Instinct, Scholarship and Curiosity: The Jan Finch Collection

Instinct, Scholarship and Curiosity: The Jan Finch Collection

This November, Sworders will sell a remarkable group of objects from the collection of the pioneering dealer, the late Jan Finch (1952-2021).

20 September 2022

A four-decade-long career that started at Portobello Market in the 1980s will be celebrated in a sale of close to 400 hugely varied lots, as Jan's husband and business partner, Craig, seeks to downsize and spend more time outside of the UK.


"Adventurous in their selection of objects they were just as imaginative in their presentation, causing regular gasps from visitors”


It was under Jan’s leadership that Finch & Co became one of the best-known and most charismatic dealerships of the modern era. What began as a traditional antiques dealership (Jan and her mother traded dealer-to-dealer at Portobello) evolved to embrace both new ways of selling and a ‘look’ based on passion, instinct, scholarship and curiosity.


A Tibetan gilt copper repousse snow lion mask, 19th century


After Jan and Craig were married in 1993, their ‘wunderkammer’ mix of ethnographic art, European sculpture, antiquities and latterly Modern British art, became a regular fixture at international trade fairs. Events such as Masterpiece, TEFAF and BRAFA in the 2000s were supplemented by a popular twice-yearly exhibition in St James’s.

Jan was naturally curious with a tremendous thirst for knowledge, a thirst that she applied not just to her professional work but to life in general. Outside of work, she and her husband would often be found indulging in their love of local food and music in far-flung places. Even during the peak of Jan’s illness, they travelled to Venice for a performance of Verdi’s La Traviata at the Teatro la Fenice.


A French Prisoner of War Ship model, c.1820


The firm’s rigorously researched, lavishly produced and hugely informative catalogues became the mainstay of many a dealer’s and collector’s library. Writing in 2021, fellow dealer Ted Few wrote that Finch created “a unique business which prized the unusual and mysterious over the purely commercial. Adventurous in their selection of objects they were just as imaginative in their presentation, causing regular gasps from visitors”.

The business, based in Cromwell Place, South Kensington, continues to trade. As many clients for tribal art are based in the EU, Craig Finch hopes to operate partly from Brussels.


Franco Franchi (Italian), early 19th century
'Cicero', a Carrara marble bust after the antique


Jan’s collection in our November sale amounts to a celebration of many of her life’s passions. It includes both carefully chosen items of Finch & Co stock, from Oceanic war clubs to French Prisoner of War art and Roman sculpture, and also many pieces from Jan’s personal collection. When at home near Banbury Jan was a keen gardener and cook. A library of hundreds of cookery books and the contents of a wine cellar will be sold at auction alongside garden furnishings such as 4ft high staddle stone and around 20 Victorian and earlier stone troughs. The sale will take place on Wednesday 9 November and will be available for online and in-room bidding.



For further information about the sale please contact: | 01279 817778




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