As the final week of The Art of Collecting draw near, many of you have commented on the trip down memory lane that our beautiful catalogue inspired. Tales of hidden gems tucked away in the corner of the windows and paintings that caught one’s eye and could never be forgotten were a plenty.
As some of our customers know Gladwell’s old gallery resided in the City of London since time immemorial. In fact, one of the Gallery’s previous owners was the Lord Mayor in the days gone by; John Boydell opened his gallery at 90 Cheapside in the City of London in 1752. This historic gallery passed through many hands until 1907 when it was acquired by Gladwell & Company.
The original ‘Gladwell’s’ called Thomas H. Gladwell opened in 1935 and was located at 21 Gracechurch Street in the City of London from 1836 onwards, before moving just up the road to 87 Gracechurch Street in 1846. From 1879 the company was known as Gladwell Brothers for a short time, but two years later became known as Gladwell & Company, for which it remained known until we moved to 5 Beauchamp Place in 2013.
In 1928 we moved from Cheapside to the corner of Queen Victoria and Watling Street where we had five display windows with which to exhibit the gallery’s fine art collection. It was here that in 1930 my father, Herbert Fuller, began an apprenticeship and would eventually take over the business which we have loved and cherished ever since.
The pictures in the magnificent display windows at Gladwell & Company were changed once a week, the windows were cleaned, the floor polished and handwritten labels with the title of the picture, the artists name and any awards that he had won were displayed for anyone passing to enjoy. As the windows were the Galleries only form of advertising, we relied solely on them to attract both old and new clients.
In the words of our discerning collectors over the past few months, it has become clear how special those windows were, not only to my good self, but to so many of you;
“The love of paintings came when I saw one by Auguste Bouvard in Gladwell’s curved window in the City. I kept coming back to this and despite the price (and in guineas too) I thought about plucking up the courage to get it and raising the money. Weeks later I called in to buy it, but it had already gone to someone much quicker off the mark.”
“The major painting purchased from you was bought to mark our 50th Wedding Anniversary. The painting is (was) symbolic for us as it represented the next generation; it was also an achievement to be able to buy such a painting. My late husband wistfully used to look at your window whilst driving his No 11 bus but we never thought we would be able to purchase a painting from you.”
“My wife and I had attended a reception at the Guildhall and our route home (on foot) took us past Gladwell & Company. We saw a painting that we liked by Allan Myndzak. It gnawed away at me. And my wife said “go for it”, so I did… I did not think at any stage that I was building a collection. I was simply serially submitting to temptation.”
From days gone by at little old Gladwell’s, to our brilliant galleries in Knightsbridge and in Rutland, we have always continued to always acquire the best quality pieces. My raison d’etre is to look around for beautiful paintings. Nothing gives me more pleasure than a great picture and we never buy anything unless we like it.