This short blog is by way of a tribute to Paul Whitfield, some of whose collection of post war art graces our current Mid Century Romanticism exhibition. Paul, who sadly died in May 2018, was the son of the poet and writer Christopher Whitfield, an early friend of Michael Cardew in the 1920s, and subsequent stalwart supporter of the romantic artist and etcher F L Griggs, like Christopher a Chipping Campden resident.
The Whitfield family’s background was in industry, but Paul was to follow in his father’s footsteps in actively garnering a lovely collection of art and artefacts. His senior management role at the top four London auction houses was clearly a significant factor in assisting his hobby, however his unerring aesthetic sense and eye for quality and beauty were equally as important.
His auctioneering career had started with Christies in 1965, working in a variety of fields including furniture, carpets, bronzes, sculpture and a wide range of decorative objects. At Christies where he was ultimately Managing Director, he was most notably responsible in establishing their South Kensington rooms. He worked subsequently for Bonhams, Sothebys and Phillips, employing an encyclopedial appreciation of the beautiful, also reflected in his own collections of art and objects.
Our paths crossed relatively recently around three or four years ago, in collaborations on two exhibitions at our Archive Trust of Neo-Romantic etchings of the 19th and early 20th centuries. We had planned to subsequently put together a Neo-Romantic art show at Court Barn Museum, to illustrate what became of the Romantic taste in art after WW2. His untimely passing led me to curate our current show as a small tribute to his urbane and erudite taste, and to celebrate a kind and generous man whom I admired greatly.