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(Possibly) Lady Lucas, removed from Wrest Park, Ampthill, Bedfordshire; Christie’s, London, 16 November 1917, lot 110, as ‘School of Rubens / Portrait of Justus Lipsius, in black dress trimmed with fur, white ruff and a gold chain, on panel, 24 x 19 in.’ (67 gns. to Sargent) .
with the Galerie van Diemen, Berlin, 1921 (noted, privately, as coming from England).
Kojiro Matsukata (1865-1950), Tokyo, by 1922; Sotheby’s, New York, 13 March 1985, lot 117, as ‘Manner of Rubens’.
with Colnaghi’s, 1986.
PROPERTY FROM THE BEBE AND CROSBY KEMPER COLLECTION (LOT 17)
Crosby and Bebe Kemper were, for many years, among the most dynamic forces on the Kansas City art scene. It is, therefore, a privilege to be presenting for sale this picture from their collection, which illustrates both their eye for quality and the fascination with history which is a hallmark of the Kemper collecting taste.
Kansas City has for decades been a fertile ground for the collecting of classic European art. It is home to the greatest painting by Caravaggio in the US (a painting rejected by the Metropolitan Museum in New York in 1951) among many others in the Nelson-Atkins Museum. Crosby was an extraordinarily generous supporter of that museum and I well remember working with him, when in the face of considerable uncertainty over its condition, we went ahead and bought the magnificent Portrait of Mrs. Cecil Wade by John Singer Sargent at public auction in 1986. The belief in his own judgment, his commitment to Art with a capital ‘A’ and his unbounded generosity, all of which were exhibited with this purchase and its subsequent donation to the Nelson-Atkins Museum all typify Crosby both as a man and as a collector.
The collection which he and Bebe formed is extremely eclectic, as one might expect from a couple of such intellectual curiosity. It includes the tender portrait of Baronne de Thiers, niece of the collector and Watteau’s great patron, Pierre Crozat, by the French 18th-century portraitist, Nattier, a portrait of Rembrandt’s patron, Susanna Pellicorne by Poelenbergh, as well as portraits by Greuze, Corot, Caillebotte, Degas, Wyeth and even Lucien Freud. Clearly Crosby and Bebe have been especially drawn to portraiture and perhaps that says something about their sociability and their humanity. When I came to America as a young art dealer in 1983, Crosby and Bebe, who were among my earliest clients, were unfailingly hospitable when I visited Kansas City or even when they came en famille to New York.
Crosby passed away in January 2014, but his legacy will live on in the numerous institutions to which he and Bebe were so generous. Among them were the Nelson-Atkins Museum, but there was also the Kansas City Symphony, the Whitney Museum, Monticello and the Addison Gallery at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. In the end perhaps their greatest and most generous contribution was to their own Kemper Museum which houses an important collection of Post-War and Contemporary art.
R. Oldenbourg, Rubens, Klassiker der Kunst, Berlin, Leipzig, 1921, p. 178.
Matsukata Family Collection, Toyko, 1957, fig 14.
M. Nomura, Sekai Bijutsu Zenshu 3: Rubens Rembrandt, Yamada Shoin, 1967, fig. 14.
E. Larsen, ‘Three lesser known works by Rubens’, Jaarboek van het Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten Antwerpen, 1969, pp. 155-60.
Shuji Takashina, Kindai No Bijutsu, Matsukata Family Collection, 1971 , fig. 87.
Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo, 1977, Foreign Paintings, no. 3.
Tokyo, Tasei Meiga, 1922.
Tokyo, Bridgestone Gallery, on loan, 1953-1977.
Tokyo, Bridgestone Gallery, Ex-Matsukata Collection, 1953, no. 16.
Tokyo, Bridgestone Gallery, 2nd Ex-Matsukata Collection, 1955, no. 2.
Kyoto, Municipal Museum of Art, Seijo Bijutsu Meisaku, 1957, no. 266.
Kurume, Ishibashi Art Gallery, Ex-Matsukata Collection, 1957, no. 2.