we will be exhibiting this summer at Masterpiece 2015 at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, from 25th June – 1st July. Please come and visit us at stand B17, tickets can be left at the entrance desk upon request. For more information see here.
Opening times: 25th – 26th June 11.00 – 21.00, 27th – 28th June 11.00 – 19.00, 29th June 11.00 – 21.00, 30th June 11.00 – 18.oo, 1st July 11.00 – 21.00
In the wake of the Van de Veldes: marine painting in 18th century England
We are pleased to announce that this summer’s exhibition in the gallery will display the work of three generations of the Van de Velde dynasty, and investigate their influence on the British school of marine painting. In the aftermath of the Dutch Golden Age the works of the Van de Veldes were highly sought after by collectors, especially in Britain, and greatly emulated by artists. Most notable of these were Charles Brooking and Dominic Serres, who will be well represented in the show, and there will also be oils and watercolours by artists such as Cleveley, Anderson, Atkins and Whitcombe.
The exhibition will be held at 44 Old Bond Street from 4th June – 10th July.
A Cherished Child of the Early Georgian Age
Until only very recently this portrait remained in the possession of the sitter’s descendants, and was not known of outside the family circle. Painted in 1744 or 1745, it is an uncommonly intimate and informal portrait of a child in the context of early Georgian portraiture, and, as such, a valuable addition to Hayman’s known oeuvre. It is one of numerous surviving portraits of the family of Grosvenor Bedford (1708-1771), one of Hayman’s most consistent patrons and a retainer of the Walpoles. Charles Bedford is seen when a few years older sitting on a St Bernard dog with his sister Elizabeth in a larger canvas of 1746-7 still privately owned (see Brian Allen, Francis Hayman, 1987, col. pl. II, p. 8) and in Grosvenor Bedford with his Wife Jane and Son Charles (Exeter, Royal Albert Memorial Museum). A friend of Hogarth and David Garrick, and teacher of Gainsborough, Hayman holds an important position in the history of British art, and yet his paintings appear only infrequently on the market today.
See a larger image and details of the work here.
Durand-Ruel at the National Gallery
The National Gallery’s fantastic new exhibition on the legendary art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel (1831-1922) opened this month. The show gives a fantastic insight into this key figure whose discovery and support of the Impressionists fostered the movement loved today. The BBC’s promotional video (see here) gives us a teasing sneak-peak of some of the fabulous works on view, including a series of Monet’s famous poplars painted in the summer of 1891. Christopher Riopelle, curator of 19th century paintings, discusses Durand-Ruel’s discovery of Manet after a visit to Alfred Stevens’ Paris studio. Manet’s influence on Stevens is undeniable, and is perfectly illustrated in the loose brushwork of our Girl in a Kimono, see here.
4th March - 31st May 2015
Peaks and Glaciers 2015 - Now on View
Please note that we are open on Saturdays between 12pm and 5pm.
Our fourteenth annual exhibition of paintings, drawings and vintage photographs of the Alps is now on view until the 12th March.The exhibition features over 30 works for sale by the leading Alpine landscape painters from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries. A fully illustrated 40 page catalogue is available to download here.Opening times:Tuesday 27th January - Thursday 12th March 2015Monday to Friday 10.00am - 5.30pm, Saturday 12.00pm - 5.00pm
Exhibition now on: The Old Hill Framed in Memory
After a private view by the Governors of Harrow School on Wednesday night The Old Hill Framed in Memory is now open. The exhibition contains over 50 paintings, watercolour drawings and prints of Harrow on the Hill from the mid-eighteenth century to the present day. Five pictures have been lent by the School, including one of the earliest known oil paintings of the Hill and a little-known but remarkable study of trees at Harrow by a veteran of the Great War, David Jones. The pictures in the exhibition document the changing topography of the Hill since the 1770s and several views show how little the famous silhouette has altered over the centuries.
An illustrated booklet to accompany the exhibition can bedownloaded here.
The exhibition is on display from 20th November – 12th December, Monday – Friday, 9.30AM – 5.00PM.
Bouquets: French Still-Life Painting from Chardin to Matisse
A stunning exhibition of French 19th century flower painting is now on view at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts next spring. Bouquets: French Still-Life Painting from Chardin to Matisse showcases 60 floral still lifes. Two large oil paintings by Antoine Berjon Fruit and Flowers in a Wicker Basket and Bouquet of Lilies and Roses in a Basket on a Chiffonier, have been lent by the Musee des Beaux Arts de Lyon and the Louvre, which is a great coup for this scarce and masterful Lyonnais painter in North America. Berjon’s genius and reputation, long championed by our firm over the past four decades (see here) has historically been hampered by the scarcity of his works. We applaud this joint venture between Dallas and Virginia in now taking the initiative to bring Berjon to a wider audience. French Still-Life Painting from Chardin to Matisse for more details see here.
High prices for Stevens in New York
Our two paintings by Alfred Stevens,Girl wearing a kimono and Trahie-Perplexité were much admired in New York at the recent International Fine Art & Antiques Fair. A strong auction result for Stevens’ Glass Ball ($557,000 with buyers premium) at Sotheby's New York continues to bolster the standing of his work for both private collectors and museums.
Watercolours & Drawings exhibition on show this autumn
John Mitchell Fine Paintings is pleased to present an eclectic mix of British and European watercolours and drawings this autumn. Our exhibition which ranges from the mid-18th century to the early 20th covers a diverse range of genres and styles, highlighting the qualities of the medium that have gained it enduring popularity with collectors past and present. The exhibition offers works by artists of established renown such as Thomas Rowlandson and William Turner of Oxford, alongside lesser known yet equally charming and capable artists - Johan Hubert Prins’ Tollbridge at Rijswijk for example. The exhibition will be on view from Monday 6th October - Friday 14th November. Digital catalogues are available here. Visitors are welcome throughout the week.read more
Le Havre. 1881 The other side to Alfred Stevens' story
Alfred Stevens began painting coastal scenes formally in the summer of 1881 having signed a contract with the picture dealer, Georges Petit, to return to Paris with eleven ‘marines’. Earlier in the year, Stevens’ doctor, Professor Michel Peter, had also urged him to leave Paris for the sake of his his congested lungs. Stevens indeed badly needed the change of scene - and to repay some worrying debts brought on by a heady lifestyle in the capital. This striking seascape puts Nature to the fore as Man’s presence is confined to two distant sails and two beach huts. Executed with a palette knife, the blustery sky echoes the sea bashing into the breakwater with thick impasto passages cresting the waves. Our painting on panel was shown in the 1900 retrospective Stevens exhibition at Paris’s Ecole des Beaux-Arts together with fifteen other coast scenes and seascapes. There can be no better proof of how integral these marines were in his artistic legacy and we are now delighted to be able to offer for sale some of the best Stevens pictures we have handled in many years.
Sir Stirling Moss in The Steeple Times
Our painting of Sir Stirling Moss by James Hart Dyke (b.1966) has been highlighted by The Steeple Times. James Hart Dyke has been closely associatedwith John Mitchell Fine Paintings since 2002. The firm has held six exhibitionsof his work, the most notable being 'A Year with MI6' (2011), a series ofpaintings done to commemorate the centenary of the Secret Intelligence Servicewhich earned him international recognition. In 2013 Hart Dyke was the officialartist for the centenary of Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd, and this painting belongsto that series. Visit The Steeple Times website for more here.
Only three days of Masterpiece London left.
its fifth year the fair has seen record attendance. We were proud to receive
painting of the year for our Willem van de Velde the Elder pen drawing. Please come and see us at stand B17.
Tickets can be left at the entrance desk upon request.
Opening times: Monday 30th June 11.00-18.00, Tuesday 1st – Wednesday 2nd July 11.00-21.00
Two Belle Ēpoque beauties by Alfred Stevens (1823 -1906)
As the leading
specialists in his work, we are delighted to have recently acquired not one but
two paintings by the Belgian, Alfred
Stevens – neither of which has been seen in public for over eighty years.
Both pictures are the
same size and painted on panel, with distinguished provenance and exhibition
histories. Trahie is a relatively
early picturedating from the mid-1860s
whilst Girl in a kimono was painted
in 1876, contrasting sharply in technique and palette from one another.
The model for Girl in a kimono, recorded in the
artist’s work diaries as ‘Agathe’, features in several of his most famous
paintings from 1870 -1884, his ‘power’ years. With her distinctive auburn hair
and fair skin, Agathe can be seen in Le
Bain (Paris, Musée d’Orsay), Souvenirs
et regrets (Williamstown, Massachusetts, The Sterling and Francine Clark
Art Institute) Après le bal (New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art) and Méditation (Boston, Museum of Fine Arts)
to name a few. These small, intimate single figure subjects are the finest
endorsement for Stevens’ status as
one of the leading painters of his time, a claim familiar to readers of our Gallery Notes and followers of our
numerous Stevens publications and
exhibitions. Stevens was strictly a
genre painter who did not consider himself a portraitist and made no secret of
his real and everlasting preference for women as his sitters.
Trahie and Girl in a kimono will be
on our stand B17 at MASTERPIECE (26th June – 2nd
Rare Willem van de Velde painting on show this summer
At Masterpiece we will be presenting this
very rare penschilderij (‘pen painting’) by the Dutch
seventeenth-century artist, Willem Van
de Velde the Elder (1611-1693). Last recorded in a sale in Germany
ninety years ago, this re-discovered work is a fascinating addition to the
known work of this famous master. Van de
Velde and his son, Willem the
Younger, are regarded as the most important marine artists in the history
of art, and their paintings found their way into many of the great collections
in Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.Van
de Velde the Elder specialized in highly finished,
precisely detailed compositions using the technique of ‘drawing’ with the brush
on a white ground, this being either a canvas or wooden panel prepared with a
fine layer of gesso (plaster) which would be delicately impressed with the
lines of his drawing. His paintings are few in number compared to the thousands
of drawings and sketches on paper which served him and his son as templates for
their more elaborate oils.Our example shows a large English ship-of-the-line,
and is most unusual in dating from the very end of his life (c.1690), by which
time he and his son had been established as court painters in London for nearly
twenty years. The quality and accuracy of his work here reveal that Van de Velde the Elder’s talents
remained undimmed by the years, his mastery of the subject as assured and
competent as in his more familiar pen paintings of the 1650s and 1660s.See us at Masterpiece 2014, Royal Hospital Chelsea, stand B17, 26th June - 2nd July.
Gunner F J Mears: watercolours from the Great War
This year’s centenary of the outbreak
of the Great War, has evoked much renewed interest in the art that originated
from that devastating conflict. John
Mitchell Fine Paintings are offering four works for sale by Gunner F J Mears, two of them dated
1916 (please see under Artists).
Not much is known about Gunner Mears. He served on the Western
Front in the Royal Garrison Artillery at the Ypres salient and also on the Somme.
It is believed that he was commissioned by the War Office as an official artist
but his work lay largely undiscovered until a London gallery exhibited thirty of his
drawings in 1920. His haunting nocturnal images of the Messines Road with
shadowy figures hurrying from shell-blasts, or columns of men trudging wearily
to the front line, faceless and anonymous, caused a stir in the refines of Old
Bond Street. The Duke of Norfolk, Lady Astor and General Gough were just a few
of the distinguished buyers from that sell out exhibition that rescued Mears
His period watercolours are signed and
dated (usually 1916 or 1917) upside-down. When asked why he inverted his
signature Mears replied "The
whole of the World is upside down... Why then should my signature only be the
right way up?" Later undated works often depicted the same tree lined
roads, however, the Grim Reaper had replaced the figures of soldiers. He died
in 1929 as a result of gas inhalations sustained during the war.
Chamonix Exhibition : Gabriel Loppé, Artiste au sommet: finishes on the 17th May 2014.
Gabriel Loppé, artiste
au sommet, will
close in a few weeks time in Chamonix’s musée
Alpin. This is the second major solo exhibition dedicated to this remarkable peintre-alpiniste in the last decade. Gabriel Loppé (1825-1913) was one of the leading Alpine landscape
painters of the 19th century who spent over fifty seasons climbing
and painting in the Chamonix valleys as well as further afield in the Alps. William Mitchell
is the leading specialist in Loppé’s paintings having sold over forty pictures by
him since the late 1990s. (See ALPINE)The exhibition finishes on the 17th May 2014.
Original painting by Frank Wootton OBE PPGAvA
Although not in keeping with our
usual areas of specialization, we recently bought this gouache by Frank
Wootton (1911-1998) in a provincial sale. The doyen of ‘aviation artists’, Wootton
became well-known in Britain during the Second World War as his commercial
work was widely publicised, and today it is very unusual to find one of his
original studies.By 1939 Frank Wootton already
had a best-selling book, How to Draw Aircraft, and therefore it is
no surprise that when he volunteered for the R.A.F. at the outbreak of the war
he was offered a special duty commission as official war artist. He painted
R.A.F. subjects in England, France and Belgium before travelling to south-east
Asia in 1945.Our painting by Wootton (gouache
on card, 33 x 35cm) is the original artwork for an advertisement for AVRO
published in Flight magazine,
20th January 1944. It depicts the attack on the Schneider engineering factory
at Le Creusot, France on the 17th October 1942 by 94 AVRO Lancasters of No.5
recognised as probably the finest aviation artist of all time and was awarded
the O.B.E in 1995 for his services to aviation art during the Second World War.Our gouache is advertised in the latest issue of Aeroplane, and is for sale at the gallery for £4,500.
John Constable and Albert Bierstadt: John Mitchell’s Boston connection
1946 was a busy time
for the founder of the firm, John Mitchell, then based in New York City.A recent episode of the
BBC’s Fake or Fortune series was
dedicated to a successful re-authentication of a Brighton Beach painting by John
Constable, acquired that year by the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) in Boston
from John Mitchell. Two years later, in 1948, Boston acquired another Constable also from John Mitchell. This major painting entitled The Stour Valley featured in the
background of the television programme.Established in 1907 the
MFA has received many remarkable bequests over the past century including the
Karolik Collection of over two hundred American paintings. Maxim Karolik was an
opera singer who collected art with his wife, Martha Codman. In 1946 Karolik
bought four Albert Bierstadt oil
studies from John Mitchell, Seal Rocks (Farallons), A Geyser in Yellowstone, Storm in the Rockiesand and Piz Bernina. These now hang
in the MFA together with fifteen other
Bierstadts and seventy years on John Mitchell’s grandson, William, is a
specialist in the artist who inspired
Bierstadt’s work more than any other – the Swiss Alexandre Calame (1810-1864). (see Alpine)In 1858 Bierstadt organised an exhibition in
his hometown of New Bedford, Massachusetts to showcase the work of the best
American artists of the time, as well as three contemporary European artists:
the English animal painter E.H. Landseer
(1802-1864) and two landscape painters, the Düsseldorf-based Andreas Achenbach (1815-1910) (see European Paintings) and Calame.Bierstadt
to Lake Luzern from Düsseldorf in 1856 accompanied by his fellow American
artist, Worthington Whittredge (see Alpine) in the hope of meeting and
studying with Calame, whose work was
now known and collected all over Europe. Indeed in 1865 the ‘Central Park’
landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, referred to Calame’s work when lobbying the American government to preserve the
Yosemite Valley in California
from loggers, settlers and speculators.Although Calame’s lithographs were readily
available it is no exaggeration to claim that Albert Bierstadt introduced Calame
to an American public. In the last decade alone there have been three museum
exhibitions devoted to Alexandre
Calame’s paintings one in the USA, one in Norway and one in London’s
National Gallery (Forests Rocks Torrents,
a German-American, emulated Calame in
painting many Alpine scenes during his two year European sojourn in the 1850’s.
The Karolik Piz Bemina would make a
wonderful loan to our thirteenth Alpine exhibition next winter, Peaks and Glaciers!
Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759-1840), the ‘Raphael of flowers’
Having sold a beautiful watercolour on vellum of flowers by Redouté at the start of the year (see our Gallery Notes Autumn 2013), we were keen to try and buy a similar example which appeared at an auction in Le Havre, France in mid-March. On the day we pushed the bidding to €50,000, but were unsuccessful; it sold for a total of €60,000. Nonetheless we take heart from the result. Pure flowerpieces by Redouté, as opposed to his purely botanical illustrations, are rare today and deserve greater admiration and recognition than the French auctioneer’s lowly estimate of €8,000-10,000 would suggest. Indeed, as an artist with whose remarkable creations our firm has had a long association, we would like Redouté to be restored to his rightful place in the pantheon of flower painters, and to see his finest vellums be valued accordingly.
French miniature makes record price:
A portrait miniature by the elusive Antoine Berjon (1754-1843) was auctioned in Paris earlier this month for over €33,000 (£27,300) including buyer’s premium, a record price for such a picture by this artist, in whose work John Mitchell Fine Paintings has specialised for over thirty years.The miniature Portrait of a Young Woman sitting three-quarter length in a low-cut brown Dress with a white Scarf was estimated at €2,000-3,000 and soared above its predicted value. Signed and dated ‘An 8’ in reference to the eighth year of the Revolutionary calendar (1800), the exquisite miniature was painted in oils on ivory. Berjon’s name is usually associated with his mysterious flower paintings; his miniatures however present a less well known side of his oeuvre.In 1794 the Revolutionary army from Paris laid siege to Lyon, in a savage reprisal for the city’s support of the defeated Girondin party. As a consequence the once booming Lyonnais silk trade, which in 1740 employed 18,000 people, was destroyed. Berjon, together with many young artists like him, left Lyon for Paris in search of work. Lodging in the Place des Victoires in the capital Berjon became friends with Jean-Baptiste Augustin (1759-1832), a prolific miniaturist, who had painted such distinguished figures as Marie-Antoinette, Napoleon I and Louis XVIII. Augustin taught Berjon his craft, adding miniatures to his extensive range of skills. The miniature in question is an early example of Berjon’s work, his better known flower pieces in oil generally dating from 1810 onwards, making it all the more unusual.For an artist of such genius Berjon’s renown has always been hampered by the scarcity of his work both commercially and in museums. However the high price achieved by this miniature proves a rarity in both availability and subject matter make today’s collectors ever hungry for all things Antoine Berjon.Please look out for our upcoming edition of Gallery Notes in June where we will be publishing a spectacular, large flower painting by Berjon.