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1 How did you get your start?

Both Jess and I began at Phillips Auctioneers and, as was the way then, at the bottom. I was a saleroom porter and she worked in the general office. It was a great way to learn about the business, the people and the mechanics of the market.

2 How did you choose your focus?

I joined Phillips with a background in 16th and 17th century art but began to see the amazing works by British 20th century artists. Jess moved from Phillips to the gallery Browse & Darby and saw another side to the Modern British world.

3 What is the first sale you remember making?

When we first left London and our respective positions at Sotheby’s and Browse & Darby, we took time to work out how we could help the collectors we knew and simply talked to people about their collecting.

We wanted to try to match the works we handled with exactly the right buyers to help them enhance their collections rather than offering pieces to everyone. One of the first sales we worked on was placing a beautiful Frank Auerbach painting of a head with a collector for whom it was almost the manifestation of a dream picture.

4 What is your ‘holy grail’ – a picture you would love to find?

Wyndham Lewis’ lost large Vorticist painting Kermesse, which was in the collection of John Quinn in the 1920s. It may have been destroyed in a fire but I like to believe it is rolled up in an attic somewhere.

5 Real ale or espresso martini?

In Suffolk we are blessed with some brilliant local breweries, so real ale.


If you would like to be featured in 5 Questions, please contact francesallitt@antiquestradegazette.com