From left: deputy Italian ambassador Vincenzo Celeste, chairman Michael Estorick and Sir Nicholas Serota at the Estorick gallery on Thursday
Published: 19 January, 2017
A CHANCE meeting, a snap decision to take a new turning in the road – these can change one’s life. It’s happened to me – and it happened to Eric Estorick.
As I have often struggled to pronounce the name of the famous art gallery, The Estorick, I would wonder how its name came about.
I found the answer on Thursday when Michael Estorick, along with the former Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota, opened the gallery’s intriguing exhibition of War in the Sunshine: the British in Italy, 1917-18.
The gallery was the love child of Michael's father Eric, the only child of Jewish emigres from Russia, who supplemented his income as a sociologist by writing articles that brought him into the bohemian world of writers and artists of New York in the 1930s.
Then he met the great American photographer Alfred Stieglitz and entered the heart of the world of art.
Eric fell in love with England in the war as a US army man. He wrote a biography of Stafford Cripps and met Winston Churchill and Aneurin Bevan.
After the war, he developed a passion for Italian art, and later became a full-time art dealer, selling pictures to such Hollywood luminaries as Lauren Bacall, Tony Curtis and Billy Wilder.
Six months before his death he sold a famous Kandinsky and a rare Chagall still life to endow the foundation that would anchor the gallery in his adopted country at Northampton Lodge in Canonbury, Islington.