Head of Department
Nicholas Lambourn, Senior Director, Head of Department, Topographical Pictures, joined Christie’s in 1981 and was a specialist in the Old Master Pictures department until 1996. He has run Topographical Pictures sales at Christie’s since the early 1980s, specialising in the work of itinerant western artists working in the Americas, Africa, Asia and Australasia from the great ages of exploration and Empire through to the 20th century. His department currently holds the record auction prices for many of the leading artists in this field, including Cazabon and Brunias in the Caribbean, Chinnery on the China coast, the Daniells in India, Rugendas in South America, Captain Thomas Davies in North America and Baines in southern Africa. Recent successes have included the sale of nine paintings of Chile and Peru by Johann Morotz Rugendas which raised an unprecedented £4.4m. in December 2017, and the dispersal of the highlights of the topographical and China Trade paintings from the Kelton Collection in October and November 2019. He inaugurated a series of Polar Sales at Christie’s through the late 1990s and early 2000s which sold important art and artefacts from the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration for the descendants of expedition members, most notably on behalf of the Scott, Shackleton, and Amundsen families. In addition to auction sales, his department regularly negotiates important private sales of topographical art from the colonial era to institutions and collections around the world, and recent private sales in his category have included artwork by Thomas Baines from Gregory’s North Australian Expedition to the Kerry Stokes Collection, Perth, the New South Wales Drawings to the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, the Bligh portrait to the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, John Webber’s portrait of the Polynesian princess Poetua and William Strutt’s View of Mount Egmont, Taranaki, New Zealand, taken from New Plymouth, with Maoris driving off settlers’ cattle to the National Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongawera, Wellington, New Zealand. The department also handles sales in lieu to the Nation of heritage works in their category, with recent sales negotiated to the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and The Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.
He also specialises in 20th century paintings by artists in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada, and has handled the sales of important works by such leading artists in these fields as Sidney Nolan, Charles Frederick Goldie, Irma Stern and Alexander Young Jackson. Private sales negotiated in these categories have included Arthur Boyd’s Diana and Actaeon to the Art Gallery of New South Wales and five masterpieces by Fred Williams to a North America collector.
Nicholas was educated at St Edward’s School, Oxford, and graduated with an MA (Hons) in Modern French Studies from the University of Dundee in 1981. He has travelled to the southern hemisphere regularly since 1992 and has lectured on artists in his category at the Royal Academy and in museums and institutions in Santiago de Chile, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, Hong Kong, and Auckland. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.