The art of the perfect fit

Head of Sale, Old Masters Paintings Department

Posted: 02.11.2022
Contract Type: Full or Part-Time
Job Type: Permanent
Pay: Negotiable
Location: London, UK
Tenure: Permanent, UK>London
Job description:

On behalf of a London Auction House we are looking for an experienced specialist to take overall responsibility for the sale of Old Master Paintings in line with the department and business year-on-year growth objectives. This is a full time role, but 4 days would be considered.

The post-holder will put on three sales in the 12 month period; the department curate nine sales a year in total, with dedicated sales in Old Masters, modern and post-war British, and 18th and 19th century British and European fine art, including watercolours, oils, prints and portrait miniatures.

If this is of interest we would love to hear from you.

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 (collectors, dealers, galleries etc)
  • 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 & selling patterns
  • Identify and grow the client base for sourcing and selling of Old Master Paintings

Valuations, cataloguing, pre and post-sale responsibilities

  • Respond to incoming walk-ins, written, phone and photo enquiries to determine sale potential
  • Arrange shipping for pre-sale consignments
  • Work alone and with colleagues to research Old Master Paintings to determine provenance, authenticity, value, condition, and marketability
  • Work with the photography team to coordinate photography
  • Catalogue consignments and work on the production and layout of the catalogue
  • Coordinate and drive pre-sale exhibition set-up, including any displays
  • ¬†Work with buyers during sale week, 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
  • 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 organization-wide meetings, activities and processes, and develop internal contacts, networks and interactions as appropriate
  • Actively participate in events, valuation days, and other functions
  • Carry out other duties as required by the Directors and Managing Directors

Person Specification

Essential qualifications skills and experience

  • A qualification relevant to paintings and fine art
  • Proven knowledge in the field of Old Master Paintings, gain both through study and work experience
  • Experience in the field, preferably at auction, but also within the trade or at another relevant institution e.g. gallery or own business
  • Proven ability to develop relationships with the major collectors, dealers 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 Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, Outlook etc)
  • Superior customer service skills
  • Strong follow-up skills with attention to detail
  • Ability to thrive within a fast-paced team environment