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Books & Manuscripts

Maestro at Work: Peter Wilson's World

Aristocrat, aesthete and wartime Intelligence officer, Peter Wilson was, from 1958 to 1980, the inspirational yet enigmatic chairman of Sotheby's. It was a role that saw him transform the art market into a magnet for film stars, tycoons and prospectors. It also made him, as one observer noted, the "first jet set auctioneer". In Sotheby's Maestro, a new book edited by Katherine MacLean and Philip Hook, colleagues, collectors and dealers from the time recall Wilson's unique talent and an extraordinary gold-rush era in the saleroom.

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COVER OF SOTHEBY'S MAESTRO SHOWING PETER WILSON ON THE ROSTRUM AT SOTHEBY'S IN THE 1970S.

Bringing together a collection of candid interviews with the friends and peers who knew him best, this illuminating book charts the rise of Wilson throughout his early career in the art world, and his eventual role as chairman of Sotheby's. Wilson revolutionised the profile of the auction house and has played a significant role to the shape of the art market as we know it today. 

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PETER WILSON IN THE SOTHEBY'S SALEROOM, 1970S. 

His visionary approach, enthusiasm and unrivalled expertise set him apart in a world steeped in tradition and hierarchy. Contributors to the book include Lord Rothschild, Julian Agnew, the Countess of Rosebery and David Nash.

"A picture is more interesting if someone has paid a lot of money for it, don’t you think?" — Peter Wilson in the New Yorker, 1966.

 

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PRE-VIEWING THE SOMERSET MAUGHAM SALE, 1962: BRUCE CHATWIN, MICHEL STRAUSS, KATHERINE MACLEAN AND DAVID NASH.

As Senior Director of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby’s, Philip Hook is uniquely placed to offer explore the inner workings of an auction house: a complex and fascinating trove of exquisite objects, through the lens of this captivating personality. His previous best-selling publications include Breakfast at Sotheby’s — An A-Z of the Art World, and Rogue's Gallery, in which he shares a humorous yet edifying glimpse in to the compelling history of the art market, and its colourful cast of characters.

Sotheby's Maestro is available to buy from Sotheby's, as well as the following stockists:

John Sandoe

Thomas Heneage Art Books

Daunt Books

Heywood Hill Books

Hatchard's

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