Having worked my way up through the fine art market over many years, beginning as a gallery assistant at Haynes Fine Art in Broadway Worcestershire in the 1990’s, where I cut my teeth learning the trade, to setting up my own gallery with a colleague and exhibiting fine art at some of the worlds most prestigious fine art fairs with galleries in London and New York, to then operating as an agent buying some of the worlds finest Impressionist paintings for museums and private clients (which I continue to do), one aspect of my life has never changed.
The history of the Napoleonic wars has always held me fascinated. From first picking up a battered old copy of Bernard Cornwells “Sharpes Tiger” (which tells the tale of a belligerent and determined soldier in the 95th Rifles fighting in the army of Sir Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington in the Mysore wars against Tipu Sultan) I was hooked. I read every novel in the series and was fascinated by this rich age of hero, romance, enlightenment, an age witnessing advances in science, culture and politics along side great battles that are familiar to us today; Trafalgar, Austerlitz and Waterloo.
These wars were born out of Revolution and Empire that brought into its vortex all European nations, the newly found America, Russia, Egypt, the East Indies, the West Indies, The Holy Lands, Turkey, North Africa and South Africa.
It was an age of military heroes such as Nelson, Von Blücher, Wellington and of course, Napoleon himself.
I was gripped. I read everything and have a growing library of books on the Napoleonic wars, in fact it was pointed out to me that I own fewer books on art.
Naturally, during the course of my day job, I would come across great paintings that depicted and defined the age. Sir Thomas Lawrence’s evocative portrait of Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1815-16), Jacques-Louis Davids dramatic depiction of “Napoleon Crossing the Alps” 1805, and Turners haunting vision of HMS Victory breaking the line at the “The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805” all captivated my imagination.
It was, therefore, little surprise to anyone when I first decided to begin buying (and occasionally selling), my own collection of art from this period. My first purchase was a dramatic retelling of Captain Norman Ramsay of the Royal Horse Artillery saving the guns at the Battle of Fuentes d’Oñoro in 1811. Within days of hanging it on the wall of my library, I accidentally sold the piece to my very good friend Tom after a particularly enjoyable dinner. He was delighted and I was somewhat full of regret the next day. However, there is a very difficult balance to be had between being a collector and an art dealer. Tom lives in the next village and I shall try and buy it back from him one day. But to soften the feeling of loss, I was shocked and delighted to discover that this very same painting had been used as the cover illustration to another of Bernard Cornwell’s books from the Sharpe series. And at the time of writing, I am currently re-reading a well thumbed copy of “Sharpes Havoc” (Harper Collins).
Isle of Mull, 2017
Simon Shore is a North Cotswolds-based art dealer, agent and advisor who operates within the international art market on behalf of private clients, collectors and museums. Founding and helping to grow successful galleries in the Cotswolds, Mayfair and New York’s Upper East Side, Simon specialises in the French Impressionists and has placed works by artists such as Monet, Picasso, Sisley, Caillebotte and Pissarro into some of the world’s most illustrious collections, both academic and corporate. Simon works across all levels of the art market, helping to cultivate private collections as well. Whether sourcing a single sought-after piece or setting an entire art investment strategy, he has unique access to some of the finest works in private hands. With 25 years’ experience, Simon is widely-respected and uniquely-placed within the industry – and it is his reputation for transparency and professionalism, as well as his personal approach, that help his clients buy and sell with confidence.