NEW YORK - On the heels of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on May 6, at which paintings by Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir from the Estate of Huguette M. Clark fetched US$40.9 million, Christie’s is pleased to unveil further offerings from its June 18 auction of An American Dynasty: The Clark Family Treasures. With 357 lots in total, the day-long auction will feature an impressive selection of American and 19th Century Art, important musical instruments, a veritable library of rare first-edition books, Gilded Age furnishings, and numerous decorative items owned by Huguette Clark, her mother Anna, and her father Senator William A. Clark. Christie’s has been entrusted with the sale of the collection by the Honorable Ethel J. Griffin, New York County’s Public Administrator, who oversees the estate. The proceeds from the auctions will benefit the Clark Estate and its goal of establishing a charitable foundation devoted to arts and culture.
As one of the most anticipated events of the spring auction season, the upcoming sale features numerous never before-seen treasures from the family collection that are emblematic of the Clark’s refined lifestyle and their position among the wealthiest American families of the early 20th Century. Among the star fine art lots of the sale is John Singer Sargent’s Girl Fishing (illustrated below; estimate: $3 – 5 million) and William Merritt Chase’s jewel-like A Water Fountain in Prospect Park, believed to have been a gift direct from the artist to W.A. Clark (illustrated below; estimate: $500,000 – 700,000). Personal items include formal painted portraits of Senator Clark and Anna Clark, opera glasses used by Huguette and her mother Anna for attending the theater, a 328-piece American silver flatware service for entertaining, monogrammed dressing sets by Cartier and Tiffany & Co., and a selection of early 20th century Cartier picture frames.
As part of the preview exhibition for the auction, Christie’s will also unveil a selection of never-before-seen paintings by Huguette Clark, an accomplished artist in her own right. The sale features 17 full-size oil-on-canvas paintings by the copper mining heiress, including still-lifes, cityscapes, and self-portraits created in the sunlit art studio she maintained in her Fifth Avenue apartment.
A truly exceptional feature of the Clark Family collection is the spectacular Stradivari violin known as “The Kreutzer”. Executed circa 1731, the instrument was named for Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831), the great French violinist, who is perhaps best known as the dedicatee of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 9, Opus 47, also known as the Kreutzer Sonata. Celebrated as a violin virtuoso, composer, and teacher, Kreutzer left behind a great body of work including nineteen violin concertos and forty operas. As a founding member of the Conservatoire de Paris, he set the standard for the French school of violin performance and his 42 Études ou Caprices remain the fundamental teaching tool for all violin performance to this day. Kreutzer owned and played his namesake Stradivari from about 1795 until his death in 1831, when he bequeathed it to his protégée, the violinist and teacher Joseph Lambert Massart. It later passed through important collections in France until its purchase in 1920 by W.A. and Anna Clark for their then-teenaged daughter Huguette Clark, who was already an accomplished student of both music and painting. The pleased parents heralded the purchase of the legendary Kreutzer with a telegram to Huguette from Paris reading “Darling…bought you the most wonderful violin in the world”.
The Kreutzer will be sold via a special sealed bid auction timed to run in parallel to Christie’s saleroom auction of the Collection, with bidding opening on Friday, June 6. For further details on the Kreutzer Stradivari and the bidding process, please visit www.christies.com/kreutzer. Full sale catalogue now available for browsing online at www.christies.com
Press preview: Friday, June 13 at 10am
Public exhibition: Saturday, June 14 through Tuesday, June 17, 10am – 5pm
Auction (live and online): Wednesday, June 18 at 10am
Christie’s, 20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY