12 May 2010

Sotherboy: Bruce Chatwin at Sotheby's

Long before he became a celebrated traveller, novelist and controversialist, Bruce Chatwin was a 'Sotherboy' – a precocious young art expert for the famous auction house. Fifty years later, his colleagues recall Chatwin's Bond Street days with affection.

By Christian House

The Independent, Sunday, 16 November 2008

On a crisp winter morning 50 years ago Bruce Chatwin stepped off New Bond Street and into the galleries of Sotheby's for the first time. He was an 18-year-old, dough-faced boy straight from Marlborough College. The following eight years spent at the auction house were to prove pivotal. They would inform his unique prose style, introduce key themes to his work, provide him with a wife and create a lasting fascination with the allure of objects.

The world into which Chatwin entered that morning was experiencing a dramatic change. That season the art market had shifted up a gear, much as it did in September this year when Sotheby's hosted the groundbreaking Damien Hirst auction. In October 1958, the company staged the first black-tie evening auction of Impressionist paintings ever held in London. The Goldschmidt sale changed forever the way in which art was marketed, auctioned and desired by a new global audience. Bond Street was awash with reporters, their bulbs flashing on a dizzying array of dinner-jacketed bidders.

Read on...

Copyright 2009 Independent News and Media Limited


Belle de Ville said...

I never knew that Chatwin had a background in the auction biz. I thought that he had been a journalist.
It's been years since I've read Chatwin. Didn't he write that crazy story about the collector with the room full of Meissen porcelain objects?

A.E.F. said...

B de V - Utz.