Impression of an impressionist at Clarendon Fine Art in Hampstead High Street

James Ward, manager of Clarendon Fine Art which opens in Heath Street Hampstead

James Ward, manager of Clarendon Fine Art which opens in Heath Street Hampstead - Credit: Archant

Contemporary impressionist Sherree Valentine Daines painted Dead Ringers comedian Jon Culshaw at the opening night party,

Jon Culshaw and Sherree Valentine Daines

Jon Culshaw and Sherree Valentine Daines - Credit: Ash Knotek

At the opening party of a new Hampstead art gallery, impressionist Sherree Valentine Daines painted Hampstead-based impressionist Jon Culshaw

Works by Chagall and Picasso will be showing alongside contemporary painting and sculpture by rising stars at Clarendon Fine Art.

The gallery chain, which already has nine locations including Mayfair and Chelsea, has moved in at 76 Hampstead High Street.

The opening collection features work by modern impressionist Sherree Valentine Daines, avant-garde expressionist painter Todd White, Sky Arts Portrait Artist Christian Hook, BP Portrait nominee Toby Mulligan and wildlife bronzes by award-winning sculptor Hamish Mackie.

Jon Culshaw and Sherree Valentine Daines

Jon Culshaw and Sherree Valentine Daines - Credit: Ash Knotek

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They will exhibit alongside pieces by Lowry, Chagall, Picasso, and ex Hampstead sculptor Henry Moore.

Gallery Manager James Ward, 35, previously worked for Earl Spencer at Princess Diana’s family seat Althorp for 15 years.

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Hailing from Northamptonshire, he joined the estate as a teen and went on to manage the house, which holds one of Europe’s largest private collections of furniture, painting, and ceramics.

“I was there man and boy since I was 16, I am a local boy and joined when the Princess Diana exhibition was on,” says the former professional Polo player.

“I’d go back between school and university. His Lordship was very kind to me over the years giving me more and more opportunity. He has always been a custodian for Althorp. All he wants to achieve in his life is to pass it on to his heir in better shape than he inherited it.”

It was Ward’s job to show clients and family around the house.

“There’s a stunning collection: Rubens, Reynolds, Gainsborough and so many amazing stories. One piece in the Picture Gallery called War and Peace by Van Dyck is on a list that if it’s sold privately it can’t leave the country.

“There are also eight ladies known as the Windsor Beauties, all mistresses of Charles II. When the king came to visit he would have a portrait done of his current mistress and stick it on the wall.”

Ward, a former professional polo player and cast member for reality TV show Shipwrecked, hopes to bring that passion and appreciation for art to his work at the gallery; moving from old masters to contemporary pieces and selling to mostly wealthy individuals buying artwork for their homes.

“We focus on contemporary works by artists who are up and coming, creating a name in the art world, with a range of landscapes, portraits, figurative work.”

Ward picks out Marco Grassi whose coloured, textural portraits with gold foil sit alongside 20th Century modern masters.

About to move to Hampstead, he adds that with its connections to artists over the centuries, it has a “wonderful vibe”.

“Hampstead has an incredible reputation for art and we just want to add to that vibe, be a lovely welcoming place for people to come and have a look around an exceptional collection and add to the lively village ambience.”

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