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Pieter Tillemans 1684 – 1734
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Pieter Tillemans 1684 – 1734

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A panoramic view of Ashburnham Place, near Battle, in Sussex, the seat of John Ashburnham, 1st Earl of Ashburnham (1681-1736).


Oil painting on canvas 70 x 116 inches, and contained in a fine Georgian carved and gilded frame.


Provenance: Painted for the 1st Earl of Ashburnham, and thence by descent at the house until sold, 15th July 1953, when acquired by the Scratchley family, whence by descent until acquired by private treaty by us from the last owners.


Pieter Tillemans was born in Antwerp, and trained as an artist there. He was brought to England in 1708 by a picture dealer - perhaps because of his versatility in imitating the works of various Old Masters. In his early career he is thus politely called a "copyist" - a more censorious age would call him a faker! Despite this doubtful early reputation, Tillemans soon established himself at the centre of artistic life in London, and was amongst the pioneers of the new English genre of topographical and of sporting painting. In this he was the rival of Wyck and Wootton. Tillemans' main patron was Dr. Cox Macro, who built up a substantial collection of his works in his house in Suffolk (where, indeed, Tillemans died in 1734). Both the Macro collection, which is well documented, and the catalogue of the sale of the contents of the artist's studio after his death, give us an insight into Tilleman's versatility as a painter. Thus we have Battle scenes, sporting pieces, topographical and idealised landscapes, market scenes and occasional sea pieces, portraits and still lives. This might imply a simple jobbing painter, willing to take up his brush for whatever opportunistic commission presented itself. If Tillemans' quality were low, this would be fair criticism, but in fact he is as accomplished a painter in these fields as virtually anyone in his era.

The present painting typifies the English passion for topographical landscapes in the early 18th century centred on the “Great House” in its large estate.


The present painting hanging on the main staircase wall.
Photographs taken c.1950 before the dispersal of the contents.

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