Most Significant Philanthropic Auction - Christie’s Unveils Highlights from The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller

Christie’s announces the first highlights from the collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller to be unveiled in Hong Kong on November 24, which marks the start of a global tour of collection highlights. The collection will be offered for sale at Christie’s Rockefeller Center Galleries in New York in the Spring of 2018.  The collection sale will be the most significant philanthropic auction ever presented, with all the Estate sale proceeds destined to benefit selected charities.

Peggy and David Rockefeller

For the first Hong Kong highlights exhibition, Christie’s has selected paintings, furniture and works of art that reflect the Rockefeller family’s wide ranging interests and intellectual pursuits. Gathered over a lifetime and inherited from previous generations, the Collection reflects the Rockefeller family’s deep, life-long passion for Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Modern works of art, American paintings, English and European furniture, Asian works of art, European ceramics and Chinese export porcelain, silver, and American decorative arts and furniture, among other categories.

 Fillette à la corbeille fleurie. Estimate: US$70,000,000

A Rose Period masterpiece, executed in 1905, Picasso’s Fillette à la corbeille fleurie (Young Girl with a Flower Basket) is a highlight of the collection.

Rich in pathos in its depiction of bohemian life at the turn of the 20th century, this rare work is a tour de force of draughtsmanship and atmosphere. Peggy and David Rockefeller acquired the painting in 1968 and placed it in the library of their 65th Street New York townhouse.

Odalisque couchée aux magnolias. Estimate: US$50,000,000.

Odalisque couchée aux magnolias, painted in Nice in 1923, is the most important work by Henri Matisse to be offered on the market in a generation. The subject of the odalisque, the reclining female figure, held special significance for Matisse as it presented the opportunity to measure his art against past masters.

With its symphony of pattern and form, Odalisque couchée aux magnolias  has long been counted among the greatest of Matisse’s paintings in private hands. This sumptuous painting hung in the living room of Peggy and David’s Hudson Pines home. Odalisque couchée aux magnolias  is also the highest estimated work by Matisse ever to be offered at auction.

Nymphéas en fleur. Estimate: US$35,000,000.

Monet’s beloved garden at Giverny was a source of unending inspiration. Nymphéas en fleur  is among the largest, most brilliantly coloured and vigorously worked canvases that the artist executed — a glorious tribute to the natural world. This work belongs to a group of paintings Monet painted in a burst of creativity between 1914 and 1917, in the midst of the First World War.

Alfred Barr (left) and David Rockefeller (right)

On the recommendation of Alfred Barr, the first director of the Museum of Modern Art, Peggy and David Rockefeller visited the Parisian dealer Katia Granoff and purchased the present painting in 1956. ‘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.

An Imperial gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus, China, Kangxi Period (1662-1722). Estimate: US$400,000-600,000

Alongside masterpieces by great painters, the sale also offers strong line-up of exquisite Chinese works of art. Leading the Chinese works of art from the collection is a magnificent gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus made in the imperial workshops by order of the Kangxi Emperor (1662-1722). In Chinese Buddhism, Amitayus is revered as the god of long life, and it is likely that this bronze was commissioned as a birthday gift for a member of the imperial family.

Imperial blue and white ‘dragon’ bowl, Xuande six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle and of the period (1426-1435). Estimate: US$100,000 - 150,000. 

Another important Chinese work is an imperial blue and white ‘dragon’ bowl, Xuande six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle and of the period (1426-1435). Two exuberantly painted five-clawed dragons, symbols of imperial authority, writhe around the sides of the bowl in pursuit of flaming pearls, while a third dragon appears within a circular medallion on the interior. 

Two Sèvres (hard paste) porcelain iron-red and sky-blue ground sugar-bowls and an ice-pail, cover and liner. Estimate: US$150,000-250,000

Among the works in the collection with important provenance are the selection of pieces from the Sèvres porcelain ‘Marly Rouge’ dessert service made for Emperor Napoleon I of France. Although plates have appeared on the art market in recent years, the portion of the service to be offered in the Rockefeller Collection includes pieces from the original delivery not seen on the art market since Abby Aldrich Rockefeller acquired the part-service more than 75 years ago.

Selections from a Chinese export dinner service in The ‘Rockefeller pattern’. Estimate: $100,000-150,000.

Several generations of the Rockefeller family collected Chinese export porcelain with the above richly enamelled decoration, which came to be known as ‘Rockefeller pattern’. Each piece in the pattern is carefully painted with a beautifully detailed and completely unique Chinese scene, contained within sepia and gilt-patterned borders.  It was the most elaborate pattern made in the last great era of the China Trade, produced as just a few enormous dinner services for the most important China Traders of the day. 

Highlights from the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Fillette à la corbeille fleurie.

Created in: 1905
Size: 154.8 x 66.1cm
Estimate: US$70,000,000

Henri Matisse (1869-1954). Odalisque couchée aux magnolias.

Created in: 1923
Size: 60.5 x 81.1cm
Estimate: US$50,000,000

Claude Monet (1840-1926). Nymphéas en fleur.

Created in: 1914-1917
Size: 160.9 x 180.8cm
Estimate: US$35,000,000

An Imperial gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus
China, Kangxi Period (1662-1722).

Height: 41.9 cm
Estimate: US$400,000-600,000

Imperial blue and white ‘dragon’ bowl, Xuande six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle and of the period (1426-1435).

Diameter: 21cm
Estimate: US$100,000 - 150,000

Two Sèvres (hard paste) porcelain iron-red and sky-blue ground sugar-bowls and an ice-pail, cover and liner
From the Napoleonic dessert service known as the ‘Service Marly Rouge’, blue stencilled marks, various incised marks.

Created in: 1807-1809
Estimate: US$150,000-250,000

Selections from a Chinese export dinner service in The ‘Rockefeller pattern’
A Pair of fruit coolers, covers and liners (6 pieces). 11½ inches (29.2 cm) high.

Created in: circa 1805.
Estimate: US$100,000-150,000