Obituary: Eric Estorick

Eric Estorick, art dealer: born New York City 13 February 1913; married 1947 Salome Dessau (one son, one daughter); died London 25 December 1993.

IN 1963 Eric Estorick and his wife Sal opened in the Grosvenor Gallery the largest and most splendidly equipped public gallery in London and perhaps in Europe. It had 5,800 square feet of floor space facing Davies Street with a window as wide as the gallery. At the time of the notorious 'Hung by Scarfe' sculpture exhibition, 1969, crowds of people gazing in stopped the traffic and an outraged visitor said: 'I hope someone throws a brick through your window.' Sal said: 'We want people to see that an art gallery is no longer a holy of holies.' It was an 'internationally minded art emporium' called by Arthur Moyse in the Anarchist Weekly 'this supermarket of the creative mind'.

Eric Estorick was born in New York of Jewish parentage, in 1913. He took a PhD in sociology at New York University and was appointed instructor at Columbia University. During the Second World War he became head of the British Empire Division of the United States Broadcast Intelligence Service. After the war he brought out the Torahs seized by the Nazis in Czechoslovakia. He wrote a number of books, including biographies of Stafford Cripps in 1940 and 1949, The Changing Empire in 1950, a privately printed History of Marks and Spencers, and an unpublished novel in collaboration with Dora (wife of Bertrand) Russell.

The ambition of the Grosvenor Gallery was to 'show 20th-century modern masters and the developing talent of young artists wherever they may be found'. In four years, between 1960 and 1964, Estorick visited Russia 14 times, to 'build bridges between East and West'. He went to Tblisi in Georgia to meet Ilya Ehrenburg, who greeted him: 'I hear you are buying all the shit in Russia.' The gallery's exhibition 'Aspects of Russian Experimental Art ' was a revelation to the British public.

Exhibitions were drawn from the five continents: from the United States, South Africa, Greece, Holland, Poland, Israel and from Eastern Europe; from China, Japan, Australia, India, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Many were pioneering exhibitions: Archipenko's Memorial Exhibition, when the Tate owned no work by him; Music, Gutfreund, the first London show of Lissitzky, when there were no works by him in any other collection in Great Britain, Bourdelle, Favorsky, Kaplan, David Burliuk.

Among the most captivating exhibitions were those that embraced an idea: 'Art in the Executive Suite' was original in concept and brilliant in execution. 'Friends and Famous People' of 1968 drew from The American Abroad the headline: 'If your portrait's here, you're famous'. The enchanting Art Nouveau exhibition of 1966 led to the rediscovery of the Russian artist Erte, then in his late seventies, and to the celebration in another exhibition of the leaders of Art Nouveau and Art Deco: Mucha and Erte.

In 1956 Estorick's Italian collection was shown at the Tate Gallery. In April 1969 a four-month season of 20th-century Italian art began at the Grosvenor Gallery: 'a survey in depth of Italy's leading artists and art movements'. To buy their works Estorick had visited many of the artists. Some of them he knew well. His collection of modern Italian art has been made over to a charitable educational foundation based in London.

In 1971 the Grosvenor Gallery left Davies Street and became a dealers' gallery. In 1967 Estorick had met Erte in Paris. During the next 20 years when Erte not only continued painting and dress designing but also created designs for a variety of clothing, jewellery, giftwear, graphics and sculpture, Estorick acted as his exclusive world agent. A dollars 100m- a-year business was thus created.

In 1993 the Grosvenor Gallery was opened again to the general public in Albemarle Street, London. Eric Estorick was an intellectual who in his late teens fell in love with modern art and began to form a collection which is now world- famous. A successful dealer is primarily a tradesman. For the Estoricks there was always a conflict between the longing to possess and the longing to sell.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us