NEW YORK, NY. - Today Sotheby's announces details of its November 2014 sales series comprising the extraordinary collection of the late Rachel Lambert Mellon.
The auctions will commence on 10 November with an evening sale dedicated to a curated selection of Mrs. Mellon’s fine art, which encapsulates her sophisticated eye and approach to collecting. The pieces on offer in the Masterworks auction span four centuries, led by two incredible paintings by Mark Rothko that are estimated at $20/30 million and $15/20 million, respectively. Sotheby’s will present Mrs. Mellon’s collection of Jewels & Objects of Vertu in a dedicated auction beginning in the evening of 20 November – featuring a spectacular Fancy Vivid Blue diamond that is estimated at $10/15 million – and continuing the morning of the 21st. The series will culminate in a three-day Interiors sale from 21 – 23 November, offering fine art, furniture, porcelain, silver, glassware, decoration and more from the Mellons’ residences, providing an intimate portrait of their daily lives.
The more than 2,000 individual items on offer in the November auction series are drawn from the Mellons’ residences in the United States and abroad, and were acquired over a lifetime. Together the auctions are estimated to achieve in excess of $100 million. Proceeds from the sales will benefit The Gerard B. Lambert Foundation, a charitable entity established by Mrs. Mellon in memory of her father. The Foundation supports horticultural and educational endeavors.
Auction 10 November
Sotheby’s will offer a curated selection of important fine art from the collection in a dedicated evening auction on 10 November. Ranging from 17th-century still lifes through to masterpieces of the 20th century, the incredible breadth and depth of Mrs. Mellon’s fine art reveals her ultimate connoisseurship, and an approach to collecting and living with works across styles and genres that is increasingly rare.
The Masterworks auction is led by Mark Rothko’s Untitled (Yellow, Orange, Yellow, Light Orange) from 1955, which captures the ephemeral magic of daybreak (est. $20/30 million). The work belongs to the most pivotal moment in the artist’s career --- he painted only 22 works in this pinnacle year, 13 of which reside in prestigious museum collections. The collection also offers Rothko’s Untitled from 1970, classified as the penultimate painting in the artist’s prodigious oeuvre (est. $15/20 million). Both works have remained in the Mellons’ collection for more than 40 years.
The 10 November sale offers three monumental canvases from Richard Diebenkorn’s famed Ocean Park series, each acquired by the Mellons in the 1970s shortly after they were created. Not quite corporeal but not entirely abstract, the dazzling Ocean Park #61 engulfs the viewer with spectacular color, form and texture (est. $8/12 million). Executed in 1975 and acquired the same year, Ocean Park #89 conjures the warm, atmospheric haze of an early evening dusk (est. $8/12 million). And Ocean Park #50 from 1972 marks a transformative moment in the series, following an evolution in the tenor of the paintings that began to take hold in 1971 (est. $7/9 million).
Old Master paintings and drawings from the collection are led by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s Still Life (est. $3/4 million). Floral still life painting coalesced in the Netherlands as an independent form just after 1600, erupting almost simultaneously in Antwerp, Middleburg, The Hague and Amsterdam --- no doubt encouraged by the new and exotic flora being introduced to Europe by international trade. Bosschaert was the leading early master in this new genre, and this beautiful copper has been largely unseen for the last 50 years.
Mrs. Mrs. Mellon’s collection of American art includes works by Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper. Homer executed his oil sketch Children on the Beach in 1873, during his first visit to the busy fishing port of Gloucester, Massachusetts where he explored the subject of children at play in numerous works (est. $3/5 million). O’Keeffe painted White Barn during a 1932 trip to the Gaspé Peninsula in eastern Canada (est. $1.5/2.5 million). Although the barn was a motif O’Keeffe explored at numerous times in her career, the present example is remarkable for its strikingly-minimalist aesthetic. Following the purchase of his first car, Hopper created Coast Guard Cove during his second visit to the village of Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth, Maine in 1929 (est. $1/1.5 million). The majority of the works Hopper completed during this period were executed in watercolor, a medium that allowed him to accurately capture the fleeting qualities of light and shadow on this unique environment.
Impressionist and Modern works by Georges Seurat, Pablo Picasso and Camille Pissarro also highlight the Masterworks sale. Femme tenant un bouquet is one of two pieces in the collection by Seurat done in conté crayon on paper (est. $2/3 million). The artist’s evocative technique as a draughtsman was developed early in his career, and he executed the present portrait circa 1882 when he was only 22 years old. Painted in Barcelona in 1901, Picasso’s La Plage is a charming scene depicting a group of women and children playing at the beach --- a motif the artist returned to throughout his career (est. $1/1.5 million). Pissarro’s Paysanne assise et chèvre belongs to a series of works capturing the rural charm of Érangy, France, the small hamlet where the artist lived from 1884 until his death in 1903 (est. $1/1.5 million).
JEWELS & OBJECTS OF VERTU
Auction 20 & 21 November
Mrs. Mellon’s personal jewels and objects of vertu reflect her close relationships with the designers she loved: pieces from Verdura, Schlumberger and Givenchy appear in the collection, as well period jewels from Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Black Starr & Frost. A magnificent and rare Fancy Vivid Blue pear-shaped diamond --- its color reminiscent of the Hope Diamond --- paired with an important Fancy Blue Diamond anchor the collection, which also offers an exquisite Diamond Rivière by Cartier, the tapered line of diamonds completed by a Fancy Deep Yellow diamond clasp. In addition to these pieces, the auction will include an attractive array of wearable daytime jewels, gold accessories and objects of vertu, both modern and antique.
• A Magnificent and Rare Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond Pendant
The pear-shaped Fancy Vivid Blue diamond weighing 9.75 carats, mounted in platinum. Accompanied by a GIA report stating that the diamond is Fancy Vivid Blue, Natural Color, VVS2 clarity, potentially internally flawless Estimate $10/15 million
• An Important Fancy Blue Diamond Pendant
The pear-shaped Fancy Blue diamond weighing 9.15 carats, mounted in platinum. Accompanied by a GIA report stating that the diamond is Fancy Blue, Natural Color, VS1 clarity Estimate $1/1.5 million
• An Exquisite Gold and Diamond Rivière, Cartier Circa 1900
Of graduated design, set with 29 old European-cut diamonds weighing approximately 111.00 carats, completed with a clasp set with a round Fancy Deep Yellow diamond weighing 4.20 carats Estimate $1.25/1.5 million
• A Pair of 18 Karat Gold, Sapphire and Diamond Brooches, Van Cleef & Arpels
Designed as two flowerheads, the petals composed of round, oval and cushion-cut sapphires weighing approximately 20.00 carats, accented by numerous round and cushion-cut diamonds weighing approximately 9.80 carats Estimate $25/35,000
• A Gold, Gem-Set, Rock Crystal and Sodalite Rhinoceros, Fulco Di Verdura Mid-20th century Estimate $15/20,000
• An 18 Karat Gold, Peridot and Turquoise Compact, Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. Estimate $15/20,000
• An 18 Karat Gold, Amethyst and Turquoise Compact, Schlumberger for Tiffany & Co. Estimate $15/20,000
Auction 21 --- 23 November
The Interiors auction will offer fine art, furniture, porcelain, silver, glassware, decoration and more from Mrs. Mellon’s residences in the United States and abroad, which together provide a rare window into an era of collecting, living and entertaining that has since passed. Her love of horticulture is evident throughout the collection, including the significant selection of rare porcelain in vegetable and fruit forms, by celebrated makers such as Chelsea and Meissen. Her English and French furniture --- often painted, echoing the signature wood floors of her Oak Spring Farms residence --- exudes the understated elegance of the Mellons’ life, and was arranged always to take advantage of their spectacular surroundings in any given location. Mrs. Mellon’s close relationships with designers and artists are demonstrated again throughout the Interiors sale, from several works created by her longtime friend Diego Giacometti to linens bearing a custom design by Givenchy.
• Diego Giacometti Table basse trapézoidale, modèle aux cerfs et aux chiens Bronze Estimate $80/120,000
• A Meissen 'Brühlsche Allerlei' Part Dinner Service Estimate $70/100,000
• A Rare Set of Seven George III Parcel-Gilt Black-Japanned Dining Chairs Circa 1760 Estimate $60/80,000
• A Pair of Chelsea Asparagus Tureens and Covers Estimate $20/30,000
• A Pair of George IV Silver Pail-Form Wine Coolers, William Eley, London 1826 Estimate $50/80,000