Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism
Sadler, Sir Michael Ernest
Yorkshire, England, 1861–Oxford, England, 1943

Sir Michael Ernest Sadler was a historian, an influential reformer of secondary education, a champion of public schools, and a noted collector and promoter of modern art in Great Britain. He was dedicated to making his extensive collection, which included many Cubist works, available to the public. 

Educated at Trinity College in Oxford (1880–85), Sadler held a number of university posts during the course of his career. He was a fellow at Christ Church, Oxford (1890–95), professor of the history and administration of education at Manchester University (1903–11), vice-chancellor of the University of Leeds (1911–23), and master of University College in Oxford (1923–34). Sadler also served as director of Special Inquiries and Reports division of the Education Department at Whitehall, where he headed a research team that prepared a pioneering eleven-volume report on educational systems in Europe, the United States, and various British territories. He was knighted in 1919. 

Sadler began collecting art around 1892. From 1911 until his death in 1943, he primarily purchased modern art, a passion that he shared with his son, Michael Sadleir. His collection included works by Paul Gauguin, Juan Gris, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Georges Rouault . Sadler was one of the first British collectors to acquire important works by Paul Cézanne and Wassily Kandinsky. Sadler met the latter in 1912 while on a trip through Germany. He was also a champion of British vanguard artists and collected the work of Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, C. R. Nevinson, Stanley Spencer, among others. Sadler was a regular customer of the Leicester Galleries and Zwemmer Gallery, both of which were based in London. By 1939 he owned several works by Picasso, including Cubist compositions, some of which he lent to the Picasso in English Collections exhibition organized by E. L. T. Mesens at the London Gallery in 1939. 

During his tenure at University of Leeds, Sadler served as president of the Leeds Arts Club, an organization that brought together avant-garde artists and writers, radical thinkers, and social reformers. The club’s events, among them exhibitions, focused on art, spiritualism, philosophy, and politics. Sadler placed his art collection on view throughout the college campus, and upon his departure, he donated more than 70 works by British modernists to the school (now part of the collection of The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, the University Library, University of Leeds). In 1931 Sadler donated a portion of his collection to eleven prominent British art museums through National Art Collections Fund. An extensive portion of Sadler’s collection, 287 objects in total, was sold soon after his death by the Leicester Galleries (January–February and March 1944).

Contributed by Anna Jozefacka, January 2015
For more information, see:
Sadleir, Michael. Michael Ernest Sadler (Sir Michael Sadler, K. C. S. I.) 1861–1943: A Memoir. London: Constable, 1949. 

Archives: Papers related to the acquisition, administration, and dispersal of Sadler’s art collection are housed at the Tate Gallery Archives, London.

Artwork from the Leonard A. Lauder Cubist Collection formerly owned by Sadler: