Sotheby's to Offer Pacific Art from the Harry A. Franklin Collection
Sotheby's to Present Exceptional Pacific Art from the Collection of Harry A. Franklin, Beverly Hills
Led by Four Masterworks Acquired by Franklin at the
Landmark Sale of the Collection of Helena Rubinstein At Sotheby's Parke-Bernet in 1966:
An Early Maori Figure Formerly in the
Collection of André Breton
Estimate on Request
A War Club from the Marquesas Islands
A Rare Mask from the Northern Islands of Vanuatu
An Enigmatic Wooden Sculpture from Easter Island
Exhibitions: Paris 6 - 10 April | New York 3 - 12 May
AUCTION IN NEW YORK 13 MAY
NEW YORK, 2 April 2019 – Sotheby’s is delighted to announce the auction of Pacific Art from the Collection of Harry A. Franklin, Beverly Hills this May in New York, presented alongside our marquee spring sale week of Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary Art.
A visionary pioneer in the field of African & Oceanic Art, Harry A. Franklin (1904–1983) was the first major promoter of this collecting category in California. His interest in <image002.png>collecting began in the 1940s while working as an executive at an apparel company. By the mid-1950s – eager to pursue his passion for art and embark on a more adventurous career – he opened up his first gallery on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles, immersing himself in a world of art and scholarship. Franklin's gallery quickly became a meeting place for adventurers, academics, museum curators, and glamorous Hollywood personalities, serving as the conduit between these worlds. Always charming and impeccably-dressed, Franklin was equally comfortable with anthropologists as he was with film stars and was renowned for his superb eye for quality. He counted among his clients Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra, Edward G. Robinson, John Huston, Vincent Price, and many other notable art collectors across the United States and Europe.
Franklin’s famed personal art collection has a successful past with Sotheby’s, having made auction history in 1990 with the record-breaking sale of his African Art collection at Sotheby’s New York. That sale included one of the world's most beloved African statues, the Bangwa Queen – a superb statue from Cameroon that was famously photographed by Man Ray. Sold for $3.4 million dollars, the statue shattered the world auction record for an African artwork at the time and marked the beginning of a new era of collecting in the category. Twenty-nine years later, the Franklin Collection is poised to make history again, with the offering of his collection of art from the Pacific Islands.
Franklin's impressive collection of Pacific Art has remained in the family since his passing in the early 1980s and includes a deep selection of sculpture from the ancient island cultures of Oceania including works from New Zealand and the Polynesian Islands, as well as Melanesia and Papua New Guinea, in particular. Notably, the collection features a number of works that Franklin acquired directly in the legendary 1966 auction of the Collection of Helena Rubinstein at Sotheby’s Parke-Bernet in New York. The appearance of the Franklin Collection at auction represents a rare opportunity for collectors to acquire pieces which have not been seen on the art market in half a century.
Jean Fritts, Sotheby’s Worldwide Chairman of African & Oceanic Art, commented: “Sotheby’s is honored to once again present masterpieces from the Franklin Collection at auction. Harry Franklin was famous for his discerning eye for non-western art, and his passionate devotion to the fields of African & Oceanic Art. Specifically, the Franklin Collection not only demonstrates the incredible variety in the art of the Pacific but is by far the most important collection of works of art from Oceania to be offered for sale in the United States since the Helena Rubinstein auction of 1966.”
A selection of highlights will be on view at Sotheby’s Paris from 6 – 10 April, before the full collection is exhibited in our newly expanded and reimagined New York galleries from 3 – 12 May, alongside the public exhibitions of Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary Art.
The following four sculptures were previously in the collection of the cosmetics magnate and legendary art collector Helena Rubinstein (1872–1965), and were acquired by Franklin in the 1966 auction of the Collection of Helena Rubinstein at Sotheby's Parke-Bernet in New York:
MAORI GABLE FIGURE (TEKOTEKO)
Prior to its acquisition by Rubinstein, this major early Maori Sculpture of stacked human figures was in the collection of the famed founder of Surrealism, André Breton, and a recently-uncovered photograph confirms that before Breton it was owned by the British collector William Oldman (estimate on request). The Maori Gable Figure – called a tekoteko – was fitted for a base by the Japanese wood artist Kichizô Inagaki. The figure is seen in several period photographs of Helena Rubinstein’s richly-decorated Paris apartment.
CLUB ('U'U), MARQUESAS ISLANDS
The art of the Marquesas Islands was made famous in Europe at the turn of the 20th century by the French painter Paul Gaugin. Drawn to the extraordinary sculptural creativity of the Marquesan artists, Gauguin took up residence there in 1901, remaining there for the rest of his life.
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