Zwemmer Gallery (Biographical details)

Zwemmer Gallery (dealer/auction house; British; Male; 1929 opened - 1968 closed; the Gallery, not the bookshop)

Also known as

Zwemmer Gallery; Zwemmer, Anton

Address

26 Litchfield Street, Charing Cross Rd, WC2 (1933)

Biography

Bookshop (opened in 1921 by Anton Zwemmer, 1892-1971, of Dutch origins) and publisher, with a sideline in selling first colour prints and later works of art. Shop inherited by his sons John and Desmond, who sold it to Philip Wilson in 1985, who later went bankrupt.
The reproductions were initially sold in the bookshop. A separate Gallery was first opened in 1929 above the shop; during the 1930s it was one of the few venues for contemporary, especially French, art in London, and held famous shows of Picasso. Its activities were suspended during WWII, but it re-opened in 1947. Between 1954 and 1965 the Gallery was run by Michael Chase, but closed in 1968 soon after his departure. Chase built up a programme which included contemporary artists' prints as well as the traditional reproductions, and held one-man shows (a full list of the Gallery's exhibitions is given by Halliday). After 1968 the remaining stock was untouched until its sale at Bloomsbury Book Auctions in 2004, at which the BM bought several lots (see 2004,0731.4 to 64). Other prints, including works by SW Hayter, were sold through Blond Fine Art. This history implies that all the prints now in the BM were made in the decade between 1954-65.

Bibliography

'Festschrift for Anton Zwemmer: tributes from some of his friends on the occasion of his 70th birthday', 1962
Nigel Vaux Halliday, 'More than a bookshop: Zwemmer's and art in the 20th century', London, Philip Wilson 1991 (includes a complete list of exhibitions and publications).
The firm's records, which includes its sales ledgers, is now in the Tate Archive.