Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

1 How did you get your start?

I first got into pictures back in the 1970s after an invitation to a fine art auction in Edgbaston. I was immediately hooked and splashed out on four pictures costing a few hundred each; not such small money at the time.

But, who could I sell them to? One Saturday I set out for the Cotswolds with the paintings. It took just two visits to galleries to sell them all at a small profit. Perhaps I was cut out for this, I flattered myself.

So, for the next five years or so I carried on buying at auctions around the country and selling to established galleries in the Cotswolds, London and elsewhere.

2 What was one early lesson?

One of the first things I learned to avoid was any picture that had been restored or needed urgent attention. Original, well-preserved brushwork is everything, and that remains my focus. I would rather handle a typical but untouched work by a lower-valued artist than a crumbling or patched-up work by a greater one.

3 Who do you admire from the art and antiques world?

The late dealer, author and TV arts presenter, Christopher Wood. His comprehensive work The Dictionary of Victorian Painters is considered ‘the bible’ for that period. I once called on him at his Belgravia gallery and was delighted when he bought a picture off me and it was illustrated later in his dictionary’s second edition.

4 What is one great discovery you’ve made?

A complete archive collection of over 300 original 1960s illustrations for the memorable Ladybird Books series Learning with Mother and Key Words Peter and Jane.

The Little Aston artist Harry Wingfield came into the gallery one day with his small landscape paintings, asking if I would be interested. I thought the landscapes were of little interest but the Ladybirds were important social history and pure nostalgia for children and parents of the 1960s. In one Christmas exhibition alone, the gallery sold 140 to folk from all over.

5 What is one thing you couldn’t do without?

My eight to nine hours sleep every night.


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