The art of the perfect fit

Head of Old Master Paintings & Drawings

Posted: 30.03.2021
Contract Type: Full-time
Pay: Negotiable
Location: London, UK
Tenure: Permanent
Job description:

Our client has an established and growing Old Master Paintings & Drawings Department. 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 the thrice yearly sales featuring both oils and works on paper.

Engagement with the trade and other Old Master Departments has proved especially fruitful, as has the development of a client base abroad, notably in France and Italy. Time has been spent too nurturing relationships with private collectors. OMP viewings are regularly attended by the leading gallerists and dealers and 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 the outgoing head of sale and develop their existing network of private and trade contacts within the UK, across the Continent and beyond.

Areas of Responsibility

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
  • Liaise on material in the field with other internal 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
  • 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


  •  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 the business

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 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