Brian Sewell is dead. He died on Saturday at the age of eighty-four at his home in Wimbledon, surrounded by his beloved dogs who kept vigil for a master they worshipped.
I realised that I shall never see him again, nor hear his imperial voice on the telephone – a voice with a melodic accent that brightened my day whenever I felt overcome by the vagaries of time.
As a consequence, I am much too distraught to write a proper tribute to the man who for the past four years has become my close friend and, I dare say, my most esteemed and controversial author.
His brilliance as a journalist, art critic and writer whose style and command of the English language stands supreme and, perhaps, with few equals; his use of words like musical notes, so well constructed as to make reading a symphonic pleasure. On a personal level, I found him a most loyal and supportive friend who never wavered in a crisis and kept his cool when the going was hampered by unforeseen circumstances.
He had courage and determination, even when his illness made him much too weak to do the things he desperately felt needed to be done. He nevertheless fought to the very end, to face death with the dignity of a fearless man who will be remembered in iconic terms – not only as a giant in his own field of art criticism but as a man who made his mark in whatever medium he chose to embrace.
His legacy is found in his books that, I am sure, will remain the best tribute to a remarkable journalistic virtuoso who himself will live in our memory for as long as art constitutes an important part of our lives.
I shall miss him terribly but take great comfort from having been his publisher and his friend. May the heavens open the gates to welcome him with open arms, for his terrestrial contributions have been phenomenal.