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 is Chairman and Director of Fine Art at Freeman's. Mr. Nichol and two colleagues acquired Freeman’s, which had been held within the same family for six generations, in a friendly management buy-out in 2016.
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Mr. Nichol studied Fine Art at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen before graduating with a Master’s degree from the University of Ulster in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was one of 30 students chosen to represent the UK in a major international traveling exhibition with venues in London, France, and Germany.
In 1985, he embarked on his career in the auction world with an international house in Edinburgh before moving to Glasgow, where he organized the first sale of Scottish Contemporary Art at the world renowned Glasgow School of Art. Mr. Nichol subsequently moved to the auction house’s main saleroom in London, where he specialized in Modern & Impressionist Art, before transferring to New York as Head of Fine Art in 1997. In 1999, Mr. Nichol joined Freeman's. As an auctioneer for almost 30 years, he has sold many significant collections and set countless world records. He has wielded the gavel at numerous charity auctions, raising millions for worthwhile causes both in the UK and US.
Since 1998 Mr. Nichol has regularly appeared on the top-rated PBS program Antiques Roadshow. A Clyfford Still painting that he appraised for $500,000 is amongst the most valuable finds on the show.
When not traveling, Mr. Nichol resides in Manhattan with his wife, Susi, and their two sons, Stevie and Lachie.