Job Title: Head of Old Master Paintings and Drawings

Responsible for: No direct reports

Purpose of job: Overall responsibility for the sale of Old Master Paintings and Drawings in line with the department and business year-on-year growth objectives 

Main contacts: Internal: Executive and Managing Directors, other specialist departments (especially Modern and Post-War British Art, 19th and 20th Century Paintings and Portrait Miniatures, Urban & Contemporary Art, and Interiors, Homes and Antiques), client liaison and other business functions especially marketing and communications

External: Collectors, dealers, galleries, other auction houses

Contract type: Permanent

Hours: Full-time

Location: Based at Chiswick HQ but with frequent visits to Chiswick South Kensington


Opportunity:

Driven by the enthusiasm and savoir-faire of the current head of department, over the last two years our Old Master sales have grown markedly in stature and expertise. Strong research skills, carefully considered attributions, and the development of close relationships with a wide range of experts in the field, have ensured consistently strong consignments and excellent results in our thrice-yearly sales featuring both oils and works on paper.  

Engagement with the trade and Christie’s and Sotheby’s Old Master Departments has proved especially fruitful, as has the development of our client base abroad, notably in France and Italy. Time has been spent too nurturing relationships with private collectors, attracted to Chiswick Auctions for our accessibility and client service. OMP viewings are regularly attended by the leading gallerists and dealers from the West End, and our sales ardently followed online by buyers around the world.

For an expert passionate about the field, keen to grow their expertise, who has a commercial eye and a strong understanding of the breadth and depth of the Old Master tradition, this is a golden opportunity to shine: to pick up the baton left by our outgoing head of sale and develop their existing network of private and trade contacts within the UK, across the Continent and beyond.  


Context

Chiswick Auctions is a privately owned, well-established London auction house that is fast becoming a major player in the international art market. With 20 specialist departments, regular dedicated and themed sales are held across a breadth of specialisms. In addition, monthly Interiors, Homes and Antiques sales contribute to a busy calendar of 100 auctions per year.

The main headquarters is based in Chiswick, with a showroom in South Kensington (CSK), and with regular valuation events held in the UK, Italy and Greece. Chiswick Auctions employs around 55 staff.

We are seeking to appoint a Head of Old Master Paintings and Drawings. This Head of Sale position works alongside the Head of 19th and 20th Century Paintings and Portrait Miniatures, the Head of Post-War and Modern British Art and other specialists and department coordinators all overseen by the Head of Paintings and Fine Art. The postholder will be responsible for putting together three Old Master sales per year, which typically include paintings from the Renaissance to the Romanic period of British and European paintings and drawings, with a target of £150k per sale.


Areas of Responsibility

Responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:


Strategic and business development

  • Develop business contacts and strategic opportunities, including developing auction and private sales strategies

 

  • Identify and maintain relationships with all client categories (collectors, dealers, other auction houses especially the main three in London)

 

  • Liaise on material in the field with other internal Chiswick Auctions’ departments: pre-press, marketing, public relations etc.

 

  • Proactively research and gather information into the marketplace/trends/buying and selling patterns and order to devise a business development strategy for the Sale

 

  • Identify and grow the client base for sourcing and selling of Old Master Paintings and Drawings.

 

Consignments, valuations, cataloguing, pre and post-sale responsibilities

  • Take lead responsibility for the consigning of artworks to the Sale, and coordinate the work of others in this respect

 

  • Respond to incoming walk-ins, written, phone and email enquiries to determine sale potential, along with other members of the department

 

  • Work with colleagues to determine provenance, authenticity, value, condition, and marketability

 

  • Oversee the Department Coordinator with respect to the photography of the art works

 

  • Catalogue consignments and work on the production and layout of the online catalogue, and any associated e-catalogue with the Department Coordinator

 

  • Coordinate and drive pre-sale exhibition set-up, including any displays at CSK (usually limited highlights only)

 

  • Alongside colleagues in the team, work with potential buyers to provide condition reports, and attend weekend exhibitions, to market and sell the sale

 

  • Work with the marketing and communications team, to help develop a coordinated marketing plan to achieve budgeted sale totals

 

  • Participate in telephone bidding with clients during the auction, as required

 

  • Participate in the full after-sales analysis, and implement any agreed changes

 

General

  • Ensure compliance with all internal policies and procedures and any relevant external bodies or processes

 

  • Participate in organisation-wide meetings, activities and processes, and develop internal contacts, networks and interactions as appropriate

 

  • Actively participate in events, valuation days, and other functions to represent Chiswick Auctions e.g. Chiswick Lates at CSK (currently on hold during the Coronavirus pandemic)

 

  • Carry out other duties as required by the Head of Paintings and Fine Art, Directors and Managing Director

 

Person Specification

 

Essential qualifications skills and experience

 

  • A qualification relevant to the field

 

  • Proven knowledge in the field of Old Master paintings and drawings gained both through study and work experience

 

  • Experience in the field, preferably at a top auction house

 

  • Proven ability to develop relationships with the major collectors, dealers, auction houses and galleries

 

  • Excellent writing skills in English, and ability to combine an understanding of the material with a commercial sense of marketing and promoting value

 

  • Excellent verbal communication and interpersonal skills, including first class spoken English

 

  • Ability to work to tight auction deadlines, balancing photography, cataloguing, sale organisation, marketing and promotional details

 

  • Experience working on projects of all sizes, long- and short-term; demonstrated ability to prioritise a variety of concurrent projects

 

  • Excellent knowledge of the Microsoft 365 Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, Outlook etc)

 

  • Ability to learn Chiswick Auctions’ systems, with excellent IT proficiency

 

  • Superior customer service skills

 

  • Strong follow-up skills with attention to detail

 

  • Ability to thrive within a fast-paced team environment

 

Desirable knowledge, skills and experience

  • Some fluency in a foreign language, preferably French and/or Italian