An Anecdote

A few years ago an expert on English art from Christie's came to see Granddad’s work at his apartment. He thought it was all incredible, and wanted to promote and sell his work. For a number of reasons that didn't happen in the end, but a few years later my grandfather changed his mind, purely because if his work was to later find itself on display, then it was important that there be some record of him selling as an artist.

Unfortunately, the critic who evaluated his work previously had since departed Christie's, and so someone else came to see his work instead. Her first words after seeing his paintings were "are they all so small?"*, which i think my grandfather was quite offended by. But she chose a couple of paintings to sell, and they took them away. However, while the previous expert wanted to sell my grandfather's work alongside established artists, this new lady wanted to sell them at the tail end of a furniture auction, and her guideprice evaluation was less than a quarter of what the previous expert had suggested.

Of course, he wasn't selling for the money, so the return was of little importance, but seeing his work devalued from one person to another like that reaffirmed in his mind that he had made the right decision in shunning what seemed to be a brand-led, shallow industry.

I try to look at the positives, that being that for someone to have their work sold at Christie's is a big achievement, especially if they've been effectively invisible for 50 years. My grandfather, however, only sees negatives; that a piece of art's worth is determined largely by how famous the artist is. The money wasn't important, but he wanted his work to be seen by fans of art, not furniture collectors.

I have been trying to track down the chap who first came to see his work, but Christie's don't seem keen to give me his contact details (if they even have them), and google isn't helping.

*Most of my grandfather's paintings are quite small (about 30-50cm by 40-80cm). These make up the bulk of his collection, and are what he showed to the experts who visited him at home. But we have since learnt that he has been working on some large paintings in secret, which he has never shown to anyone outside the family (i think he has around 10 so far, and each measures approx 150cm by 130cm). I only got to see them in the last couple of years. In my uneducated opinion, these are definitely his best works.