Christie’s Selected to Lead Landmark Philanthropic Sales on Behalf of the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts to Benefit Arts and Science Charities
International Tour Begins in Hong Kong in May featuring Rare Chinese Decorative Arts and Masterworks by Canaletto, Cassatt and Matisse
New York – The legendary Ann & Gordon Getty Collection will be sold at Christie’s through a series of landmark auctions beginning October 2022. A symphonic tour-de-force of masterpieces drawn meticulously from history’s most esteemed collections and from one of America’s most storied interiors, The Ann & Gordon Getty Collection stands alone in its quality, rarity and beauty. Nearly 1,500 superlative works of decorative and fine arts will be offered by Christie’s from the couple’s San Francisco residence. Continuing the Gettys’ lifelong commitment to philanthropic causes, proceeds from the sales this October, which are expected to achieve as much as $180 million, will benefit the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts, devoted to the support of arts and science organizations. Designated beneficiaries will include leading California-based organizations with whom the Gettys have had a longstanding relationship, including the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, University of San Francisco, Berkeley Geochronology Center, and the Leakey Foundation.
Gordon Getty commented: “Though she left us far too soon, I know Ann would be proud that her exquisite eye and unmatched dedication to craftsmanship and scholarship are being shared with the world, and that the philanthropic planning around our art collection is being realized. These sales are a continuation of the longstanding philanthropic goals of the Getty family first established by my father, J. Paul Getty.”
Ann Getty’s intellect, curiosity and masterful feel for assemblage guided the Gettys in curating a world-renowned museum-quality collection across their Californian houses, including the very finest examples of English and European furniture, Asian works of art, European ceramics, Chinese export porcelain, silver, European and Asian textiles, and Impressionist and Old Master paintings. Vivid, daring, and steeped in history, the Collection evokes the golden age of England’s great houses; the fabled Grand Tour; the exotic tastes of the European courts; the feats of women adventurers, such as Isabella Bird in India and Gertrude Bell in the Middle East; and the vibrant intellectual circle of the Blue Stockings in the mid-18th century, such as Mary Delany and Queen Charlotte. Ann Getty masterfully styled each of their residences with distinctive details, themes, and layering. The Collection encapsulated the couple’s intellectual curiosity about the arts, music, science, and travel. Every object was hand-picked with a deep appreciation of its beauty and the artisanship that went into its creation.
Bonnie Brennan, President, Christie’s Americas, remarked: “The Getty Collection is one of America’s legendary treasures. It tells a prolific international story of passion and patronage—the life’s work of an extraordinary American family whose philanthropy has indelibly shaped the arts and culture in the United States. We are honored to have been entrusted by Gordon and the late Ann Getty to share their incomparable collecting journey with a global audience, and, through the sale of their collection at Christie’s, to continue their commitment to supporting the arts and sciences through the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts.”
Christie’s will offer the sale of works from The Ann & Gordon Getty Collection in October 2022 at Rockefeller Center in New York, featuring property drawn entirely from the Gettys’ house in San Francisco. An emblematic selection of highlights from the Collection will begin a global tour this summer, debuting in Hong Kong from May 21-26.
THE MOST CELEBRATED INTERIOR IN AMERICA
Situated in the heart of San Francisco’s historic Pacific Heights neighborhood, Ann and Gordon Getty’s principal residence was an impressive historic townhouse. Reminiscent of the great townhouses of London, it represented the culmination of a lifetime of collecting and was known as the most celebrated interior in America. From an extraordinary group of Vedute by Canaletto and his followers, poetically connecting the City by the Bay to the Venetian Lagoon, the Gettys’ San Francisco house also included an exquisite group of 19th and early 20th century paintings and pastels by Jacques-Emile Blanche, Henri Matisse and Mary Cassatt, among others. The reception rooms were filled with important 18th century English furniture that recalled the great English interiors of such stately homes as Badminton, Grimsthorpe, St. Giles, and Spencer House. Ann Getty mixed period and style, layering objects from India and Imperial China, the Ottoman Empire, and masterpieces of French ormolu with paintings and furniture to create a sophisticated and fluid exchange of cultural ideas and perspectives. Connecting them all was an extraordinary collection of 18th and 19th century textiles, including works from the great Corsini sale and Venetian weavers, along with vibrant weavings from Central Asia. If an interior can be said to be a biography of its owners, then the bold and fiercely imaginative installation of the Gettys’ San Francisco house is one.
HIGHLIGHTS ON VIEW IN HONG KONG
Selected highlights from The Collection of Ann & Gordon Getty will travel to Hong Kong from May 21-26, including:
GIOVANNI ANTONIO CANAL, IL CANALETTO
Entrance to the Grand Canal looking East, with Santa Maria della Salute at right
oil on canvas
52 ½ x 65 ⅜ in.
Commissioned in 1745
Estimate: in the region of $6,000,000
Monumental in scale and majestic in subject, Canaletto’s Entrance to the Grand Canal Looking East crystallizes many themes in the collection, not only the love of Venice itself, but in its orientation looking east, it reminds us of Venice at the end of the Silk Road: a market for the exotic and rare.
Chrysanthèmes dans un vase de Chine
signed ‘H Matisse’ (lower left)
oil on board
28 x 21 ⅜ in.
Painted in 1902
Estimate: in the region of $4,000,000
Henri Matisse’s love of color, abstract form, and the exotic is summarized in Chrysanthèmes dans un vase de Chine (1902). The palette draws together many of the colors so much loved by Mrs. Getty. A beacon on the staircase, the picture encouraged the exploration of the upper floors of the Gettys’ San Francisco house, thoughtfully placed in quiet conversation with an ancient Guanyin seated on a lotus in an adjacent alcove.
Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right
signed ‘M. Cassatt’ (center left)
pastel and gouache with metallic paint on paper
25 ¼ x 21 7/8 in.
Executed circa 1878-79
Estimate: in the region of $3,000,000
Taking pride of place atop a lacquer bookcase in Mrs. Getty’s bedroom was Mary Cassatt’s Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right (circa 1878-79). The work’s first owner was fellow painter Paul Gauguin, who said that “Mlle Cassatt has as much charm, but she has more power” than her female contemporaries. Among Cassatt’s first forays into a purely Impressionist style, and likely included in the 4th Impressionist Exhibition, the revolutionary image of a young woman holding a butterfly-like fan is part of a small series of works depicting the elegant upper-class audiences of late 19th century French theatre. Cassatt’s bold originality is demonstrated by her choice of portraying an active female perspective in lieu of a passive male gaze. Mary Cassatt’s use of a mirror behind the young woman also notably recalls Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère.
Vaslav Nijinsky in ‘Danse Siamoise’
signed ‘J.E. Blanche’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
87 x 47 5/8 in.
Painted circa 1911
Estimate: in the region of $1.5M
The gauze-lined drawing room of the Gettys’ Pacific Heights house was dominated by this portrait of the dancer and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky. Globally recognized as the greatest male dancer of his time, Nijinsky, born in Kyiv to Polish parents, was the celebrated premier danseur of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. This, the largest and most important portrait in Jacques-Émile Blanche’s oeuvre, is Nijinsky in ‘Danse Siamoise.’
Originally owned by Princess Edmond de Polignac, former Winaretta Singer, it was inherited by her niece Daisy Fellowes. The painting was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. Getty at Christie’s in 1995.
A PAIR OF GEORGE II BLACK-JAPANNED AND PARCEL-GILT ARMCHAIRS
By William and John Linnell, circa 1752-55
40 3/4 in. high, 26 1/2 in. wide, 20 1/2 in. deep
Estimate: in the region of $120,000
These iconic chairs were made for one of the most famous chinoiserie rooms in England, the Chinese bedroom at Badminton House, and were supplied circa 1754 by the cabinet-makers William and John Linnell. Remarkably, Linnell’s original designs for these chairs survive as a fascinating document of the original commission, while the famous bed and two other armchairs from the suite are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Fanciful Western interpretations of what Chinese furniture might look like, they are emblematic of the fascination for the exotic prevalent in Europe in the 18th century. These armchairs formed an integral part of Mrs. Getty’s own masterful and romantic vision of Cathay in the living room, and stood proudly near the entrance of one of the most remarkable interiors in America.
MAP OF CANTON PROVINCE
Chinese School, 1739
40 x 64 in.
Estimate: in the region of $100,000
This unique 18th-century map of the Pearl River Delta is a very early record of the major port of Guangzhou, which became southern China’s international trading center with the English and the Portuguese. This map was instigated by imperial decree, and was used in an administrative capacity by the new Qianlong Emperor. No other impression is recorded.
The map has been widely exhibited, including at the British Library in 1974. Hung in the library corridor of their San Francisco residence, it hinted at Mr. and Mrs. Getty’s deep interest in and love of travel.
ABOUT ANN AND GORDON GETTY
Ann Getty (1941-2020) is remembered as a philanthropist, publisher, author, interior designer, and patron of the arts. A California native, Mrs. Getty grew up on a farm in Wheatland, CA. She founded Ann Getty and Associates, a San Francisco-based residential interior design firm. Mrs. Getty was an influential benefactor to countless organizations throughout her lifetime, including the University of California Berkeley, the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Symphony, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Leakey Foundation and the Napa Valley Festival. In New York, she served on the boards of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, and New York University.
Gordon Peter Getty (b.1933) is a philanthropist and American composer who has made a lifetime of contributions to the world of classical music. In 2019, he was awarded the prestigious European Culture Prize, recognizing his extraordinary legacy. Gordon Getty's music has been performed in such prestigious venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, London’s Royal Festival Hall, Vienna’s Brahmssaal, Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall and Bolshoi Theatre, and Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, as well as at the Aspen, Spoleto and Bad Kissingen Festivals, and Festival Napa Valley. He is the fourth child of J. Paul Getty (1892-1976), whose celebrated collection of art and antiquities formed the basis of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
ABOUT THE ANN AND GORDON GETTY FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS
The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts was established in 2022 to fulfill Mr. and Mrs. Getty’s joint philanthropic commitment to creativity and learning and their belief that art, in all its forms, is vital to ensuring a community’s prosperity. The Foundation, funded with the Getty Art Collection, will use proceeds from the Christie’s sale to support a group of leading California-based arts and science organizations with whom the Gettys have had a longstanding relationship, including the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, University of San Francisco, Berkeley Geochronology Center, and the Leakey Foundation. The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation for the Arts plans to distribute all of its charitable resources within the next three to five years, seeking to leave a legacy to carry future generations forward.