Brian Sewell: Critic & Collector, Christie’s London King Street, 27 September 2016
It can really come as no surprise that the taste and connoisseurship of the legendary art critic, author and award-winning journalist, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) should be commemorated in this special sale at Christie’s next week. The two hundred and forty-eight lots range from Old Master paintings and drawings to 19th and 20th century British Art and reflect many years of collecting. Estimates range from £600 to £600,000 and I feel sure that some estimates will be well exceeded.
Following his studies in Art History at the Courtauld Institute he went on to work at Christie’s in the picture department between 1958 and 1967. His colleague Noël Annesley (Honorary Chairman, Christie’s UK) recalled: “Brian was a young man of 27 when he joined Christie’s. As his assistant, I got to admire him and to like him enormously. He evolved from a rather shy, cerebral art historian turned auction house expert into one of the most famous and widely read British art critics of our time. Brian was a man whose opinions were sought not just on art but on a wide variety of topics, reflecting the exceptional range of his interests. He could be relied upon to provide witty and often devastating judgements. A wonderful instructor, serious but humorous too, he set a standard for us all.”
The current UK Chairman Orlando Rock said: “Brian Sewell was, undoubtedly, one of Christie’s most colourful and learned former colleagues. What always motivated him was his love of great art and its power to move and inspire, combined with his characteristic and acerbic wit.”
I was fortunate to meet him on many occasions through colleagues and always found him to be a very approachable man who had a great sense of what is right and was not afraid to speak out when things were not. Our world is in need of such voices today but sadly they appear to be becoming fewer.