Richard Channing, born as the eldest of five brothers by four years in 1930s London, he had collecting in his blood. Named Percy William Channing, he helped his father source first editions and rare books for his stall in Petticoat Lane in his early years. By the time he began studying Art & Design at Hammersmith College of Art he was already known as Richard and he had already established himself as someone who had 'a good eye' with impeccable sartorial elegance and an innate sense of style.
After he finished his studies he travelled to New York on the Queen Mary to take up a sales position at menswear boutique Paul Stuart, where one of his customers or "see
you's" was Miles Davis. He persuaded his girlfriend to join him in New York and married her there. They both shared a passion for Jazz and frequently visited The Apollo in Harlem, along with all the other Jazz haunts & clubs they could find on Manhattan. It was in one of these venues that together they saw the last performance Billie Holiday ever gave.
They sailed back from New York on the famous United States with a trunk full of Esquire magazines, a suitcase full of jazz records and a portable record player. Playing Count Basie in their cabin made him very popular with the stewards.
They set up home in Islington, where he was a frequent visitor to Camden Passage. It was here that he made his first notable purchase - an Eames (Hille) Lounge chair, which was to become an iconic design classic.
He started working for Jaeger as a Men's knitwear designer in the 60's, where his natural talent for predicting fashion trends would stand him in good stead. He would often point out his sweaters being worn on television by the likes of Val Doonican and Ronnie Corbett.
When the family moved to Kew in 1968 he began collecting in earnest. Business trips to fashion shows and design fairs all over Europe meant that he could gather an eclectic mix of antiques and several of the large ceramic panthers were bought at Parisian flea markets.
Cultivating an early love of ceramics and the Arts and Crafts movement, his unerring good taste meant that he greatly admired the works of Keith Murray and Christopher Dresser.
He managed to buy several choice pieces and they were both to remain firm favourites for the rest of his life. The sale includes ceramics and glass by designers such as Murray, the Martin Brothers and Rene Lalique.
After Jaeger he worked at Deryck Healey International, one of the first consultancies in London to specialise in all aspects of fashion, interiors and textiles, designing collections for Fred Perry, Levi's and many more.
He often travelled to Scotland, where his love of Charles Rennie Mackintosh lead him to the Glasgow Print Studio. He was an avid supporter right from the beginning in 1972, and bought a large proportion of the works on paper there, including Peter Howson and June Carey.
In London his friendship with Angela Flowers meant that he would often discover and
promote the new young artists displaying works in her gallery Flowers East. Even though retired he still kept his finger on the pulse and was asked by Ann Barr to be a regular contributor to her Barometer feature in Harpers & Queen.
In later years he became a well known face on the London Art scene and although a consummate ligger from way back, his extensive knowledge of what was fresh in the Art World allowed him to enjoy countless invitations to Gallery openings and Exhibitions all over the capital. As a close family friend said when being told of his unexpected death in 2013, "who's going to tell us what to see, where to go and what to read now....?"
His collection is a true reflection of the life of a collector who did not just know what was going to be fashionable, but also had a real feeling for what worked well together.
Highlights of the collection include:
-Christopher Dresser tureen silver plate
-Ivory & shagreen square clock Swiss movement
-Liberty's Tudric pewter bowl
-French Art Deco Lady clock
-Keith Murray Wedgwood vases
-Charles Eames Lounge chair and ottoman
-Knoll Breuer Wassily chair
-Vanessa Bell & Duncan Grant prints
A catalogue will be available from middle of November, for more details, please visit www.catherinesouthon.co.uk. The sale can be viewed on 6th December and the morning of the sale at Farleigh Court.
Farleigh Court Golf Club, Old Farleigh Road, Nr Selsdon, Surrey CR6 9PE, United Kingdom
Catherine does regular valuations in her office at the Ripley Arts Centre in Bromley and around the South East – please visit the website for more information.
Catherine Southon has worked for 20 years within the antiques world, initially working for Sotheby’s New Bond Street for 9 years as an auctioneer specialising in Scientific Instruments and Maritime Works of Art, and subsequently as an expert on four BBC Antiques programmes for 10 years.
Catherine Southon Auctioneers & Valuers
Ripley Arts Centre, 24 Sundridge Ave, Bromley BR1 2PX, United Kingdom
+44 (0)20-8313 3655