Monday, February 26, 2018

Rockefeller Collection on public show at Christies London

Once in a while, a really significant collection of art and artifacts rolls into town - and it's possible to see the works on exhibition prior to a grand auction - and bid on them if you feel so inclined!

The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller is being auctioned in New York in at Christie’s Rockefeller Center in New York in late spring. Prior to this auction, the most valuable collection ever previously offered at auction was the Collection Yves Saint Laurent et Pierre Bergé in 2009 at Christie’s Paris which achieved more than US$400 million / € 373,935,500

CLAUDE MONET (1840–1926)
Nymphéas en fleur
© Christie’s Images Ltd
oil on canvas 63 in. x 71 in. (160 x 178 cm.)
Painted circa 1914-1917

This is the largest auction ever entirely dedicated to raising funds for philanthropic causes. (see note at end)
“Eventually all these objects which have brought so much pleasure to Peggy and me will go out into the world and will again be available to other caretakers who, hopefully, will derive the same satisfaction and joy from them as we have over these past several decades.” David Rockefeller
Prior to this it is touring the world and the preview dates for the exhibition of works from the collection at Christies Galleries are as follows:
  • London 21 February – 8 March 2018
  • Beijing 6 – 7 April 2018
  • Paris 16 – 21 April 2018
  • Los Angeles 6 – 12 April 2018, and 
  • Shanghai 10 – 11 April 2018
The auction sale will take place in the Spring (dates to be announced) at 20 Rockefella Plaza in New York.  It's expected that the sale will offer 1500 works overall split across auctions taking place in New York during the week of May 7.

Important pieces include:
  • Claude Monet's Nympheas en fleur (c.1914-1917) - see above
  • what will be the most valuable Matisse painting ever offered at auction to date
  • a rather lovely Rose Period Picasso which originally came from the Gertrude Stein Collection
The extended public exhibition will feature significant works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Georges Seurat, Juan Gris, Paul Signac, Edouard Manet, Paul Gauguin, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, and Edward Hopper, among others

Below you can see the images in different contexts and learn something of how they were acquired.
    The painting of Nymphéas en fleur by Claude Monet (1840-1926) is extremely colourful. It belongs to the series of paintings of Nypheas in his water garden at Giverny (see Gardens in Art: Monet and the water garden at Giverny) that Monet painted during the first world war - between 1914 and 1917.

    This painting precedes The Grands Decorations - the very large paintings of the Nympheas (see Gardens in Art: Monet's final Nympheas) which can now be seen in the Musée de l’Orangerie in the Tuileries Garden in Paris.

    In terms of value one has to reference a previous sale in 2007 by Christies - see World record bid for Le Bassin aux Nymphéa by Monet.

    The painting was bought by Peggy and David Rockefeller in 1956 following a recommendation by Alfred Barr, the first director of the Museum of Modern Art
    “One, which was almost certainly painted in the late afternoon and in which the water is a dark purple and the lilies stand out a glowing white, we bought immediately,” David Rockefeller recalled in Memoirs.
     Odalisque couchée aux magnolias is the highest estimated work by Matisse ever to be offered at auction. You can read more about this painting in Live like a Rockefeller: Odalisque couchée aux magnolias by Henri Matisse.

    HENRI MATISSE (1869–1954)
    Odalisque couchée aux magnolias - signed ‘Henri - Matisse’ (lower right)
    © Christie’s Images Ltd
    oil on canvas 23 x 31 in. (60.5 x 81.1 cm.)
    Painted in Nice, 1923

    One aspect of significance is that the pose of a reclining female figure allowed Matisse to enter the pantheon of past masters who have painted a female figure in this way - and for Matisse to reflect on how well his paintings measured up to those of the past.

    The painting used to hang in the living room of Peggy and David’s Hudson Pines home (see below) - which gives some sense of scale.

    As hung in the Rockefeller's Hudson Pines residence
    © Christie’s Images Ltd

    This particular painting of a young girl by Picasso had originally been acquired from Picasso in 1905 by brother and sister Leo and Gertrude Stein. When they split their household, Leo got the Renoirs and Gertrude kept the paintings by Picasso and Matisse.

    PABLO PICASSO (1881–1973)
    Fillette à la corbeille fleurie signed ‘Picasso’ (upper right);
    © Christie’s Images Ltd
    signed again, dated and inscribed ‘Picasso 1905 13 Rue Ravignan’ (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas 60 x 26 in. (154.8 x 66.1 cm.)
    Painted in 1905

    Studio of Leo and Gertrude Stein in Paris in 1906
    Source: Catalogue for Four Americans in Paris the collections of Gertrude Stein and her family.
    [MOMA Exhibition held Dec. 1970]

    In turn, on Gertrude's death  in 1946 the painting was willed to her partner in life Alice B. Toklas following Gertrude’s death and remained in her ownership until her death in March 1967.

    The arrangement for the disposal of the Stein/Toklas art collection was interesting. In 1968, David Rockefeller formed a group of important art collectors to acquire the renowned collection of Gertrude Stein. Who got what was decided by picking numbered slips from a hat. Rockefeller drew the first pick in the syndicate and was hence able to acquire their first choice - which was Picasso's Young girl with Young Girl with a Flower Basket - which went on to hang in the library of their New York town house on 65th Street.

    Library at East 65th Street Manhattan townhouse
    © Christie’s Images Ltd

    The London Exhibition

    The exhibition opened last week at Christies at 8 King Street, St James's London SW1Y 6QT - and subject to snowfall and the cold this week (which plays havoc with my arthritis), I'm hoping to get to see it.

    Christies has made a special selection for London as this is one of the longer displays of work from the collection. It includes items from the collection which reflect the wideranging interests of the Rockefeller family.

    Other than the items identified above, here's a small selection of what is on show in terms of paintings, furniture and works of art

    This small plain painting of an apple is by Picasso and has been estimated to have a value of between £1-1.5 million.

    PABLO PICASSO (1881–1973)
    © Christie’s Images Ltd
    signed, dated and inscribed ‘Picasso Noël 1914 Souvenir pour Gertrude et Alice’ (on the reverse)
    gouache and watercolor on paper 5 x 7 in. (13.5 x 17.7 cm.)
    Painted in 1914
    Estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000
    I'm sure at least some of the estimate for this small painting of an apply by Picasso lies with what is on the reverse of the paper it is painted on

    Souvenir pour Gertrude at Alice - signed by Picasso - Noel 1914
    Source: Catalogue for Four Americans in Paris the collections of Gertrude Stein and her family.
    [MOMA Exhibition held Dec. 1970]

    I rather like this painting of Venice by Sargent. Can one ever get enough of paintings of Venice by Sargent?

    JOHN SINGER SARGENT (1856–1925)
    San Geremia
    © Christie’s Images Ltd
    signed and dated ‘John S. Sargent 1913’ (lower right) oil on canvas
    22 x 28 in. (55.9 x 71.1 cm.)
    Painted in 1913
    There are drawings as well as paintings included in the sale - notably one by Van Gogh

    VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853–1890)
    Planteuse de betteraves
    © Christie’s Images Ltd
    signed, titled and dated ‘Vincent planteuse de betteraves - Juin -’ (lower left) black chalk on paper
    18  x 20 in. (46.2 x 52.8 cm.)
    Drawn in Nuenen, June 1885
    Twentieth century American art was not neglected by the Rockefellers - and this rather unusual Hopper painting is also included in the sale.

    EDWARD HOPPER (1882–1967)
    Cape Ann Granite
    © Christie’s Images Ltd
    signed ‘EDWARD HOPPER’ (lower right) oil on canvas
    29 x 40 o in. (71.1 x 102.2 cm.) Painted in 1928

    I'd certainly RECOMMEND you pay a visit to Christies and take a look if you are in London - or any other venues

    Whether you have the funds to make a bid is up to you - and you'll have to wait to see the lot details!

    This is the link to the details about venues

    The charitable trusts and funds designated as benefiting from the auction include: the American Farmland Trust, Americas Society/Council of the Americas, Council on Foreign Relations, The David Rockefeller Fund, Harvard University, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Mount Desert Land and Garden Preserve, Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller University, The Stone Barns Restoration Corporation – Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture

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