In 1966 Peter Nahum joined Sotheby's London as a Sales Clerk where, for the first five years he was in attendance at an auction once or twice every day. Each one of these he previewed and learnt about the works in the auctions and, as part of his job, learnt the buyers and the prices, giving him a wide general knowledge. In 1971, he set up the Victorian Painting Department at Sotheby’s Belgravia. He initiated the first sales contracts for every item offered at auction, where no item could be sold without a signed agreement (previous to that items were catalogued for auction and sold by auctioneers without prior written consent). He created the first fully illustrated (every lot illustrated) weekly auction catalogues where every three-column double page spread was laid out and balanced in the department. In 1978 he created regular "Highly Important Victorian Paintings" auctions as a vehicle to promote the best of the era (hard-back catalogues, evening auctions preceded by a champagne reception). Unlike his rivals at Christies he charged for illustrations in the catalogues which gave his clients the ability to choose how they wanted to promote their paintings. He became a senior director of Sotheby's and head of both the Victorian and 20th century British Paintings departments (1850 to the present day) and sat on the chairman’s board. He was also advisor to the British Rail Pension Fund for Victorian Paintings and made the second largest percentage profit for them on sale (the Impressionists were sold at the top of the market and gained the no. 1 slot).
In 1971, at the inception of the Sotheby's Belgravia Victorian Painting Department, Peter Nahum created a picture library not only from the works he was illustrating in the catalogues, but also from any painting that had good reproductive values. He employed a work experience assistant, Philippa Lewis, to manage it who went on to work for Harriet Bridgeman and suggested the idea to her, which became Bridgeman Images.
After Christmas 1983 he resigned and in 1984 set up his own gallery as Peter Nahum Ltd, which later became Peter Nahum At The Leicester Galleries. He now works independently, actively buying and selling and is currently advisor to major private collections and museums throughout the world, signatory on authentication certificates for Victorian paintings sold to Japan and official valuer for the Department of Arts, Heritage and Environment of the Government of Australia. He also acts as a celebrity auctioneer for many charities. He is a television personality, academic, lecturer, author, frame designer and regular lender of paintings to international exhibitions. The gallery website, www.leicestergalleries.com, is considered to be one of the most academic websites covering the period and is used extensively be academics, dealers, auctioneers and collectors.
From 1997 he singlehandedly created the wire-frame and navigational tools for his company, "Online Galleries", (before Google search existed). The vehicle was designed to give the top 5,000 Art and Antiques dealers of the world and their trade associations a selling marketplace with their own online trading shops and websites, under the control of C.I.N.O.A. (the International Art and Antiques Dealers Association). The system continues to do just that.
From 1981 to 2002 Peter Nahum was a regular contributor to the BBC's Antiques Roadshow rediscovering Richard Dadd's lost watercolour Artists Halt in the Desert in 1987, which he later sold to the British Museum and an album of Filipino landscapes sold in 1995 for £240,000. He consistently discovered important and high priced works on the show. Other BBC Television appearances include Omnibus, 1983 with Richard Baker on Richard Dadd's Oberon and Titania, and In at the Deep End,1984, a three-quarter of an hour program during which he taught television journalist Chris Searle to auctioneer. He has also appeared on Breakfast Television, The City Program and Signals and on Sixty Minutes, to name a few, as well as various radio talk shows.
In 1986, Peter Nahum lectured on Victorian Painters as Super Stars - Their Public and Private Art, at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington; in 1993 on The Poetry of Crisis. British Art 1933-1951 at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and more recently The Strange Forces around the Finding of Richard Dadd’s “Artist’s Halt in the Desert” for the National Arts Collection Fund. He lectures to student bodies and various other organisations and takes academic and museum groups around the private collection hanging in his house.
Peter Nahum writes for daily press, for antiques magazines and museum & gallery catalogues.
His published works include:
- Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, OM RA - A Catalogue of Thirty Five Paintings and Watercolours, Designed and edited by Peter Nahum, Sotheby & Co, 1973
- Prices of Victorian Paintings, Drawings and Watercolours, by Peter Nahum, Carter Nash Cameron, 1976
- Monograms of Victorian and Edwardian Artists, by Peter Nahum, Victoria Square Press, 1976
- Victorian Painters' Monograms, by Peter Nahum, W. Foulsham & Co., 1977
- Jessie M. King and E. A. Taylor - Illustrator and Designer, designed and edited by Peter Nahum, Paul Harris Publishing and Sotheby's Belgravia, 1977
- Cross Section, British Art in The Twentieth Century, Peter Nahum Limited, 1989
- British Art from the Twentieth Century, Peter Nahum Limited, 1989
- Burne-Jones, The Pre-Raphaelites and their Century, 2 volumes, by Hilary Morgan and Peter Nahum, Peter Nahum Limited, 1989
- Michael Rothenstein's Boxes, by Mel Gooding, conceived, designed and edited by Peter Nahum, Art Books International Ltd, 1992
- Burne-Jones A Quest for Love, by Bill Waters, co-authored, edited and published by Peter Nahum, Peter Nahum Ltd, 1993
- Henri Gaudier-Brzeska - A Sculptor Drawings, conceived, designed and edited by Peter Nahum, The Leicester Galleries, 1995
- John Tunnard, His Life and his Work, Alan Peat and Brian Whitton (foreword by Peter Nahum), Scolar Press, London, 1997
- Fairy Folk in Fairy Land, by Peter Nahum, The Leicester Galleries, 1998
- Pre-Raphaelite . Symbolist . Visionary, by Peter Nahum and Sally Burgess, The Leicester Galleries, 2001
- Medieval to Modern, by Peter Nahum and Sally Burgess, The Leicester Galleries, 2003
- The Brotherhood of Ruralists and The Pre-Raphaelites, by Peter Nahum and Sally Burgess, The Leicester Galleries, 2005
- Master Drawings, The Leicester Galleries, 2006
- Paul Raymond Gregory; My Secret Book, designed and written by Peter Nahum, The Leicester Galleries, 2007
- Ancient Landscapes - Pastoral Visions: Samuel Palmer to the Ruralists,by Anne Anderson, Robert Meyrick and Peter Nahum, Southampton City Art Gallery, April-June 2008; then touring Victoria Gallery Bath, Falmouth Art Gallery and Cube Gallery Plymouth until 19 December 2008
- Contribution to: Nomi Rowe, In Celebration of Cecil Collins, Visionary Artist and Educator, London 2008, pages 49 - 51
- Past and Present: Edward Burne-Jones, His Medieval Sources and Their Relevance to his Personal Journey, by William Waters and Peter Nahum, in Edward Burne-Jones: The Earthly Paradise, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and Kunstmuseum Bern, pages 179-203, Hartje Cantz, Ostfildern 2009
Paul Raymond Gregory's RingQuest, Narrated by Julian Sands; Narration written by Peter Nahum; Exectutive producer: Peter Nahum; Produced, directed and edited by Mathias Walin; Photography and sound by Martin Sundström.
Since opening his own gallery in 1984 Peter Nahum has sold works of art to various museums throughout the world including:
In USA and Canada:
Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Boston College Museum of Art, Massachusetts; Boston Museum of Art, Massachusetts; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; County Museum, Los Angeles; Dahesh Museum, New York; Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan; Elveheim Museum of Art, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Morgan Library, New York; Middlebury College Museum, Vermont; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute, Washington; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; National Gallery, Washington; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; Princeton University Museum, New Jersey; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California; St Louis Museum of Art, Missouri; University Art Gallery, Middlebury, Vermont; Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota; Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Utah; Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, Connecticut; Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, Los Angeles.
In London and United Kingdom:
British Museum; Imperial War Museum; Leighton House; Museum of London; National Portrait Gallery; Royal Air Force Museum, Tate, London.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Bethlem Royal Hospital Art Collection, Kent; Bradford Art Galleries and Museums; Cheltenham Art Gallery, Gloucestershire; Ferens Art Gallery, Hull; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; Glasgow Museum and Art Gallery; Henry Moore Foundation; Leeds City Art Gallery; Leicester Museum and Art Gallery; Liverpool University Art Collection; Manchester City Art Gallery, Manchester; Penlee House Museum, Cornwall; Rozelle House Gallery, Ayrshire; University of Liverpool Art Gallery; York City Art Gallery; Wakefield City Art Gallery, Yorkshire; National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield, Yorkshire
And in other countries:
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.
Musée de Louvre, Paris; Musée d'Orsay, Paris; Musée de Rouen ; Musée de Quimper ; Musée National Fernand Léger, Biot, France.
National Gallery of Ireland.
Nationalmuseum of Fine Arts, Stockholm, Sweden
Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, Germany
Musée des Fées, Hinoshi; Koriyama City Museum of Art, Japan
Peter & Renate Nahum, The Leicester Galleries and Peter Nahum . Renate Nahum . Agency are consistent lenders of paintings to international exhibitions, including:
- A Brush with Shakespeare, The Montgomery Museum of Fine Art, Alabama, USA, 1985;
- Surrealism in Britain in the Thirties, Leeds City Art Gallery, 1986;
- Surrealismi – Surrealism, Rettretti Art Centre, Savonlinna, Finland, 1987;
- Paradise Lost, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 1987;
- The Last Romantics, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 1988;
- The Last Romantics, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 1988;
- Exhibition Road, 20th Century Painters from the Royal College of Art, London Royal College of Art, 1988;
- The Etruscans, Stoke-on-Trent Art Gallery, 1989;
- Original Illustrations and Paintings of Fairy Beings, Japan, 1988-89;
- I Surrealisti, Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy, 1989;
- Cecil Collins, The Tate Gallery, London, 1989;
- Pre-Raphaelite Patrons, The Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, 1989;
- Field, Farm and Fantasy, Chichester Festival, 1989;
- Valon Juhlaa, Rettretti Art Centre, Savonlinna, Finland, 1989;
- Die Surrealisten, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany, 1989-90;
- Paul Nash: Places, Hayward Gallery travelling exhibition, 1989-90;
- Michael Rothenstein, Stoke-on-Trent Art Gallery travelling exhibition, 1989-90;
- Anxious Visions. Surrealist Art, University Art Museum, Berkeley, California, 1990;
- John Piper in Wales, National Museum of Wales touring exhibition 1990;
- Michael Rothenstein Prints 1950-1990, Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery, touring exhibition, 1990;
- Rossetti, Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo travelling exhibition, 1990-91;
- Peter Fuller Memorial Exhibition, Manchester City Art Gallery, 1991;
- Rothenstein’s Boxes, Royal Academy, London, 1992;
- The Great Age of British Watercolours 1750-1880, London, Royal Academy of Arts, 1993;
- Peter Lanyon, The Tate at St Ives, 1994;
- Lost Paradise - Symbolist Europe, Montreal, Musée des Beaux-Arts, 1995;
- Symbolisme en Europe, Takamatsu, Musée Municipal des Beaux-Arts de Takamatsu, 1996; and then, Tokyo, Musée des Beaux-Arts Bunkamura, Himeji, Musée Municipal d’Art de Himeji, 1997;
- Humanist Landscapes: Humphrey Spender’s Photo-Documents, 1932-1942, New Haven, Connecticut, Yale Centre for British Art, 1997;
- The Age of Rossetti, Burne-Jones & Watts Symbolism in Britain 1860-1910, London, Tate Gallery and then, Munich,Haus der Kunst 1997-8;
- Orientalism, Australia and New Zealand, The Art Gallery of New South Wales and Auckland, 1997 – 1998;
- Sluice Gate of the Mind, The Collaborative Work of Dr Grace Pailthorpe and Reuben Mednikoff, Leeds City Art Gallery, 1998
- Eugene Jansson 1862-1915, Stockholm, Liljevalchs Konsthall, 1998;
- Die Farben Schwarz - The Colours Black, Graz, Austria, Landesmuseum Joanneum, 1999;
- Eugene Jansson (1862-1915) Nocturnes suédois, Paris, Musée d'Orsay, 1999;
- C R W Nevinson: The Twentieth Century, London, Imperial War Museum and then, New Haven, Connecticut, Yale Centre for British Art, 2000
- Symbolist Art in Germany, 1870-1920, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2000;
- Dreamtime: The Dark and the Light, Sammlung Essl, Austria, May-September 2001
- Hitchcock and Art: Fatal Coincidences, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec, touring to Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, November 2000 - September 2001;
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the 1860s; The Blue Bower, Clark Institute, Williamstown, MA, February-May 2001;
- Ben Uri Story 1915-2000, London, Ben Uri Art Gallery at Phillips, January – September 2001;
- The Quest for Camelot, The Arthurian Legend in Art, City Art Gallery, Edinburgh, November 2001-February 2002;
- Exposed: The Victorian Nude, Tate Britain touring to Kunsthandel, Munich, Brooklyn Art Museum, USA, November 2001- January 2003;
- In Ruins, Holburne Museum of Art, Bath, October-December 2001;
- Women Who Ruled: Queens, Goddess, Amazons 1500-1650, Ann Arbour, University of Michigan Museum of Art, then touring to Wellesley College, February -December 2002;
- Jacob G. Cuyp – Nestor of the Dordrecht Painters, Dordrechts Museum, Netherlands, June-September 2002;
- Salome - Iconographic changes of images in East and West, curated by Prof. Kimie Imura Lawlor, London, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, 28-29 March 2002;
- Julio Gonzalez – A Retrospective Exhibition, New York, Dickinson Gallery, May-June 2002;
- Jacob Epstein 1880-1959, Bronze Sculptures, Les Fleurs du Mal drawings and other works on paper, Boundary Gallery,London, 28 June - 3 August 2002;
- Clare Shenstone: Portraits of an Intimate Acquaintance, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, 30 July – 8 September 2002;
- Gertler and His Circle, Boundary Gallery, London, 4 October-23 November 2002;
- Fées, elfes, dragons et autres créatures de féerie including Paul Gregory’s Lord of the Ring Series, Daoulas, Abbaye de Daoulas, Brittany, France, 7 December 2002 – 9 March 2003;
- Graham Sutherland, an exhibition on loan at Olympia, London, 25 February - 2 March 2003;
- The Brotherhood of Ruralists, A Celebration of Three Decades, Museum of Modern Art (The Tabernacle),Machynlleth, Wales, 8 September – 1er November 2003;
- Prunella Clough 1919-1999, Seeing the world sideways, London, Olympia, 2-7 March 2004;
- Ideale e realità. Una storia del nudo del Neoclassicismo ad oggi, Bologna, Galleria d'Arte Moderna, 17 January- 9 May 2004;
- Nils Kreuger, Stockholm, Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, 17 September 2004 - 9 January 2005;
- Graham Sutherland, Dulwich Picture Gallery, 15 June – 25 September London, 2005;
- rarrk -John Mawurndjul: Journey in Time in Northern Australia, Tinguely Museum, Basel, Museum, 2005-2006;
- Barbara Hepworth, Drawings from the 1940s, Loan Exhibition, Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert, London, 12 October – 18 November 2005;
- Stroll on! Aspects of British Abstract Art in the Sixties, MAMCO Geneva, 18 October 2005 - 16 January 2006;
- Vitalismen årt Munch Museet Oslo, 15 February – 15 April 2005;
- Landschaft im Rheinischen Expressionismus, Bonn, August Macke Haus, 19 May-17 September, 2006;
- Aldeburgh Festival Exhibition, Peter Pears Gallery, 9 -24 June 2006
- Paul Raymond Gregory. From the World of Tolkien, Stockholm, Prince Eugens Waldemarsudde, 24 March – 5 August 2007
- The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting, touring exhibition - Yale Center for British Art, New Haven CT, 7 Feb - 28 April 2008; then to Tate Britain 2 June-25 August 2008; Pera Museum Istanbul October 2008 – January 2009 and Sharjah Museum, UAE February-April 2009
- Ancient Landscapes – Pastoral Visions: Samuel Palmer to the Ruralists, Southampton City Art Gallery, April-June 2008; then touring Victoria Gallery Bath, Falmouth Art Gallery and Cube Gallery Plymouth until 19 December 2008
- Tristram Hillier RA, Royal Academy of Arts London, 14 March —25 June 2008
- Utmost Fidelity: The Painting Lives of Marianne & Adrian Stokes, Wolverhampton Art Gallery 31 January 2009 - March 2010, travelling to Southport, The Atkinson Art Gallery, April - June 2009; Harrogate, The Mercer Art Gallery, June - September 2009; and Penzance, Penlee House, Penzance & Royal Cornwall Museum, September - November 2009
- Da Corot ai Macchiaioli al Simbolismo. Nino Costa e il paesaggio dell’anima, Castello Pasquini, Castiglioncello (LI), Italy, 18 July - 1 November 2009
- Alias Man Ray: The Art of Reinvention, The Jewish Museum, New York, 10 November 2009 - 7 March 2010
- Visiones de Don Juan, Santa Ines Exhibition Hall, Seville, 10 December 2009 - 10 December 2010
- Paul Nash: The Elements, the Dulwich Picture Gallery, 10 February - 9 May 2010
- Eugene Jansson, Badsump & Nils Kreuger, Oktoberafton, Apelvik (October Evening at Apelvik), loans to The Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky, June 2012 - June 2012
- Man Ray, African Art & the Modernist Lens, Charlottesville, Virginia, University of Virginia Art Museum, August-October 2010, ex catalogue
- Man Ray, African Art & the Modernist Lens, Vancouver, Museum of Anthropology at The University of British Columbia, October 2010 - January 2011, ex catalogue
- Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer at Manchester Art Gallery and The Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent, January 2011 - March 2012
- Luminous Modernism. Scandinavian Art Comes to America. A Centennial Retrospective 1912-2012,The American - Scandinavian Foundation, New York, October 2011 - February 2012
- Eugene Jansson, Blue Dusk and Naked Athletes, Prins Eugene's Waldemarsudde, Stockholm, February - June 2012
- Burne-Jones at Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo; Hyogo Prefecture Museum of Art, Kobe; Koriyama City Museum of Art, June - December 2012
- Nordic Art, The Modern Breakthrough, Groninger Museum, Holland and Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich, December 2012 - October 2013
- Samuel John Peploe (1871-1935) at at The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, travelling to Aberdeen Art Gallery, October 2012 to October 2013
- Nacke Männer – Macht & Ohnmacht im Wandel (Naked Men – Power & Powerlessness Through the Ages) at the Leopold Museum in Vienna, October 2012 to January 2013
- Masculin-Masculin. L'homme nu dans l'art aux XIXème et XXème siècles at the Musée d'Orsay Paris, September 2103 to January 2014
- Artistic Exchanges - Corot, Costa, Leighton at The National Gallery, London, May to September 2014
- An Appetite for Painting: Contemporary Painting 2000–2014 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Oslo, Norway, September 2014 to January 2015
- Conscience and Conflict: British Artists and the Spanish Civil War at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, travelling to the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle,November 2014 to June 2015
- Tunbridge Kent, Mascalls School, School Prints, 17 January – 14 March
- A Radical View: William Gear as Curator 1958–64, at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, May to August 2015
- John Tunnard. Nature, Politics and Science, at the The Durham Light Infantry, Durham, July to October 2015
- Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) at the Musée de Grenoble, November 2015 to February 2016
- Romantic Landscapes. Paul R. Gregory and the Lord of the Rings at Kunstverein 'Talstrasse' e.V., Halle, Germany, December 2015 to April 2016
- Pre-Raphaelites. Beauty and Rebellion at the Walker Art Gallery Liverpool, February to June 2016
- Paul Nash at Tate Britain, October 2016 to March 2017
- Albert Moore. Of Beauty and Aesthetics, at Museum De Buitenplaats, Holland and York Art Gallery, December 2016 to October 2017
- The Land We Live In - The Land We Left Behind at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, January to May 2018
- Patrick Heron at Tate St Ives, May to September 2018
- 50/50; Fifty Women artists 1910-1960 at the Worshipful Company of Mercers, May to August 2018
- Burne-Jones at Tate Britain, London, October 2018 to February 2019
- Lowry and the Pre-Raphaelites at The Lowry, Salford, November 2018 to February 2019.
Peter Nahum At The Leicester Galleries has put together for exhibition and eventual sale, several important international collections:
- The Poetry of Crisis, British Avant-garde Art 1933-1951. Twenty-five years of collecting to amass over 320 paintings and drawings that evoke the political unrest of these uncertain years, combined with the excitement of new artistic languages. The collection is used as a study collection by museums around the world and has been cited as the most comprehensive collection of the era in the world.
- Aboriginal Barks and Acrylics. A collection of 84 works by Australia’s most prestigious Aboriginal artists, formed carefully over twenty years. There is a steady stream of requests from international museums to borrow from the collection. There is a collection of Aboriginal artefacts that accompanies this collection.
- Lady Sale and the First Afghan War 1838-1844. A comprehensive collection of 130 original paintings, watercolours, lithographs and photographs which record the First Afghan War and the Kabul Disaster. On January 6, 1842, a British force that, with its followers who numbered some 16,000, marched out of Kabul under an illusory safe conduct; one week later, all of them bar about twenty-four - men, women, and children- lay dead along the ninety mile route, mostly killed by the Afghan enemy, the rest frozen to death in the snow – the worst tragedy to happen to the British Army to that date.
- Scenes from JRR Tolkien's “The Lord of the Rings” by Paul Gregory – The Monumental Series 1978-2005. It was in the late 1970’s that Paul Gregory started on his twenty-five year journey to describe, on great canvases, his vision of Tolkien’s mythical world of “The Lord of the Rings”. There is no coincidence that the film echoes Paul’s images, as they were live on his website during its making.
Burne-Jones Catalogue Raisonné - www.eb-j.org:
Peter Nahum, from November 2017 to March 2018, built the online website for the Burne-Jones Catalogue Raisonné and
acts as adviser and coordinator to the project. The expert administrative team consists of:
William Waters, the primary Burne-Jones expert;
Dr. Alison Smith, Curator of Victorian Art at Tate Britain, chief curator of the Burne-Jones retrospective exhibition at Tate Britain 2018, and now chief curator at the National Portrait Gallery;
Dr. Hilary Underwood, primary Victorian expert
Dr. Fiona Mann, Burne-Jones scholar.
Catalogue Raisonné Online - www.raisonneonline.org:
Peter Nahum, in March 2018, built the online web system to run all catalogue raisonnés and collections - available to any institution and member of the public.
Peter and Renate Nahum donation to the Paul Mellon Centre Library, by Emma Floyd, the PMC librarian, May 2018:
In December 2012, the centre’s library received its largest ever gift: the Peter and Renate Nahum donation of over 2,000 books, exhibition catalogues, and journals. The scope of this donation is unprecedented its subject range and depth, as well as in the number of noteworthy items that it contains.
The donation comprises materials on nineteenth- and twentieth-century British art and artists. The depth of coverage on each artist is notable and has added greatly to the Library’s holdings. The donation was timely and arrived just as the Library’s collecting policy was expanded to include post-war and contemporary art. Its great strengths lie in areas such as Victorian painting and twentieth-century sculpture, where the library’s holdings were already good. But it also makes major contributions to smaller areas of the collection, such as British Surrealism, the art of the Second World War, and post-war British artists’ exhibition catalogues. For example, it has more than doubled our holdings on the influential art historian and critic Herbert Read (1893-1968) and has added an entire set of books on the artists Maxwell Armfield (1881-1972) and Conroy Maddox (1912-2005).
There are treasures such as the very rare This Man: A Series of Wood-Engravings by Elizabeth Rivers (1903-1964) as well as a number of books by Claude Flight (1881-1955) such as Linocuts: A Hand-book of Linoleum-cut Printing (1934), and the rare Christmas and Other Feasts and Festivals (1936). There are also copies of scarce exhibition catalogues, such as an original edition of This is Tomorrow, the catalogue of the seminal Whitechapel Art Gallery exhibition held in 1956. There is great depth to the donation: an original copy of Unit One: The Modern Movement in British Painting, Sculpture and Architecture by Herbert Read (1934) is accompanied by catalogues of later commemorative exhibitions: Unit 1: Portsmouth Festival Exhibition 1978 (1978) and Unit One: Spirit of the 1930’s: May-June 1984 (1984).
The donation also includes extensive runs of significant journals such as The Studio: An Illustrated Magazine of Fine and Applied Art (1890s-1960s), Horizon: A Review of Literature and Art (1940s) and The Year’s Art (1890s-1940s). Of particular note are asset of volumes of The Pageant, a short-lived journal from the 1890s; issues 1-7 of Motif: A Journal of the Visual Arts, from the early 1960s; and two issues of AXIS: A Quarterly Review of Contemporary “Abstract” Painting and Sculpture edited by Myfanwy Evans in the 1930s. The donation is consulted regularly by the Library’s readers and has proved itself a useful tool for teaching groups of students. Our own research projects at the PMC have also been supported by various published series in the donation relating to the Royal Academy, such as Royal Academy Pictures, Royal Academy Illustrated and Academy Sketches. A selection of these will be appearing in the Centre’s forthcoming Drawing Room display.
This donation has broadened and enriched the Centre’s Library holdings to an unprecedented degree and we are enormously grateful to Peter & Renate Nahum for their generosity. It has been catalogued and integrated into the Library collection and is available for consultation in the Centre’s Public Study Room.
Peter Nahum was Chairman of Contemporary Arts Trust. Contemporary Arts Trust, www.contemporaryartstrust.org traces its roots back to June 1999. The Trust’s objective is to assist deserving artists who show promise; to encourage them to remain in the arts and continue on their creative journey. Contemporary Arts Trust encourages every discipline within the Fine Applied Arts. Since its formation the Trust has given more than £375,000 in prizes and awards.
Peter Nahum now spends all his time on The Burne-Jones Catalogue Raisonné Foundation charity (above).
Peter Nahum, during his career at Sotheby's, conducted a great many auctions, at the most productive time at least once a week. Since leaving in 1984, he was the first official auctioneer in Athens to conduct auctions specialising in Greek paintings for Stavros Mihalarias. Now he auctions for Charity. Amongst others, he conducted the first charity auction for Sam Wanamaker at Shakespeare's Globe before it opened and more recently, in 2005, for Mark Rylance also in aid of Shakespeare's Globe.
Peter Nahum has designed and built frames for the neo-classical painting by Frederic Lord Leighton in Sydney’s Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia; for an important watercolour by Dante Gabriel Rossetti for the Adelaide Museum of Art, Australia; for the masterpiece in Llandaff Cathedral, Wales: the triptych by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and for other museums and many private collections.
Changing Agency Law:
In 1997, Peter Nahum changed Agency Law in Britain. In 1992, he sold a painting by Thomas Gainsborough, owned by the Royal Holloway College, to a private client for £3,200,000. He openly disclosed the name of the client to the college as agreed. In 1993, the College asked him to sell their painting by Constable for £8,000,000. His friend, the agent for the buyer of the Gainsborough, declared they were not interested, but continued to milk Peter Nahum for information. The Royal Holloway College later declared they had sold the painting. Some months afterwards, Peter Nahum found that the College had gone behind his back and sold the painting to his client, whom he had introduced to the college. He sued the College for his 2 1/2 % fee and won, in both the Law Courts and the Higher Courts. The 1997 judgement changed and clarified Agency Law for the better. Peter Nahum's analysis: In the Commercial world we have a currency - it's called money - if we steal it we go to jail. In the academic world they have a currency - it is called Intellectual Property - they steal it from their pupils and their colleagues consistently. In the case of the sale of the painting by Constable, they brought their morals into our commercial world.
Negotiating for the Art & Antiques Trade for the formation of an eBay associated company.
In 1999 at the Winter Antiques Show in New York, Peter Nahum promised the dealer exhibitors, in response to Sotheby’s pitch for dealers to sign up to www.sotheby.com, to unite the trade on the internet. As a result, having telephoned Jeff Bezos of Amazon and received no encouragement, he returned to England and called a meeting between the senior visiting team from eBay with representatives from all the British Trade Associations.
The meeting with the Trade Association representatives, chaired by Peter Nahum’s partner Andrew Alers-Hankey, was held on the evening of March 11, 1999 to bring them up-to-speed for the eBay meeting the following day:
Minutes of Meeting Held at 7 Doughty Street on 12 March 1999
Scott Barnum eBay.com
Karin Bauer eBay.com
Rajiv Dutta eBay.com
Gordon Cooke S.L.A.D. and I.P.D.A.
Anthony Marks L.A.P.A.D.A., C.I.N.O.A., and B.A.D.A.
Mark Dodgson B.A.D.A.
Jolyon Hudson A.B.A. and I.L.A.B.
Peter Nahum The Proposal
Andrew Alers-Hankey Chairman
Walter Feilchenfeldt C.I.N.O.A.
Anthony Preston B.A.D.A.
William Agnew B.A.D.A.
Helen Linfield L.A.P.A.D.A.
Welcome by Andrew Alers-Hankey.
AH said that the Trade Associations would like to cover a number of issues, and asked Scott Barnum if this would also form an agreeable agenda for eBay. This was agreed.
Introduction to eBay.com by Scott Barnum.
SB began with a brief background of eBay, a four year old company based in Silicon Valley. The idea grew from the founder's wife (then girlfriend) wanting to contact other collectors of Pez candy dispensers. The founder was a software engineer in Silicon Valley, and a dinner-time conversation grew to the business as it is today. eBay stands for Electronic Bay, the bay being the San Francisco Bay Area and reflecting the concept of bay as a safe harbour for confident trading.
Rajiv Dutta made an electronic presentation from his portable computer, with SB providing the narrative. SB promised to provide copies of the electronic presentation. He went on to explain that there are three main forms of e-commerce;
1.business-to-business, e.g. Cisco Systems, a business support provider on the Internet.
2. business-to-person, e.g. Amazon.com, the bookseller, selling direct to the public.
3. person-to-person, e.g. classified advertisements.
eBay is the leading exponent of category 3.
eBay models itself on four pillars:-
1. brand name - people know the name and come back.
2. profitability - it is one of only three or four e-commerce businesses that is profitable, and has been from the outset.
3. reputation - the business has established an enviable reputation for reliability and quality of service.
4. growth potential - it ranks amongst the top internet companies.
Growth is rapid, with 2.2 million users as at end December 1998 rising to 3 million by the end of February 1999. The business boasts the largest person-to-person trading site; person-to-person trading comprises 3% of e-business, with 97% shared between business-to-business and business-to-person commerce.
The business itself is presently US-centric; 90% of users are in the US, with some 200,000 users in the rest of the world (February 1999).
At the end of the fourth quarter 1998, over 14 million items had been listed, with products ranging from high-end antiques to "Beanie Babies". The average value for an item is under $100, but sales can range from $1 to $100,000. Gross merchandise value stood at $750,000,000 at end of 1998, which represents almost a monopoly of the market share, and as a result competitors have found trading difficult. eBay.com has been profitable from the start, the venture capital seed money has not been used and it is the most successful venture-backed company trading in Silicon Valley.
For the high-end market, competitors are relatively new to the business in terms of internet trading: Millionaire.com, and Sotheby.com who is in the process of setting up the site. Overseas trade has been in Australia, Europe, and the Far East, with projected growth in these areas of higher income. Last year one million listings came from outside the US, with users from 90 different countries registered. In fact international potential for e-commerce is huge. Whilst today 60% of internet usage is within the US, by 2002 it is predicted by the pundits that 60% will be outside the US, predominantly in higher income countries where English is widely spoken (the UK, Scandinavia, the Netherlands [currently 4,300 users], Germany, France, the Far East). For example, in Finland, 53% of the population has internet access, compared to 30% in the USA. The global market is very similar to the US model, with a fragmented market of collectors closely following demographic trends. In the next four years it is predicted that 300 million people worldwide will be connected to the internet.
eBay is in the process of customising individual country sites, with, for example, an Intranet for the UK market, tailored to the Queen's English with local services and content, linking up with the US-based (and global) eBay.com site.
eBay offers a safe and fun forum in which to trade, and sellers and buyers tend to come back, creating an ever-growing circle of 'subscribers'.
Trading is based on a bidding process, with a minimum start price and an average of a three to seven day bidding period. A buyer will pay a fee to eBay for listing an item, and this cost is very modest, somewhere in the region of 15p to £1, depending on the value of an item. Once a buyer has bid successfully, they then send payment directly to the seller. The sold item is then sent direct to the buyer, and the seller pays eBay.com commission on the final sale price. Cost of freight is agreed between seller and buyer. SB reported no problems collecting commission; a seller will want to return, and non-payment would jeopardise this.
When a seller approaches eBay.com to list an item, they choose the category, title and description, and have the option to include an image, choose shipping terms (whether costs will be borne by buyer or seller), the length of auction period and the minimum price required. The only fees payable are the insertion fees, feature fees, and the final value commission fees. eBay recouped $50 million last year in revenue from these seller fees. A high proportion of expenses are put back into marketing and branding.
During the bidding, both buyer and seller have the opportunity to check out each other's credibility and buying/selling history. For each listing, a buyer has the option to e-mail the seller and to look at the seller's ID, which is presented as a feedback archive showing the number of transactions, the number of good and bad comments from previous buyers, along with the chance to view these comments in full and to contact previous buyers. Similarly a seller can contact a buyer once a bid has been made, and check out their buying history. The two can establish a dialogue during bidding, and interactivity freely available.
When concern was expressed that some people might choose to trade under pseudonyms and change e-mail address to avoid being caught for non-payment of commission, sales, etc., RD explained that anonymous e-mail addresses were not permitted, and stringent filters & cross-checks were in place to verify that users were legitimate. A security service is available for a modest fee: roughly $5 a year. He also mentioned that insurance cover is automatically provided free of charge on items under $200, which covers fraud, breakage, loss etc. Users are required to submit credit card details when registering, and whilst this is a perfectly safe, interesting electronic payment solutions are currently being developed by the banks.
SB stressed that eBay.com offers a broad service, empowering individuals and providing a safe environment in which to trade. The appeal of eBay to users is similar to other companies which
have succeeded in branding, such as Coca-cola. The business appeals to both logic and emotion (the functional and the irrational), where buyers and sellers alike can accomplish trade whilst at the same time connect with others around the world who share their passion for, say, porcelain, in the way that trading at fairs does not allow individuals to do on such a global scale.
For the buyer, trading on the internet allows great selection, is convenient, and buyers pay only as much as they think an object is worth, for a low cost of acquisition. For the seller, a major advantage is great value for money, the ability to dictate when the auction will take place, and an instant shop front for the item to be sold, with very low overheads (the cost of the listing).
Sothebys' site is still in development, but they plan to control all financial transactions, and want to distance themselves from the lower end of the market, which they see eBay to represent. They will be trading strategically on their reputation and in the high-end market.
eBay.com is the second most frequented site on the internet, below Yahoo but well above Microsoft and AOL, both of whom preceded eBay. The next twenty-four months would see eBay.com establishing sites in individual countries.
Karin Bauer mentioned that she will be attending the Collector Fair at Shepton Mallett this weekend, where eBay.com has a booth equipped with terminals and free internet access. She felt it was important to establish a presence in different fairs to draw collectors' attention to the site and the potential of collecting on the internet. eBay would also be collecting categories for their UK site at the fairs.
Peter Nahum then introduced those attending from the various trade associations.
He highlighted the importance of the membership lists each association boasts. S.L.A.D. has over 100 members, the I.L.A.B. has a membership of over 1,000, C.I.N.O.A. worldwide over 3,000 members, B.A.D.A. the oldest trade membership in the UK, and L.A.P.A.D.A. the largest trade membership in the UK.
Walter Feilchenfeldt, the incoming President of C.I.N.O.A. was unfortunately unable to attend but he is in favour of the initiative, and Anthony Marks would be reporting directly to him on the meeting.
PN stressed that the power of the trade associations lies principally in their great expertise. Walter, for example, is the world expert in Cezanne, and is amongst the top three authorities in the world on van Gogh. Both Sotheby's and Christie's appear to have chosen to divest themselves of expertise and instead choose to concentrate on commerce and Sotheby.com exploits the expertise of the members of the trade associations.
The difference in standards between the associations and the big auction houses is that all the members of the associations subscribe and adhere to a code of conduct, to which offended customers can turn. Sotheby's and Christie's lack this basic integrity; their sales catalogues have four pages of disclaimers.
The turnover of the larger trade associations is huge, each turning over in excess of Sotheby's UK. Last year B.A.D.A. members turned over £550,000,000 in the UK alone. S.L.A.D. members: £700,000,000. L.A.P.A.D.A. members: £300,000,000.
Jolyon Hudson explained the objectives of the Trade Associations.
Sotheby's have come up with an electronic commerce proposal, but JH wondered if this was the correct course to pursue. It had a number of factors in its favour; the prestigious name, the quality of the service linked with the company's history. Links to the site would be regarded as a hallmark of quality. The fear, though, is that Sotheby's would merely be exploiting the expertise of members of the trade associations, wanting to control the market without having to do the hard work such as cataloguing etc. Sotheby's share of the market would become enormous.
JH was aware that, as individuals, members of the trade associations would not have a great deal of influence; but if they joined together as a cohesive, powerful group, they would become a considerable commercial force.
JH explained that Christies' and Sothebys' models for internet trading would be based on their auction house practices; a 10% commission would be payable on all items (buyers & sellers), with payment direct to the auction house for redistribution by them.
JH explained that eBay.com's ecumenical approach might be detrimental to trade, and the associations had expressed concern that items might, by association, be devalued as a result. SB said that Amazon.com had managed to marry high-end with low-end, and eBay.com would be willing to consider "creating a separate brand" for a high-end joint venture with the associations.
JH emphasised the value of information members of associations had in their mailing lists, and also the documentation members
keep on items; whilst photo libraries have a ready source of pictorial information, they very rarely have accompanying descriptions, which are invaluable.
AA-H said that the Trade Associations were to explore the possibility of for a partnership or joint venture for members of the associations. SB wondered if this meant profit-sharing, or equity and AA_H said that at this stage it was simply necessary to understand that the members of the Trade Associations would be impressed by a measure of control over their destiny and some form of participation in a successful outcome. It was emphasised that a stake in the business would be important for the dealers, who it was suggested would prefer to be taken on board as a whole industry rather than treated individually as dealers in the existing system at eBay.com. A separate brand would fit the participation well.
JH stated that, as a group, the dealers have been trading internationally for two or three centuries. Concerns such as tax, a country's heritage, shipping, etc. have all been part of international business for centuries, and this expertise cannot be bought. Gordon Cooke mentioned that dealers already have lists of loyal clientele (those who have not bought for a while are removed from mailing lists, which can thus be considered up-to-date and accurate). The dealers would be bringing valuable customers to the e-business.
SB said that this was certainly an interesting concept for eBay.com, whose branding and high-end users could be considerably enhanced. He would have discussion with his CEO and he was aware that there had been considerable interest in the high-end market during talks with Sothebys, which ultimately failed. (Butterfields, the Californian auctioneers, are also not going ahead with eBay).
JH said that geographically, the dealers are spread very wide, and form a powerful body representing all the major disciplines. The distribution is already in place. The dealers would benefit from the internet as a means of displaying photographs and descriptions of items which lose something in fax and on the telephone.
RD said that eBay.com have the model for the business, with $30 million investment in complex technology. RD stressed how the technology had evolved over years of work, and Andersen Consulting had been impressed by the complexity of the system to be able to successfully handle the real time database which kept track of everything.
It was pointed out that the term 'auction' is used freely and transactions on eBay.com would more aptly be described as
bartering or pricing. This was not seen as a major concern, however, provided certain codes of conduct were observed to ensure an item listed for sale on the internet was not going to be sold, for example, in the dealer's shop prior to the close of bidding.
Karin Bauer put it to the assembled representatives of the trade associations that they would need to think about a management committee and organisation structure. PN said that this was something he had thought about in depth. JH said a proprietorial entity would appoint the management. Full co-operation of the members of the associations would be needed, and a mandate necessary before they could proceed.
AA_H asked if eBay could address the possibility of a joint venture in the very near future, with proposals from eBay requested in time for a meeting on 25 March amongst members of one of the associations. The subject of e-commerce was at the forefront of people's minds. SB said that he would be able to report within a week or two.
Concern was expressed that a binding legal contract had been made with Sotheby's, and PN asked SB if he had had a chance to discuss this with his legal department. He had not yet had a chance, but would endeavour to do so, well aware that all concerned needed to know the legal position.
SB said that he believed the partnership would be an interesting marriage of capabilities and assets. When asked by PN about eBay's future with the high-end market, SB told him that they were looking into opportunities with shipping, insurance, and escrow companies which would enable more trading with the higher end.
The team from eBay.com thanked the Chairman, Proposer, and members of the trade associations for their time, and promised to respond without delay.
(Subsequently, SB telephoned PN and asked him to provide the following information, where available, on the Associations: number of members; gross turnover in £/$; and geographical spread.)
Follow up meeting in San Jose California at eBay headquarters.
Andrew Alers-Hankey and Peter Nahum flew out to San Jose to meet the full team of eBay including the CEO, Meg Whitman, the CFO, Rajiv Dutta, the CTO and the founder and owner, Pierre Omidyar. The meeting took place over a full day where eBay gave a presentation to create a business within eBay for the dealers of C.I.N.O.A. As Andrew Hankey succinctly put it the figures didn’t add up, and during the meeting, it subsequently emerged that eBay had bought Butterfields, the San Francisco auctioneers. As a result, no business was possible between the two bodies. eBay were keen to continue. Peter Nahum wrote the following email:
By fax. 001 408 369 4839
April 10, 1999
At war, a choice:
To attack the enemy with second-hand weapons on its own
territory, where it knows every inch of the ground and where its
highly trained army has been honing its skills in a highly
competitive situation for years. And no element of surprise.
To lure the opposition into your own country where you own all
the 'smart' weapons and in which their crack troops may fear to
With best wishes,
In 2002, eBay sold Butterfields at a loss of over $200 million.
Peter Nahum’s website and portal company, Online Galleries Ltd, created the finest Websites for the Art and Antiques Profession. Online Galleries has, in addition, designed and built the website portals C.I.N.O.A. (the over-body association for the top 30 National Art & Antiques dealers associations in 20 countries and their 5,500 members) and their member associations such as for the B.A.D.A. (The British Antique Dealers Association), SLAD (The Society of London Art Dealers), for LAPADA (The Association of Art & Antiques Dealers), for SKAF (Sveriges Konst- och Antikhandlareförening, Sweden), for the Associação Portuguesa dos Antiquários, for NAADAA (The National Antique & Art Dealers Association of America). The central antiques search for. www.OnlineGalleries.com together with www.CINOA.com represent " The World's most Respected Art & Antiques Community". Online Galleries Ltd was sold in 2012 to 1st Dibs.
Online Galleries History
- 1989 June – Grosvenor House Antiques Fair
- 1997 March - LAPADA
- 1999, January – Winter Antiques Show New York & International Fine Art Fair, Palm Beach
- 1999, January – Winter Antiques Show, New York
- 1999, March – eBay London
- 1999, April – eBay, San José
- 1999, April – eBay
- 1999, July, Santa Fe
- 1999, September, San Francisco
- 2000 January-September
- PN begins the long task of putting together the three dimensional complicated and innovative architecture
- 2000, September
- PN creates Penseroso Ltd & .com and employs 2 programmers and a designer to build the CINOA systems from his house
- Designs and builds Penseroso website systems
- Wins contract and builds BADA website
- Builds BADA portal with online galleries included
- Designs website for PADA (members not in agreement)
- 2003 -2004 September - September
- PN and his wife (accounts) run out of savings and close company; but continue to run BADA and websites and sell online galleries etc
- 2004 September
- Builds LAPADA website and portal
- CINOA directors requests a test site and request deal on full portal
- PN and Steven Ward hold meetings with Henry Neville
- 2005- 2006 November - May
- Peter Cameron takes over and heads up the project
- PN hands over the architecture and rational and all up and running systems
- PN remains as director and advisor
- Company valued at £2,000,000
- First round investors on board
- 2008 January
- The second-round investors gained their shares.
- 2012 Online Galleries sold to 1st Dibs