The privilege of working at Leonard Joel is not just our continuous exposure to both the rare and the beautiful on a daily basis, but also the time we enjoy with the custodians of these things.
Over time, I have found that collectors often build an extraordinary knowledge and history around their collection or, if they have sometimes a single treasure, an intense affinity with that piece; its history, its maker, its mediums and its meaning in their life.
To enjoy the insights and knowledge of a great collector during the processes of auction is a rarity, and an even greater pleasure than the mere management of the property, as so often the collection is handed to us at the stage when it has either become an estate or is in the hands of advisors or family sometimes less connected to the spirit of the collection.
The tragic passing of John Schaeffer, indisputably one of the great Australian collectors with an international outlook, reminds us that we auctioneers are so very lucky when we get that rare privilege of working hand-in-hand with a collector of this calibre. Our Sydney salerooms enjoyed just that privilege as John Schaeffer worked for weeks with Hamish Clark, our Head of Sydney, on the catalogue and curation of this extraordinary collection that we will celebrate at our Woollahra location.
Melbourne too has seen the recent passing of a great collector-dealer who lived and dealt in Geelong, John Rosenberg. For decades John and his wife Lorraine would, without fail, attend our objects room every week and quietly, always politely and with occasional great wit would observe the offering of every single object and would also bid (with great discipline I might add) on the finest and most interesting pieces.
The Rosenbergs knowledge of porcelain was legendary, as was Lorraine’s sense of humour, and complimented so well by John’s gentility. Their combined knowledge was encyclopaedic and beyond compare in Australia for their field and testament to this was the fact that if a public institution struggled to identify a piece of porcelain, the Rosenbergs were considered the ultimate authority.
Despite the loss of these great collectors I have no doubt that their unwavering passion for the decorative arts will live on in the myriad of conversations they have shared about their collections and the nature of collecting.
Managing Director / National Head of Collections