Records of Galerie Besson

Scope and Content

The archive includes

  • Purchase day-books and ledgers, sales day-books
  • ledgers and invoices
  • correspondence with and information about artists, including collected catalogues and letters dating back to the 1960s
  • correspondence, catalogues and visitors books from the exhibitions in the gallery
  • photographs of objects and of exhibitions at the gallery
  • correspondence with other galleries and with collectors, etc., and routine correspondence with landlords, accountants, etc. Also some correspondence and other records of Anita Besson's work at Fischer Fine Art, 1985-1987

Administrative / Biographical History

Anita Besson set up Galerie Besson to promote ceramics on the international market. A Swiss, she had visited Britain in her teens and fell in love with England. She was introduced by a family friend to Lucie Rie.

After graduating from the University of Geneva, she moved to London at the age of 20 in 1953, and worked as a translator for International Co-operative Alliance for four-and-a-half years. Irritated that her employers would not allow her to attend a conference in Lausanne, where she could have stayed with her sister, she decided to leave, and applied for a job as secretary at Marlborough Fine Art. When Harry Fischer moved from Marlborough Fine Art to set up Fischer Fine Art in 1972, AB went with him. She worked as a director at Fischer Fine Art for 16 years. The gallery concentrated on fine art and sculpture, but in the 1980s, after Harry Fischer was succeeded by his son Wolfgang, AB was permitted to exhibit ceramics, and the gallery exhibited works by Lucie Rie and Hans Coper in 1984 (?), followed by the 'Nine Potters' exhibition in 1986. Despite the huge success of both exhibition, ceramics was still only a small part of Fischer Fine Art.

A collector suggested that she should set up her own gallery, and offered to finance it, but her lawyer advised that it would be better for her to go alone. The bank used by Fischer Fine Art loaned her £250,000 without a quibble. When AB first heard that the Arcade Gallery at 15 Royal Arcade in London's West End was available, she rang up and made an appointment to visit that very day. They were asking for offers above £50,000 - she was so determined to get it, she offered £80,000. Negotiations went on for months, very complicated, and she kept it all secret for fear of being gazumped.

Galerie Besson opened at in April 1988, and mounted more than 200 exhibitions in its 23 years of existence.
The gallery was closed in June 2011 as Anita Besson moved on to consultancy work.


  • BES/1 AB's work on ceramics at Fischer Fine Art
  • BES/2 Galerie Besson Financial records
  • BES/3 Publicity
  • BES/4 General correspondence
  • BES/5 Private purchases
  • BES/6 Artists: Correspondence and information
  • BES/7 Exhibitions
  • BES/8 Loans
  • BES/9 Photographs of objects and exhibitions
  • BES/10 Photographs of artists
  • BES/11 Celebrations
  • BES/12 Visits abroad

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Shirley Dixon, Crafts Study Centre Archivist, April 2020.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue on Crafts Study Centre database. A pdf copy is available on request.

Information about artists and exhibitions at Galerie Besson can be found on the Galerie Besson website .

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.


None expected.