I have been extremely fortunate to have handled many exceptional paintings and collections over my years in the business but one of the most satisfying was the recent auction of the Fine Art Collection of George D Horst.
Amassed between the years 1911 and 1929, the sixty three works in the auction were originally destined for the local Reading Museum until a dispute between Horst and the museum directors led him to build his own private gallery in the grounds of his home in 1924 where they remained until earlier this year.
Evenly divided between European artists such as Corot, Boudin and painters of the Barbizon School and American artists including Hassam ,Benson and the leading Pennsylvania Impressionists, Garber and Redfield, the collection represented a fascinating insight into the collecting sensibilities prevalent in the early 20th century. Virtually untouched and unseen, such 'time capsule' collections very rarely appear at auction and seeing it hanging on the walls for the first time was an exciting moment and one that I will never forget.
The sale created huge interest worldwide and after an extensive marketing campaign including the production of an accompanying video and tours to London and Washington the sale was a resounding success with every lot selling - a rare 'white glove' auction - setting new records for nearly a third of the artists represented and almost quadrupling the pre sale estimate. While the end result was hugely gratifying the process of working with the consignors, to researching the artworks and laying out the catalog was equally rewarding. A memorable and enjoyable experience all around.
Alasdair Nichol serves as Freeman’s Vice Chairman and is head of Freeman’s Fine Art departments, and is a regular appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow where he specializes in American Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture. Mr. Nichol oversees the auctions in the country specifically dedicated to Pennsylvania Impressionists, including the New Hope School.
Mr. Nichol joined Freeman's in 1999 and is now the Vice Chairman, having established the Fine Art department as a significant force in the art market. Mr. Nichol has lectured extensively in both the United States and the United Kingdom at universities, art schools, societies and private clubs on a variety of subjects ranging from the Art Market to the Pennsylvania Impressionists and Scottish Art. An experienced auctioneer of 25 years, he has presided over sales such as the Lehman Brothers & Neuberger Collections, the Taffner Collection and the George D. Horst Collection of Fine Art.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Nichol originally trained as a painter in Aberdeen and then Belfast where he graduated with a Master's Degree in 1984. Along with thirty other young artists he was selected to represent the UK in an international exhibition and his work was shown in London, France and Germany. In 1985 he embarked on his career in the auction world with Phillips in Edinburgh before moving to their sale rooms in Glasgow and London prior to becoming the Head of the Fine Art department in New York. Mr. Nichol has wielded the gavel at countless charity auctions raising millions for numerous worthwhile causes. An appraiser on Antiques Roadshow since 1998, when he is not traveling he divides his time between Philadelphia and his home in Manhattan.