“To this day man and woman never cease to amaze me with their skill, craftsmanship and ability to create beauty which takes my breath away and has been known, on occasions, to reduce me to tears.”Anthony Fuller
Gladwell & Company is one of the oldest established art dealers in London. It is where the current gallery’s origins lie. Founded in 1752 by John Boydell, the company originally specialised in the commission of fine prints from the prominent artists of the period such as Reynolds, Romney and Fuseli. The business developed over the years, dealing with etchings and mezzotints as well as embracing fine oil paintings and watercolours.
The gallery was based in the City of London for 260 years. Steeped in history, its illustrious forebears ranked amongst the leading art historians of their time and included two Lord Mayors. The company generously donated to the collections of the National and National Portrait Galleries, bequeathing oil paintings by Reubens and Reynolds. Royal Warrants were held by Gladwell & Company to Queen Victoria as printsellers, Queen Alexandra as picture dealers, King George V as publishers and printsellers and to Queen Mary as fine art dealers.
In the late 19th century, the then heir to Gladwell & Company, Harry Gladwell, travelled to Paris where he made an impression on a struggling young artist, one Vincent Van Gogh, who was working at the French art dealer Goupils. Harry, it seems, was a bon viveur with an idiosyncratic appearance. “Thin as a stick,” judged an 18-year-old Vincent van Gogh. “With two rows of strong teeth, full red lips, a pair of large red protruding ears and close cropped hair. At first every one laughed at him, even I.”
Over the course of the 20th century the gallery’s fortunes became indelibly entwined with the Fuller family, who still run the business to this day. Three generations of Fullers have worked for the company, each bringing their own particular vision. Anthony Fuller, the gallery’s present Director and owner, whose father joined the gallery in 1927 and subsequently acquired the business, has been at the helm since his father died in 1980. Anthony has been ably assisted for the past 20 years by two of his children, Glenn and Cory.
“Growing up surrounded by fine paintings has a curious effect on you. Almost without knowing it, you become immersed in the wonderful world of art and the life and workings of the gallery. Seduced by the romance of travelling around the world and finding extremely special works of art, combined with the joy in meeting some unique and talented artists along the way, your very soul gets affected.”Glenn Fuller
“My first memory of the world of art was one of excitement and anticipation, with my father coming home from his fortnightly trips to Paris, laden with paintings that he had bought from various artists and auctions in France. It became a family tradition that my brothers Glenn and Stuart, and myself would sit on the stairs in awe, whilst my father unwrapped pictures and we would choose our favourites.”Cory Fuller
In 2004 Gladwell and Company purchased the well-regarded W. H. Patterson gallery in Mayfair and in 2013, Gladwell & Patterson moved to its wonderful new location at 5 Beauchamp Place, Knightsbridge.
Entering the beautifully monochromatic door of 5 Beauchamp Place, it is hard to not be affected by the wonderful selection of curated pieces that adorn the walls. There is a passion about the selection of each painting that is tangible – devoid of oneupmanship and the obvious. This is a body of work that reflects the deep passion and exquisite eye of its owners. It is fair to say that the Fuller family has art entrenched into its gene pool, with Anthony celebrating 50 years at the gallery in 2018. Like his father before him, he has passed on his passion to his two children who have bought a fresh, modern perspective to proceedings that has meshed wonderfully to create a truly global operation that is true to its family’s heritage while expanding its influence – holding regular exhibitions all over the world.
Surrounded by stunning works by Loiseau and Montezin, Moret and Barbier, it is easy to understand the desire to collect. Their beauty is intoxicating. We are greeted by Cory Fuller, who leads us into a seated area that is surrounded by beautifully painted landscapes and seascapes, still lifes and figures. The various scenes and sizes hang perfectly together.
So, as custodians of a 267 year old business, how do you preserve all the best of the old while embracing the new? “Art has been our family business since my grandfather started working at Gladwell & Company,” Cory explains. “As a family it has been a real source of pride to help continue building a business with such an illustrious history and the honour of a Royal Warrant.” Part of that pride comes from the Fuller’s proven ability to discover artists – demonstrated by the fact that they buy the majority of their stock outright, ensuring that they believe in every picture and are passionate about the artists they champion.
The procurement of art is growing in popularity. According to the most recent analysis, global art sales total nearly £52bn annually, a 10% increase since 2008, with some 40m transactions made last year alone. With passion as your starting point, it is crucial to have the right partner to help build your collection. Experience counts for much in the art world as does a discerning eye, exquisite taste, a depth of knowledge and tenacity. “We seek the finest examples of an artist’s work for the keenest price for the client,” Cory continues. “Giving meaningful advice and taking care of all the practicalities and formalities of acquisition from export licences, museum loans and certificates to Catalogue Raisoneé inclusions and research. Where our value is most keenly felt is to avoid our clients falling foul of chandelier bidding at auction houses, or buying paintings in poor condition, fake signatures, or buying works of dubious authenticity.”
The Fuller family are proud of the relationships they build with collectors and artists alike. It is a symbiotic relationship that informs all concerned – “clients experience the thrill of acquisition; they learn from us as we learn from them.”
Many clients may walk through Gladwell & Patterson’s gallery doors and buy art because they love it, but more will return and embark upon the journey that is forming an art collection. This requires advice on how to choose each individual piece in relation to another within the artist’s life work. It requires being able to effectively research, evaluate and assess the quality of each piece individually and as a whole, to see how to group the works together to curate meaningful collections – how the works relate one to another and how to present and hang the collection. Purposeful acquisition from the gallery or at auction needs time, energy and expertise. This can be at any level or starting point and collections grow with confidence and as finances allow.
“Collecting art is about forming a relationship with someone in the art world who you trust,” Cory explains. “Our clients’ trust and our reputation are our most valuable assets as an old established company and we hold them very dear to us. Our secret is buying well and we spend many hours of the day searching, travelling and seeking the real treasured pieces as well as building long term relationships with our artists. We listen to our clients and their families who have specific objectives to collecting; to create a significant portfolio, for philanthropy or patronage of younger artists. An art collection is an especially unique asset that can be passed down through the generations offering a wise diversification of a traditional portfolio.”Cory Fuller
Strong relationships are at the heart of Gladwell & Patterson’s success. An aesthetic collaboration of artist, collector, art expert and their accompanying global network of industry contacts – all working for the benefit of each other. Interconnected relationships that are held together by the Fuller family core values – creating long-term alliances that have seen the business thrive. As Cory explains, family and business values are at their most powerful when they are intrinsically linked; trust, integrity and tenacity sprinkled with a dose of humour and a love of art which stands the family in good stead to this day.
“Our parents have given us the greatest gift. They have taught us to work hard, strive to be your best and to be true to yourself. My earliest memories have been to surround us with love and support us in any way they can. It has been an incredible journey to work alongside our father, Anthony for the last 20 years, who in turn worked alongside his father for 13 years, passing down priceless knowledge and experience.”
“Our family values are at the centre of the close bond we share. They glue us together through the good fun and the tough times. Selflessness and kindness are common threads of our family which solidify our home and business relationship and as a result we are stronger; trusting and respecting each other’s strengths allows us to complement each other. We work together to create a future for the next generation, and along the way cherish the experiences and laugh a lot.”
If you are lucky enough to spend time with Anthony, Glenn or Cory Fuller you can’t help but be touched by their infectious and unparalleled passion for art, deep knowledge of the subject matter and the pride they feel in the continued success of the gallery. As Anthony often muses: “What would my father think of this?” while watching a Monet or Picasso being hung on the gallery wall. Glowing with pride, no doubt.