"Peregrine Heathcote was the youngest ever student of Heatherly College of Art in London. Aged just 8, he attended holiday classes in printmaking and nude drawing. On his return to the Berkshire Prep School he regaled his fellow class mates with the stories of his holiday experiences. When he saw their faces, his chest filled with bravura as his recounted drawing a beautiful naked girl on an old mattress.
Son of an Antiques dealer specializing in militaria, he was brought up in a house by the Thames crammed fill with uniforms in glass cases, swords, canons and relics from various historic sea and land battles, more like a museum than a home. Instead of the usual Disney merchandise, on Peregrine’s childhood bedroom walls hung fabrics from the far and middle east, the room was dominated by an ornate large brass studded tea chest and was decorated with a collection of hats from around the world.
Peregrine’s early life was surrounded by unusual things and unusual characters. Aged 10 he inherited 1938 Arthur Mulliner Rolls Royce. The car was stored in a dusty dark garage and he would sit in the back seats breathing in the deep old leather smells and imagining himself on far away adventures. The grandfather who bequeathed such a fine inheritance ran the 20 Ghost Club for many years and as a result the car travelled all over the world collecting trophies maps and memorabilia along the way. Peregrine would spend hours absorbed in the log books and maps from the various journeys the car had taken. References to these can often be seen in his pictures today both as props and atmosphere.
His maternal grandfather was a test pilot for the RAF and Peregrine would often stay with him in Wales listening to adventures of flying secret missions over Europe. He would sometimes take his girlfriends into the skies and impress them with acrobatics and the beautiful views of the landscape. As a result of many years flying, his log books filled with detailed information including the pane types and flight destinations. Heathcote has often used these for inspiration to produce compositions with the same planes and romantically linked couples embarking or returning from various journeys echoing the ones that filled his imagination from his grandfathers stories.
A couple of weeks after his last A-Level exam Peregrine set off to Italy to discover the drawing and paintings techniques used by some of the most famous artists in history. Staying in a medieval dusty Palazzo in Via Santo Spirito and with a “Ciao” from the African Grey parrot every morning, he would at 7:15am, walk the eight minutes too the Chiesa di San Raffaello Archangelo. This was the church where Michelangelo and Rafael prayed before journeying out of the ancient city of Florence through the Porta Frediano. The old church had been converted in the early nineteenth century by the sculptor Bartolini, pupil of the painter Jacques-Louis David into an artist’s studio. Being the first to arrive every morning Peregrine would work at his drawings for a couple of hours before receiving his tutorials from the eccentric and renown Yale graduate and multi-award winning artist and art historian Charles H Cecil. Here Heathcote learned the nuances that could be achieved in tone and colour later seen in pieces like “Listen to the Colour Of Your Drams”, “First Class Ticket” and “Who Was the Girl”.
On his return to London after a heady three years in Florence, Peregrine initially set up as a portrait painter. This lead to some notable commissions from Captains of Industry and Celebrities from the Entertainment World which in turn brought him to the attention of a film production company. After some interviews and a screen test the BBC started to film him painting a portrait at the famous London Palladium and finished the program with him unveiling the piece at the Royal Academy.
Five months later, just after the program aired on the BBC 2 during prime time capturing 24% of the total viewing audience on TV and satellite, he had his first show at the Albemarle Gallery in London. The show was a retrospective of several portraits borrowed from Clients and a couple of new “Journey” pieces with automobiles and planes reflecting the influences of his grandparents and childhood. The show went well and a second bigger was booked for the following year.
Peregrine’s pictures hang in notable collections across the globe. In particular, his work caught the attention of many American galleries. Peregrine now regularly sends work out to galleries in Boston, Greenwich CT., Nantucket, Scottsdale, San Francisco and Laguna Beach as well as Cape Town, South Africa. Despite several advances and a few shows in galleries in New York he still has yet to find the right more permanent match in this city.
Peregrine’s models must all have a natural beauty and elegance, their bodies a graceful line and the ability to adopt a natural ‘contraposto’ and both the men an women should have the capacity to portray that wonderful silver screen romance. Peregrine often uses original vintage dresses many of which were made for petit women so getting the right model in today’s world where agencies tend towards much taller girls can be tricky. He therefore often uses Dancers and Actresses, as well as models who know how to use their bodies to tell his stories and bring them to life. The dapper men and elegant girls come from all over the world bringing with them their exotic international presence. At the last casting call there were over 840 replies from those only three were chosen for the recent set of paintings. A petit, pale golden haired, Siberian girl modeled for “A Day To Remember” and “Who Was That Girl”.
At Heathcote’s studio there is an extensive wardrobe of props, clothing, hats, toy cars, planes and trains which appear in the paintings. Once the right models have been chosen each scene is set up and the composition arranged often to include once of the signature suitcases complete with travel labels which used to belong to Peregrine’s late mother. She unfortunately died a few months before the BBC program aired and it seems that he has immortalized her presence in his work by using these references to her possessions.
Over the last year the average time it has taken to sell a new piece once it arrives at one of the galleries has been about two weeks. To accommodate those who have missed out on purchasing once of these paintings occasionally Heathcote issues an image in a small number of 10-15 Limited Edition Giclee Prints signed and numbered. These prints are further certified with a unique Heavy Duty Embossing Seal with the Peregrine Heathcote Studio Logo."