Collecting and dealing

Scope and Content

The material in this sub-collection - relating to the collecting, buying and selling of works of art - was found scattered across Sewell's papers and brought together during the process of cataloguing It includes:

-catalogues advertising the sales Sewell organised, or co-organised

-notebooks in which he recorded the details of pictures, bronzes, and furniture he bought and sold

-appointment diaries showing when he visited auction houses, etc

-complete sale catalogues and extracts from sale catalogues which Sewell annotated with the dates and sold prices

-receipts and invoices for works of art and furniture

-correspondence relating to the buying and selling, attribution, and loans of pictures

-insurance valuations of works of art, books, and furniture bought by Sewell

-photographs of works of art

Administrative / Biographical History

Sewell bought and sold many works of art, bronzes and pieces of furniture. Some were traded in his capacity as an independent dealer, others whilst he was acting as an advisor for institutions or friends, including Joe McCrindle, and many were purchased for his own art collection.

Following the completion of his studies at the Courtauld Institute of Art, Sewell worked at Christie's Auction House, London from 1958 until 1967. After he resigned, and following a period of uncertainty about his future, he obtained a loan from a friend, the English painter Eliot Hodgkin (1905-1987) which he used to begin buying and selling works of art independently. According to his 2012 autobiography, Outsider II Always Almost: Never Quite (p.15), in 1967 Sewell 'trawled many private dealers in old master drawings working from homes in Kensington, Hampstead, St John's Wood and even Golders Green...' . It was from these contacts that he was able to prepare his first exhibition of items for sale which was held at the Alpine Gallery, South Audley Street, London in 1967, and his career as an independent art dealer began. Although Sewell turned to journalism in the 1980s, he continued to buy and sell works of art in a private capacity, and act as an advisor for other parties for the rest of his life.

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