My Leonard Joel with Norman Rosenblatt

To celebrate our centenary, we’re stepping into the home of our clients, to find out why they buy at auction, and what it is they love about it. In the first of our Centenary Series, we interviewed art collector, Norman Rosenblatt. Watch out for the video coming soon!

Can you remember your first visit to Leonard Joel?

I first visited Leonard Joel as a young boy, from around 14 years of age – I used to wag school on Thursdays to visit the auctions! It was like a wonderland to me. You’d see so many treasures; and the characters that used to go there – the dealers, the collectors – they were as interesting as the pieces they bought.

What was the first piece you bought at Leonard Joel? 

I remember, and in fact, I still have the first piece I bought at Leonard Joel. It was a painting of a child, that speaks to me now just as much as it spoke to me then. I paid one guinea for it, with my pocket money, and that was a lot of money for me at the time. I didn’t know who the artist was and I still don’t, but it just spoke to me – it had innocence about it – and the way it was painted, it’s just beautiful. I still love it now as much as did then.

Do you consider yourself a collector or do you simply buy what you like when you see it?

I spend around two hours a day looking at catalogues, all over the world. I find it so fascinating. I do a lot of research on well-known and not so well-known artists, in Australia and overseas – I like to support artists whose work I believe should be more recognised – and these are the works I am often drawn to.

My two rules, which I never veer away from, are;  Do you love it? Can you afford it? If the answer to both is yes, I buy it!

What do you enjoy about buying at auction? Is it the element of discovery, or the excitement of not knowing whether or not you’ll secure the winning bid?

For me, it’s the element of discovery, of uncovering something beautiful. I listen to French and Italian music – I don’t speak a word of French or Italian, but the music speaks to me. For me, it’s the same with art. When you hear or see something, or discover something of beauty, it’s a sensation – your eye speaks to your brain.

Do you have a favourite piece you’ve bought at Leonard Joel or a piece you wish you’d won, but lost at auction?

It’s rare for me to miss a piece at auction! As I said, I do a lot of research so I generally know what is coming up. I also visit auctions a lot, and am very involved in the art world. I’ve almost missed a family wedding once, (because of an auction!), but I rarely miss an auction!