Sotheby's Talks: Celebrating Portraiture 

London | 30 May–4 July
Coinciding with the re-opening of the National Portrait Gallery in London on 22 June, and forming part of their Portrait Mode programme, this summer Sotheby’s will host a celebration of portraiture with a season of exhibitions and events, complementing the traditional marquee auctions of fine art.

A genre revered within the grand arc of the Western art historical canon, portraiture has been integral to the way artists tell stories about people, history and culture across the ages.

Beyond the unique opportunity to view seven magnificent artworks from Chatsworth House, generously loaned from the Devonshire Collection, we are partnering with Intelligence Squared to deliver a programme of cultural and historical talks surrounding the portrait genre, with contemporary artists, creatives and art historians.

Book your ticket via the RSVP links below.

Facing Now: Why Portraits Still Matter

19 June, 6:30–7:30pm
Simon Schama, Eleanor Nairne & Helena Newman

The origins of portraiture stretch back for millennia as humans have always sought to recreate their own likeness. This talk will explore the enduring power of portraiture to speak to major social concerns, posing questions such as: Why are we so captivated by the human likeness? What do portraits tell us about society and our changing world? And what can they reveal about who we are?

Capturing the Moment: Fashion, Portraiture and Taste

8 June
Lily Cole, Sarah Knights, Helen Rosslyn, Jamie Hawkesworth, & Harry Dalmeny

As a vehicle to convey personality, power, status, identity and wealth, portraiture is unmatched. Whether you’re standing in front of Queen Elizabeth I’s Armada Portrait or gazing at fashion royalty on the cover of Tatler, these images have been constructed to make an impact. How do portraits capture the zeitgeist? What do they tell us about an individual? And which portraits have really stood the test of time? This talk will explore the various forces that come together to produce an iconic portrait, and examine how these images both reflect and shape the societies that made them.

Meet the Panelists

Lily Cole

Lily is a model, author and filmmaker. Her book and accompanying podcast, Who Cares Wins, explore the myriad of environmental solutions from tech-utopia to indigenous wisdom. Lily has co-written and presented documentaries for Sky Arts and the BBC and directed multiple short documentaries for VICE and Nowness. She holds a first-class Masters in History of Art from the University of Cambridge and was an affiliate at The Berkman Klein Centre for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Lily is Patron of the Environmental Justice Foundation and was the first Global Ambassador for community fair-trade pioneer The Body Shop.

Lord Dalmeny, Chairman of Sotheby’s UK & Ireland

Lord Dalmeny began his career at Sotheby’s as a graduate trainee in 1990. He became a Director in the House Sale department in 1999 and rose to Chairman of Sotheby’s Olympia in 2003. Here, he continued to oversee House and Single-Owner sales whilst managing the strategic development of Sotheby’s Olympia. Harry was appointed Chairman of Sotheby’s UK & Ireland in 2017. In this capacity, he leads Sotheby’s client-focused activities in the UK & Ireland, and ensures a continued rich trajectory for Sotheby’s long tradition of landmark house and single-owner sales. 

Harry has played a leading role in many of the most significant Single-Owner sales of the last quarter century, including the “Duke & Duchess of Windsor” (February 1998), “Chatsworth: The Attic Sale” (October 2010), and more recently, “The Family Collection of the late Countess Mountbatten of Burma” (2021). He is auctioneer for the biannual Old Master Evening Sales in London. Over the course of the pandemic, Harry played a role in the success of Sotheby’s award-winning livestream hybrid auction series.

Renowned for his ‘sixth sense’ on the rostrum, Lord Dalmeny has auctioneered hundreds of charity sales and in turn has helped to raise over £120m for charitable organisations over the course of his career.

Jamie Hawkesworth

Jamie Hawkesworth is a photographer based in London. His recent solo exhibitions include: Preston Bus Station (Tokyo, 2019), A Short Pleasurable Journey Part Two (London, 2019) and Photographs and Sculptures (2018). His recent group shows Include: the 19th DongGang International Photo Festival Korea (2021), North: Fashioning Identity (Somerset House, London, 2017), and Disobedient Bodies: JW Anderson (The Hepworth Wakefield, 2017). In 2018 he won the Royal Photographic Society’s Award for Editorial, Advertising and Fashion Photography, and in 2020 he was commissioned to shoot British Vogue’s special cover series dedicated to the UK’s key workers.


Sarah Knights

Sarah Knights is a Trinidadian artist who was born in the small town of Sangre Grande. She graduated with an associate degree in Visual Communication from The John S. Donaldson Technical Institute and furthered her education in Visual Arts at the University of the West Indies. After graduating from the UWI she began working on a body of mixed media paintings using herself as the main subject to discuss issues of identity in modern societies. Knights presented her first solo exhibition One Thousand Mes in 2017 and has exhibited in various group exhibitions over the years including: Connecting Cultures: Contemporary Art From Trinidad and Tobago (U.S Chief of Mission Residence); Growth (The Caribbean Center for the Arts, St Croix); Thru Contemporary Arts Collection (Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago); Mixed Bag (Boxout, 59 Rivoli, Paris); Movement (Boxout, Frankfurt); and From Likeness to Fiction:The Portrait Inside Out (UWI and Brock University).

Eleanor Nairne

Eleanor Nairne is a curator based at the Barbican Art Gallery, where her exhibitions include Imran Qureshi: Where the Shadows are so Deep (2016), Basquiat: Boom for Real (2017-18), Lee Krasner: Living Colour (2019-20), Jean Dubuffet: Brutal Beauty (2021), Soheila Sokhanvari: Rebel Rebel (2022), and Alice Neel: Hot Off The Griddle (2023). Internationally, she has curated shows such as Erotic Abstraction: Eva Hesse / Hannah Wilke (2021) at the Acquavella Galleries in New York. She was previously Curator of the Artangel Collection at Tate, organising more than 30 exhibitions and displays across the UK. She has written essays and reviews for The Art Newspaper, frieze, the London Review of Books and the New York Times, among others. She is a Trustee for Heart Club, an organisation devoted to neurodivergent artists.

Helena Newman, Chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, Worldwide Head of Impressionist and Modern Art

Since joining Sotheby’s in 1988, Helena has been at the forefront of the global expansion of the Impressionist and Modern Art market. In addition to her role as Chairman, specialist and business getter, Helena also plays an important role on the rostrum at Sotheby’s. In July 2016, she became the first woman to take an evening sale since 1990, and she remains the only female auctioneer in the business to preside over these prestigious sales. A role model for aspiring female auctioneers, Helena has brought down the hammer on many landmark occasions (in New York in 2018, she brought down the hammer on the highest value work ever sold at Sotheby’s, and she has similarly presided over the highest value sale ever staged in London). As a classically trained violinist, with an innate sense of the performing skills necessary to command a room, Helena is at the vanguard of women in the art world who are blazing the trail in their industry.

Helena lives in Notting Hill with her husband, who is a musician, and their two children.

Helen Rosslyn 

Helen Rosslyn is Tatler’s Arts Editor and writer and presenter of the Tatler online short art film series In the Frame. She has written and presented art history documentaries for the BBC, including the three-part series Bought with Love: A Secret History of British Art Collections. Her other roles include Director of the London Original Print Fair at Somerset House and author of the acclaimed Royal Academy publication A Buyer's Guide to Prints.

Simon Schama

Simon Schama is an award-winning historian and the author of 19 books. He is currently University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University and Contributing Editor of the Financial Times. His works include The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age; Rembrandt's Eyes; The American Future: A History; The Story of the Jews and most recently Foreign Bodies on the history of pandemics. He is the writer-presenter of 60 documentaries on art, history and literature for BBC television including films on Tolstoy, John Donne and Rembrandt as well as several acclaimed series including A History of Britain and The Power of Art, which won an International Emmy for the film on Bernini. He has received the American Academy of Arts and Letters award for Literature, the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement, and the Premio Antonio Feltrinelli Prize in historical sciences from the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome.

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