The destination of the collection of Peter Rose and Albert Gallichan was decided at the turn of the 21st century. It must have been a difficult decision to make but the establishment of the Albert Dawson Trust to support study and scholarship of 19th century fine and decorative art, was a perfect recipient for the funds that would be raised from the sale of the collection. (The name is formed of Peter and Albert’s middle names).
The collection was begun in the 1950’s when Peter and Albert were living together - as cousins - in an attic flat over an antique shop in Hampstead. Friends who shared their unfashionable enthusiasm in those early days are long dead and there is no record of what sparked their interest. Things Victorian were the butt of cartoonists jibes, the Festival of Britain was fresh in peoples memories and ‘contemporary’ was the watchword for interior decoration.
Antique shops were full of unwanted Victoriana; the BADA begrudgingly extended its date limit to allow Regency pieces to be exhibited at the Grosvenor House Fair but banned anything later. Peter and Albert’s early acquisitions were chosen for their evocative quality rather than their intellectual conception. Papier mâché chairs and bois clair drawing room furniture furnished their modest early abodes. A terrace house in Richmond followed the Hampstead flat and then, in 1965, they moved to 1 Montpelier Villas in Brighton and from then on their scholarship blossomed. Christopher Dresser, W A S Benson, the Martin Brothers and Willian de Morgan exercised their curiosity and soon began to dominate the increasingly crowded house along with furniture by named designers; and they were in the vanguard of collectors of French Studio pottery. Doulton pottery and its many decorators became an engaging subject with Mark Marshal’s sculptural pieces a particular favourite. Peter’s purchase of a portfolio of Hannah Barlow’s drawings lead to research into her and her fellow Doulton decorators.
Their research into designers and makers lead to lectures and publications in Great Britain and America, early retirement allowing Peter to concentrate his research into the metalwork of W A S Benson and George Tinworth which resulted in authoritative volumes on both subjects.
Although the house was furnished with pieces of museum quality they lived a perfectly normal life surrounded by their treasures, entertaining in style with good wine chosen by Albert and delicious food cooked by Peter.
Their sense of humour was evident in the Nature Room that began life as the Bad Taste Room! It over flowed with things inspired by or actually made from natural things ranging from shell pictures to a door stop made from and ostriches leg. Pottery by Blanche Vuillamy became a slight obsession and sat happily alongside other grotesquerie.
Charles Handley Read emphasised the importance of keeping detailed records of their acquisitions and they obeyed. Every piece had an inventory card with a photograph of the object and details of where purchased and the price. Notes on provenance and subsequent research were added, with receipts and catalogues being filed separately. The archive is an important record of the collection and of the antique market in the second half of the 20th century. It is destined for the Brotherton Library in Leeds where it will eventually be available to students and a scholars. This permanent record of a remarkable collection together with the Albert Dawson Trust will ensure that the remarkable achievement of Peter Rose and Albert Gallichan will be preserved in perpetuity.
Lyon & Turnbull’s Decorative Arts & Design specialists are renowned for both their knowledge and their sales of artworks conducted from our Scottish auction house based in Edinburgh and via our live online auctions. Our specialists are experts not only on design from 1860 to the present, but also on current market conditions, an essential combination to any successful auction.