The art market is full of personalities, but dealers and gallerists often operate behind the scenes. In this regular series, Apollo asks art dealers to introduce themselves and their businesses. We spoke to Jorge Coll and Nicolás Cortés as they celebrate the 10th anniversary of Coll & Cortés.
Tell us a bit about the history of your business…
The business began 10 years ago as a result of a very unlikely friendship between the two of us. In time, a small office staffed by us and Nicolás’s six dogs became prominent premises in both Madrid and London and 11 employees. As with most dealers today a few lucky breaks and some hard-learned lessons helped us to become leading dealers in our field.
What are your specialist fields?
We are lucky enough to have handled fantastic works of art in many categories – one of the few benefits of having been raised by old school dealer fathers in the good old days. Our real expertise, however, and what most people know us for is Italian, Spanish and Latin American old master paintings and sculpture.
What’s the most exciting work you’re currently offering?
We have a handful of things in the pipeline that will have collectors and museum curators salivating but we don’t want to spoil the surprise just yet! That said, we are currently writing a catalogue on baroque sculpture from Granada that contains a few museum-quality treasures we’ll be offering at TEFAF.
What’s been your greatest triumph as a dealer?
We don’t believe we have any one triumph that is greater than the other, however, every time we walk into the Metropolitan, Prado or Louvre and see works of art we have sold hanging on the walls it does fill us with enormous pride.
And your greatest professional regret?
We don’t have any, obviously!
How has the market in your field changed since you started dealing?
We think we are one of the few old masters dealerships that can say with confidence that their principal market has grown. Ten years ago nobody gave a single thought to Spanish sculpture. Now, we have to carefully manage our clients’ expectations whenever we find a new treasure. Of course this is a nice problem to have, but it is one that has to be handled with care and respect.
Do you collect yourself? And in the same field as you deal?
We do. And this makes our work so much harder! Nicolás, in particular, is a compulsive spender whose collections range from high performance cars, to renaissance sculpture, antiquities and some of our stock he simply does not want to sell!
Which work have you been sorriest to part with?
Nicolás: around 15 years ago I sold a very emotive Spanish polychrome wood sculpture of a donor figure to a dealer friend. I never wanted to sell it but he convinced me to do it. I spent 15 years regretting it and last week I tracked it down and bought it back!
If you weren’t an art dealer, what would you be?
Nicolás: A naturalist – a kind of Spanish David Attenborough
Jorge: A landscape architect.
Coll & Cortés are based in London and Madrid.