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Old Masters, Modern Masters: Drawings from the Hussey Bequest

[ Exhibition )

Drawing of an eagle's head

To mark Pallant House Gallery’s 40th anniversary in 2022, we explored a selection of drawings from our founding collection, the Hussey Bequest.

Old Masters, Modern Masters told the story of Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester Cathedral 1955-1977, and his unique private art collection – a collection that was formed with the help of his artist friends, and bequeathed to the city of Chichester. The drawings on display in the Print Room span 500 years of British and European history and include works on paper by Giulio Romano, Jean-Antoine Watteau and Thomas Gainsborough.

Walter Hussey was a patron of the arts and is best remembered for commissioning modern artists to create work for the Church. Several of these artworks can still be seen in Chichester Cathedral today.

As a result of his church commissions, Hussey became close friends with a number of Modern British artists including David Jones, Henry Moore, John Piper, and Graham Sutherland, all of whom are represented in the exhibition.

These artists allowed Hussey to buy their work for reduced prices; they educated him on contemporary art, and advised him on which historic works to buy for his collection. Their views could be contradictory with the artist John Piper writing to Hussey in 1958 to tell him,

 

‘Don’t listen to Graham and Kathy [Sutherland] on the subject of abstraction as opposed to figuration. And don’t listen to the Huxleys on the subject of art at all.’

Yet, the influential dialogue and exchange of education between artist and patron became vital in shaping Hussey’s collection, as well as these artists’ own works. The sculptor Henry Moore famously said to Hussey that, ‘it is only through our art that we can understand your theology.’

The theme of influence, and the passing of knowledge between artists and patron reveals a compelling story, which is told through the unique juxtapositions of Old Masters and Modern British art.

This bijou exhibition offers a rare chance to some the extraordinary ‘hidden secrets’ housed at Pallant House. Never has there been a better time to hop on a train south.

The Wick

Highlights from the exhibition

Drawing of an eagle's head

Guilio Romano, Head of an Eagle

Drawing by Annibale Carraci of a reclining male nude

Annibale Carraci, Study of a Male Nude

Two sleeping figures under a blanket by Henry Moore

Henry Moore, Two Sleepers

Chalk drawing of human figures by Jean Antoine Watteau

Jean Antoine Watteau, Etude de Quatres Personnages, avec Deux Femmes Assises

Interior of Saint Sulpice during service by John Scarlett Davis

John Scarlett Davis, Interior of St. Sulpice, Paris

Painting of Chichester cathedral from the Deanery by John Piper

John Piper, Chichester Cathedral from the Deanery

John Robert Cozens, View over Greenwich

Paul Nash, Wittenham

Thomas Gainsborough, A Suffolk Lane

Watch our behind the scenes content

Rediscovering a Lost Story

Visiting West Sussex Record Office

A View from the Deanery

Graham Sutherland's 'Noli Me Tangere'

John Piper's Tapestry

Marc Chagall's Stained Glass Window