Rockefeller Collection of Furniture & Decorative Arts to Highlight Sotheby's 2019

  • Auktion
    Rockefeller Collection of Furniture & Decorative Arts to Highlight Sotheby's 2019

Further highlights include an Extremely Rare and Important Pair of Large Chinese Export Figures of a Jewish Man and Lady, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period (estimate $100/150,000). The present pair has historically been known as ‘Dutchman and Dutch Lady’, or ‘Mr. and Mrs. Duff’, however, this attribution has been repositioned recently following the discovery of two European prints entitled ‘Franckfurther Jud und Jüdin’ and ‘Ein Polnischer Jud’. The two prints were etched by the Dutch artist Caspar Luyken (1672-1708) and illustrated in the Neu-eröffnete Welt-Galleria (The Newly Opened World Gallery) in 1703, which consists of 101 costume plates ranging in the depiction of nobility to everyday people of various nations. The figures depicted are wearing typical Ashkenazi Jewish garments, including the collar ruffs, the bonnet with cone-shaped ears worn by the woman, and the long robe, large broad brimmed hat and draped sash worn by the man. There appear to be two other pairs of a Jewish man and lady published: the first is from the Copeland Collection at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts, and the second from the Hodroff Collection at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Winterthur, Delaware.

A Rare Crab-Form Tureen and Cover, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period, rounds out the exceptional Chinese export ceramics on offer and further showcases the couple’s love of these storied objects (estimate $100/200,000). The delicately and realistically modeled tureen is one of only four published examples, with one remaining in private hands, and the other two each residing in the Peabody Essex Museum and the Royal Academy Collection.

Additional highlights from the collection include John Richards’ The Battle of Fredericksburg – a remarkable oil on canvas from circa 1870 and likely the only extant example of a Civil War battle scene painted by an enlisted soldier serving in the battle (estimate $100/200,000) – and a Royal George III Silver-Gilt Figural Centerpiece by Paul Storr (estimate $30/50,000).

Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (1908-79) and Margaretta Large Fitler Murphy "Happy" Rockefeller (1926-2015) were widely known for their civic and philanthropic achievements. Throughout their lives together, they surrounded themselves with a collection that was in part inherited and in part deliberate, blended together in elegant refinement and exhibiting the consummate tastes of their time.

Nelson and Happy both had rarified upbringings. Nelson in particular grew up among beautiful objects from a multitude of cultures, and inherited from his mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, a fervent appreciation of craftsmanship and connoisseurship. Instilled with this unwavering fascination with art in all forms, Nelson revered the creative spirit that artists brought to their work – a sentiment that he and Happy shared throughout their lives together, no matter the artist’s anonymity or prominence.

Nelson’s distinguished political career reached its pinnacle during his service as the 49th Governor of New York from 1959–73 and as the 41st Vice President of the United States under Gerald Ford. His experience in business included top positions at a number of his family’s companies, most notably as president and chairman of Rockefeller Inc. As president of the board of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Nelson had access to the most forward thinking curatorial minds of the day, including founding visionary director, Alfred Barr Jr., who helped Nelson develop the confidence to collect and commission artworks unerringly for the rest of his life.

Happy received her nickname early in life due to her outgoing and easy temperament. From a prominent main-line Philadelphia family, her life was infused with a generous spirit of volunteerism; starting in the war years as a driver for the Women’s Volunteer Service, later on numerous campaign trails for Nelson, as an outspoken advocate for breast cancer awareness, as President of the Board of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and finally, as an official delegate to the United Nations.

While much of the couple’s collection was bequeathed to prestigious institutions and dispersed to various family members during Nelson’s lifetime, Happy continued to live with her favorite of the works. Taken together, this collection presents a lifestyle of spectacular refinement, emblematic of the Rockefeller style and taste of the 20th century.

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    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • 10004 An Extremeley Rare and Important Pair of Large Chinese Export Figures of a European Man and Lady in Jewish Costume
    10004 An Extremeley Rare and Important Pair of Large Chinese Export Figures of a European Man and Lady in Jewish Costume
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
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    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
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    10004 Crab-Form Tureen
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
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    10004 A Royal George III Silver-Gilt Figural Centerpiece
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
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    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
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    10004 Rockfeller Interior
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
  • Portrait of Nelson and Happy Rockefeller
    Portrait of Nelson and Happy Rockefeller
    Sotheby’s Auktionshaus
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