With Craig, her business partner and soulmate of 33 years, she founded Finch and Co and developed the brand from its weekly showing at Portobello to one of today’s most highly respected and charismatic dealerships.
Appearances at major fairs came to be supplemented by a twice-yearly exhibition in St James’s and joyous, rigorously researched, lavishly produced and informative catalogues which have become the mainstay of many a dealer’s library.
Passion and flair
Built on passion, flair and appetite, Finch and Co’s public outings are contagiously enthusiastic, not only for the works of art which they feature but also the civilisations, cultures and people who produced them.
Whenever there was a respite from work the Finches were to be found in far-flung places enjoying local food and music, two of their other principal enthusiasms.
Even as recently as September last year, and despite Jan’s illness, they travelled to Venice for a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata at the Teatro la Fenice and re-visited many of their favourite haunts.
Jan was naturally curious with a tremendous thirst for knowledge and always keen to hear others’ stories and opinions, whether to do with works of art, business or life in general. She supplemented these interchanges with a broad spectrum of reading and was widely informed in the personal sense as well as scholarly in the professional.
As a partnership Jan and Craig were incomparable, developing a unique business which prized the unusual and mysterious above the purely commercial, and trusting their unique and individual tastes to guide them along the way.
Adventurous in their selection of objects, they were just as imaginative in their presentation, causing regular gasps from visitors who encountered them for the first time as well as their regular devotees.
While Finch and Co will continue to flourish, it is difficult to contemplate without Jan’s quiet, unassuming yet ever-present persona.
Bold, instinctive, compassionate, tough if necessary, thoughtful, loyal, fiercely protective of those whom she held most dear, and empirically wise, she fought the illness which fate had dealt her with the spirit of a mountaineer, aware of the gravity but living each moment with her whole heart.
It is both obvious and inadequate to say we will never see her like again, and her absence will leave a gaping hole in the industry, but her influence and the firm’s presence will thankfully be felt for decades to come.
By Ted Few