Obituary: Sir Anthony Lousada

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The Independent Online
Anthony Baruh Lousada, lawyer: born 4 November 1907; partner, Stephenson Harwood 1935-73; member of Council, Royal College of Art 1952-79, Vice-Chairman 1960-72, Treasurer 1967-72, Chairman 1972-79; member of Council, Friends of Tate Gallery 1958-94, Honorary Treasurer 1960-65, Chairman 1971-77; Trustee, Tate Gallery 1962-69, Vice-Chairman 1965-67, Chairman 1967-69; Vice-Chairman, Contemporary Art Society 1961-71; Kt 1975; married 1937 Jocelyn Herbert (one son, three daughters; marriage dissolved 1960), 1961 Patricia McBride (one son, one daughter); died London 24 June 1994.

ANTHONY LOUSADA was someone who could combine happily his career as a successful solicitor with his passion for the visual arts. It was a case of following a family tradition: his father, Julian Lousada, was also a lawyer and an art collector, and Anthony liked to recount how he had been taken as a seven-year-old child to visit the studio of the French-born sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, shortly before his early death at the front in the First World War.

Lousada was born in London in 1907, and educated at Westminster and New College, Oxford. The family name is Portuguese; the Lousadas were a Sephardic Jewish family who settled in London in the 17th century. The sculptor Louis Francois Roubiliac was another distant ancestor. Lousada was admitted as a solicitor in 1933, and was a partner in the family firm of Stephenson Harwood & Tatham from 1935 to 1973. He specialised in private client work, particularly in the settlement of artists' estates, acting for John Minton, Ceri Richards, Keith Vaughan and many others.

Lousada's first marriage in 1937 was to Jocelyn, the artist daughter of A. P. Herbert. This brought Lousada into a lively Chiswick circle of writers and artists which suited his temperament well. During the Second World War he worked in the Ministries of Economic Warfare and Production and in the Cabinet Office; while his wife was preoccupied with their family of four children.

Lousada inherited some fine Impressionist paintings and drawings from his father, and after the war he began to collect modern paintings himself. He was drawn to the Ecole de Paris, and owned a notable picture by the Portuguese artist Veira da Silva. His activities as a collector led to his being invited to join the Executive Committee of the Contemporary Arts Society in 1955, where he served until 1971; and he was one of the original Council Members of the Friends of the Tate Gallery when it was set up in 1958.

I first met Lousada at this time: it was not however a happy period for him. Jocelyn's career as a stage designer, interrupted by the bringing up of the family, suddenly took off, and her appointment in 1956 as the house designer for George Devine's English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre established her as an outstanding innovator in a field then badly in need of new ideas. The marriage broke up: as a consolation Anthony made a long visit to the United States, returning a transformed man. He had met the dancer Patricia McBride, tall, beautiful and formerly a member of Balanchine's New York City Ballet Company: she became his second wife in 1961, settling into their Thames-side Edwardian house at Chiswick as an enchanting hostess, and raising a second family for Anthony.

In the 1960s Lousada was able to give much of his time to public service in the arts. Lawyers are often good committee men, and make excellent chairmen. His exact contemporary and partner at Stephenson Harwood, John Witt, another collector's son, had already moved into the art establishment, serving as a Trustee of the National Gallery, and as a member of the Arts Council. Lousada, perhaps deliberately, moved in a similar but opposite direction. His firm has long acted for the Royal College of Art, and Lousada was a council member for a record 27 years, from 1952 to 1979. Though there were tempestuous moments, he loved the college, and served as Vice-Chairman, Treasurer, and finally as Chairman from 1972 to 1979. In return, the college made him Fellow, Senior Fellow and, in 1977, an Honorary Doctor, an unusual distinction for a non-practitioner of the arts.

At the Tate Gallery, Lousada joined the Board of Trustees in 1952, becoming Chairman from 1967 to 1969 and Chairman of the Friends from 1971 to 1977. None of the positions is honorific; most demand time and tact and energy and hard work, sometimes bringing with them the bruising experience in public life. Lousada achieved some notoriety when he announced the Tate's plans in 1969 to build on to the Millbank facade: it was perhaps an outrageous scheme, best seen as a desperate measure which achieved the purpose of getting Harold Wilson's government to make available the adjacent hospital site for the gallery's expansion.

Lousada's firm advised Christie's, and he acted for the fine art trade on many occasions, notably in the Brussels negotiations concerning VAT. He was a member of the Post Office's Advisory Committee on Stamp Design, and chaired the Government Arts Collections Advisory Committee from 1976 to 1983. It was for his services to art that he was knighted in 1975.

Anthony Lousada was a skilled chairman and negotiator, whose talents were sought by many. An eloquent speaker, he was an urbane and charming man, with many friends and a wide range of interests. A member of the Garrick, he was a notable amateur sailor. He had an exceptional visual memory, and was something of a painter himself, particularly after his retirement; he showed his drawings at the Covent Garden Gallery in 1977 and 1981. It was always the company of artists that he most loved, particularly valuing his friendships with the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, and the painters Ben Nicholson, John Piper and John Hubbard. He was able to help artists with advice; to contribute modestly to their creative achievements was probably what gave him most satisfaction in a long and rewarding life.

(Photograph omitted)

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