Holland Park interviewed Ralph Taylor, Art Historian, to find out how his education has influenced his career choice and success.Job title and company: Head of Post-War & Contemporary Art, Europe, at Bonhams
Education: Thomas’ London, Papplewick, Wellington College, Leeds University, The Courtauld Institute of Art
How did your education inform your choice of career?
I was a scholar at Wellington, so it was compulsory to do a fourth A-Level. I didn’t know what to pick, and as all the girls did History of Art and you got to travel to Paris and Florence for it, I chose that.
Our teacher was the most inspirational man: Dr Buttermore – a polymath who spoke nine languages and treated us like adults. I then chose to study History of Art with English Literature at university, in part so that I could send him my essays.
At Leeds, I decided I needed to get a First, so I chose to study subjects that I’d enjoy in order that working hard wouldn’t be a chore. Parents always want you to do PPE or law, but I felt I could retrain afterwards if necessary – and it worked, so I’d recommend it.
Did you find a particular teacher at school or university especially inspirational?
I had a teacher at the Courtauld Institute of Art, called Professor Chris Green, who had written many of the major texts about Picasso and European Modernism. His knowledge was incredible; it was a treat just to hear him speak. He was also a great raconteur and host, which didn’t hurt.
What did your education give you that you are most grateful for?
Confidence and an enquiring mind.
Sum up your education in three words:
Expensive. But. Worthwhile.