Rockefeller Style: Art and Objects

Christie’s specialists Conor Jordan and Becky MacGuire discuss the Rockefellers’ love of living with art; the connection between art and objects; and the joy of connoisseurship

‘David Rockefeller always said that he and Peggy were always very concerned that they shouldn’t live in a museum,’ says Conor Jordan, Christie’s Deputy Chairman of Impressionist and Modern Art. For the Rockefellers, collecting was ‘about having the object around you in your home, experiencing it everyday.’  

Speaking in Hong Kong in November 2017, Jordan and Becky MacGuire, Senior Specialist in Decorative Arts and Design, discussed the Rockefellers’ practice of living with art; the connection between art and objects; and the joy of connoisseurship.

MacGuire agrees with Jordan’s assessment of the family’s collecting philosophy. ‘The most fantastic thing for me about this collection was the magical way the Rockefellers really lived with their art; completely relaxed and natural,’ she says. Photographs of the Rockefeller homes reveal ‘how gracefully and naturally they incorporated important Chinese works of art with important modern masterpieces, alongside English decoration and English furniture.’

‘I was touched to hear how David Rockefeller would, at the end of each night, go around and switch off the picture lights on each of the paintings,’ Jordan says. ‘He was so engaged with every object.’