We are just getting ready to head to New York for the new and exciting fair which expands the international reach of the long-established TEFAF Maastricht. It is exciting to be part of this new venture.
We are taking an important group of works by major British artists, including portraits by Thomas Gainsborough, George Romney and George Dawe and landscapes by J.M.W.Turner, Thomas Jones, John Constable and Samuel Palmer.
In recent years we have pursued a particular interest in pastels of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and amongst a number of recent acquisitions by important but less familiar artists which we are showing is a powerful pastel portrait by William Hoare of Bath. Depicting the lawyer William Folkes, the pastel neatly demonstrates the fashion for the medium in the mid-eighteenth century and the exceptional level they achieved. Many material and practical factors contributed to the popularity of pastels during the eighteenth century: the distinctive light and brilliant surface, the strength of colours, the simplicity of tools required to make them, the relative speed with which they could be completed as well as their essentially domestic scale and informal character. These inherent strengths, were amplified by a burgeoning market for portraiture at all levels in Britain during the century and the advancement of certain technologies, which made pastel a highly popular medium in which to work. As George Vertue noted, pastels were ‘much easier in the execution than Oil colours’, because they were quicker to execute and required no drying time. These qualities allowed pastel painters greater flexibility than practitioners in oil, enabling pastellists to be itinerant and set up in fashionable spa towns, such as Bath, where Hoare established himself in 1738.
William Hoare was much in demand by fashionable sitters. William Folkes was almost certainly introduced to Hoare by his brother, Martin Folkes. Martin Folkes had been painted by Hoare and was an intimate of the artistic circles in London in which Hoare moved. Folkes was the subject of a famous portrait by William Hogarth, which he left to the Royal Society, a bust by Louis-François Roubiliac, now at Petworth and countless other portraits and commemorative medals. The relationship with Roubiliac is significant, as William Folkes was responsible for commissioning the monument to the parents of his first wife Cecilia, Jane and Thomas Kerridge at Framlingham in Suffolk in 1744. Martin and William Folkes were close, Martin helped William to the appointment of agent to John, 2nd Duke of Montagu and attempted to find him a parliamentary seat. William Folkes married, as his second wife, the only daughter and heiress of Sir William Browne, President of the Royal College of Physicians a long-standing friend and correspondent of Martin.
Hoare’s portrait of William demonstrates his qualities as a pastellist; the striking characterisation and plasticity of the sitter’s features, contrasts with the simple costume. Hoare seems to have left William Folkes’s left arm only partially blocked-in, creating the sense of shadow and recession by leaving the passage as under drawing. Hoare’s portrait of William Folkes perfectly fits contemporary descriptions of the decorative qualities of the medium, housed, as it is, in a contemporary carved gilt-frame. The architectural style, with its squared corners, is identical to the type of frame described by Arthur Pond as an ‘architrave gold frame’ and associated with the neo-Palladian interiors of William Kent and Isaac Ware. William Hoare, like Pond, employed the carver and gilder Isaac Gosset to produce his pastel frames. In 1763 Hoare specifically described Gosset as ‘my framemaker’ when receiving payment from Lady Egremont.
We hope to see you at the Armory next week for what is set to be a very exciting new fair.
Park Avenue Armory
643 Park Avenue, New York
22 – 25 October 2016
Daily 11am –7.30pm
Wednesday 26 October 11am – 6pm