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Purchased from the artist by Moses Nightingale by 1930; thence by descent to the present owner.
After the present catalogue went to press it became apparent that Edward Nightingale of Rotherham had no connection with Moses Nightingale of Crawley, Sussex, whose son was `Percy' Edward Nightingale. La Thangue, it appears, had two seperate patrons - both called Nightingale.
Property from the Nightingale Collection of Works by Henry Herbert La Thangue
A Painter and his Patron - Henry Herbert La Thangue and Moses Nightingale
Back in the 1870s, Henry Herbert La Thangue, then 'a slim boy in an Eton suit', drew the classical Discobolus to prove his talent and gain admission to the Royal Academy Schools. He was, according to his friend George Clausen, 'brilliant'. Hailing from Croydon and of French Huguenot descent, La Thangue attended Dulwich College and the Government Art Training School before arriving at the Academy. He wassoon spotted by Frederic Leighton, and armed with the President's letter of introduction, he passed to the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1879 where he studied under Jean-Léon Gérome. In Paris in the early 1880s he was part of a large contingent of British art students including Clausen, Stanhope Forbes, John Lavery, Philip Wilson Steer and many others, all of whom were influenced by the great French Naturalist master, Jules Bastien-Lepage. This led Le Thangue to paint in Brittany with Forbes and in the Rhone valley alongside the sculptor, Harvard Thomas.
When he returned to Britain, La Thangue's work bore all of the hallmarks of his French training. These were obvious in In the Dauphiné (sold Christie's, November 2003), a painting which provoked strong reactions when it was shown at the first New English Art Club exhibition in 1886. Fuelled by Ruskin's xenophobia, critics objected to its 'square brush' method of painting across forms to give breadth and solidity. To a lesser extent all the New English painters did this. Seized by the revolutionary moment, La Thangue advocated that they should initiate a 'bigger movment', and extend the club to a much wider membership. This idea of rivalling the Royal Academy, although supported by Clausen, was rejected by the club's more conservative members and La Thangue retreated to a studio in Norfolk,close to the Broads. His move to Sussex in 1890 signalled a change of heart and with Clausen he returned to exhibiting at the Academy, submitting large naturalistic scenes of rural life. In 1896 his The Man with the Scythe (Tate Britain) was purchased for the nation by the Chantrey Bequest.
The twentieth century ushered in a new phase in La Thangue's work. In 1901 he returned to France and with works such as December in Provence (Christie's Images), found a more congenial landscape and a lighter palette. For the next ten years the hill towns of the Cote d'Azur featured regularly as his work became more impressionistic in style.
His solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in 1914 was warmly praised by Walter Sickert for its original take on modern painting - while speaking 'to many generations to come', it avoided 'the gamut of Monet, or, to be fin-de-décade, of Cezanne'.
Moses Nightingale, the fourth in his family to be so named, appreciated the arts. His father, Moses Nightingale III, was a brick maker in Crawley. Moses Nightingale IV established his own business as a corn merchant, and pursued his interest in music by establishing the Hazeldene Orchestra, named after his house. At the same time he formed a large art collection, filling his house with works by Hector Caffieri, Lucy Kemp Welch, Stanhope Forbes and many others. La Thangue however, was his favourite artist and he lent 31 pictures to the artist's memorial exhibition at Brighton Art Gallery in 1930. Most of theselater works glowed with the intense colour and strong sunlight of northern Italy, Spain and the south of France, where La Thangue had a winter studio at Bormes-les-Mimosas. 'No painter can get everything of what is before him', Clausen wrote, 'he can only ... get the things that move him ... And so for La Thangue, it was primarily, the beauty of things in sunlight that excited him ...' Such beauties passed, in all their richness, to Nightingale and his family.
We are grateful to Kenneth McConkey for his assistance in the preparation of the catalogue entries for Lots 16 to 22.
Sussex County Herald, 19 September 1930.
London, Royal Academy, 1919, no. 3 (?)
Brighton Art Gallery, Memorial Exhibition of Works by the Late HH La Thangue RA, 1930, no. 34.
London, Royal Academy, Commemorative Exhibition of Works by Late Members, 1933, no. 187.