BBC Antiques Roadshow in Cirencester

There was no time for painting today, although art still featured in our plans as we took a couple of artworks to the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow on its visit to Cirencester.

I surprised myself in wanting to go along, as I have a rather mixed response to the programme when it’s on TV. I usually get drawn in and end up enjoying the objects and stories. When I hear the title music though, I can feel a sense of morbid doom descend. Thinking of dust and neglect, or lives that have gone before, a reminder of mortal considerations. That’s the artistic temperament for you. Luckily, I can divert myself from these thoughts by thinking of Joe Cornish’s brilliant reworking for Adam and Joe’s ‘Song Wars’. The lyrics immediately pop into my head and make me laugh…

You’re bored, it’s Sunday, 6.15,
There’s nothing else on the TV
Check it out now, it’s the Antiques Roadshow,
Looking at old stuff, seeing if it’s worth dough

… And so on.

Anyway, we really enjoyed ourselves. We didn’t want to be filmed, and we wanted to miss the crowds. Thankfully we struck lucky on both counts. Given the cold and gusty weather, we were also pleased to be directed indoors to the painting experts, where we saw Lawrence Hendra – Researcher for Philip Mould. On to the artwork.

Oil painting by Leghe Suthers

Leghe Suthers, 1856 – 1924. Title unknown. Oil on linen on board

The first painting is one that we have had on the wall for as long as I can remember. It’s a dark, quirky little picture and I have always loved it.

I’m sure it’s due to my experience as a painter that I always felt the artist had received a thorough, probably academic, training. The brushwork and assurance in the structure, how the hand is confidently suggested; hobby painters rarely paint this way. I could never make out the signature however, so for all I knew, this could have been the work of a competent, but entirely unknown artist.

Almost immediately, our expert recognised the name as that of Leghe Suthers, a ‘Newlyn School’ artist. To quote the catalogue:

SUTHERS, Leghe 1856 – 1924
Painted genre and figurative subjects. Exhib. 11 works at the RA including ‘Venetian Red’, ‘A Pound a Leg’ and ‘Romanies’. Studied in Antwerp, and worked in Brittany with Stanhope Forbes (q.v.). A minor member of the Newlyn School.

Our painting isn’t in great condition and could do with being cleaned. It was so interesting however, to learn that it represents something outside of the work that the artist is generally known for. There is an academic value inherent in that which I find thrilling. It is wonderful to think that this unknown painting has publicly seen the light of day again; saved from total obscurity. We will contact Penlee House Museum to let them know of our discovery.

Terracotta sanguine portrait drawing of 'Mrs Siegfried' by Sir William Rothenstein

Terracotta sanguine portrait drawing of ‘Mrs Siegfried’ by Sir William Rothenstein

On to the second piece. This beautiful drawing is another that we have enjoyed for years. Even before my own interest in portrait drawing and painting, I had a true admiration for the simplicity of line and the elegance of gesture that the artist has captured.

In this case, I knew of the artist, but wanted to know more about the sitter. Unfortunately this drew a bit of a blank, although our expert was sure that he had heard the name Mrs Siegfried before. Perhaps she was a prominent member of the circle of artists and writers of which Sir William Rothenstein himself was a central figure. This is something for further research.

Rothenstein (29 January 1872 – 14 February 1945), is an interesting artist, not least because he knew everybody. Clearly an amiable fellow to have around, his memoir ‘Men and Memories, A History of Arts 1872 – 1922’ (available to read online), is fascinating. He was friends with Whistler and Wilde, painted with Sargent… actually, the list goes on and on. Read the index and see how many notable names you recognise. You’ll lose count.

To finish, here’s a few photos I took while waiting in a queue.