'Up At Christie's (1897-1958)' [typescript memoir] by Sir Alec Martin
Archive reference number
Unpublished typescript memoir, written during his retirement, in which Alec Martin recounts his childhood and professional career at Christie's. Includes anecdotes and reflections on art collecting, auctioneering and the effects of war on art sales and Christie's itself, and his friendships with collectors and dealers such as Hugh Lane and Lord Beaverbrook. Also included are two appendices: 1) transcript of a radio interview with Thomas Bodkin about Hugh Lane, broadcast on 30 July 1955, and 2) an address given at the University of New Brunswick Art Centre, Fredericton, New Brunswick on 18 May 1960.
Alec Martin (1884-1971) joined Christie, Manson & Woods as an office boy in 1897, aged 12; he was made partner in 1931 and managing director in 1940, a post he held until his retirement in 1958 after 60 years' service. Martin served as a governor of the National Gallery of Ireland, a trustee of the Wallace Collection and as honorary secretary of the National Art Collections Fund. He was a friend and executor of Walter Sickert, whom Martin commissioned in 1935 to paint portraits of himself, his wife and youngest son (now at Tate Britain). Martin was knighted in 1934 having declined the honour in 1927 on the grounds that 'I was only an assistant at Christie's and my principals had no titles'. In 1960 the University of New Brunswick conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
Donated by the author's grandson, October 2022
Material held in the National Gallery Archive: correspondence with Sir Alec Martin may be found in the following series: NG14, NG16 and NG68 Associated material held in other archives: Trinity College Dublin, correspondence with Thomas Bodkin Tate Archive, correspondence with Lord Clark (1948-58) Glasgow University Library, letters to D.S. MacColl (1916-45) National Library of Ireland, correspondence with Ruth Shine (1916-34)