After numerous failed applications to work in the picture department at Christies, the newly married Johnny Van Haeften and his wife Sarah open their gallery on Old Bond Street with no contacts, no knowledge, funding or experience..
While today, the name Van Haeften and Dutch Old Masters are inseparable. Johnny shares the 52 year story that unfolded which for him started on a much, much smaller scale with a life long love for art in miniature…
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Find below a short excerpt from this podcast:
Tom: Did you ever fall out of love with [stamp] collecting or has that remained consistent?
Johnny: To be honest never, absolutely not. It’s always been consistent. I think at school its difficult because you have so many other distractions, I was a very keen rugby player, I was an oarsman, I enjoyed rowing up and down the Thames, predictably when I discovered where all the pubs were. And you know, it’s such an absorbing thing. I remember actually putting my work aside to take a quick look at the stamp collection.
I feel guilty to this day when I should be writing an essay on a particular painting, and I thought… I might just have a quick look at that cover I bought at Stanley Gibons last week. I felt guilty! In fact I felt guilty today before talking to you!
Tom: Let’s fast forward a little bit to when you’re between 15 or 16, private school of course, we touched on this, you failed your history of art A levels, how did that go down with your parents?
Johnny: Strange thing is as a sort of growing teenager, I always had a desire to have a gallery of contemporary art. I don’t know why, I didn’t know anything about contemporary art, there was this sort of innate thing that contemporary art would be really interesting to get into and I would get to know the artists and everything else. Of course that doesn’t happen now because all my artists have been dead for 300 years! Conversations are a little stilted!