- AMERICAN BUSINESS LEADER, WORLD WAR II NAVY VETERAN AND GENEROUS PHILANTHROPIST
- FORMER CHAIRMAN OF GOLDMAN SACHS, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE, AND CHAIRMAN OF NEW YORK’S POST-9/11 LOWER MANHATTAN DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
- MASTERWORKS FROM WHITEHEAD’S 90-PIECE COLLECTION TO ANCHOR CHRISTIE’S MAY EVENING AND DAY SALES
- MODIGLIANI, MONET, MORISOT, RENOIR, SEURAT AND VAN GOGH AMONG THE COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS
New York – Christie’s is honored to present Property from the Collection of John C. Whitehead, which will be offered as the cornerstone collection within Christie’s Spring sales of Impressionist and Modern Art on May 14 and 15. Works from Mr. Whitehead’s 90-piece collection will be featured in Christie’s flagship Evening Sale, followed by a second selection of Works on Paper and additional paintings the next day. The total collection is expected to achieve in excess of US$40 million.
Mr. Whitehead, who passed away in February, was among the captains of the global finance industry for four decades, having served as Chairman of Goldman Sachs during its critical phase of global expansion. His signature brand of quiet leadership earned him both success and accolades, making him a sought-after leader and an invaluable resource within finance and government sectors, as well as the philanthropic and educational community. He became a key diplomatic figure at the end of the Cold War, serving as Deputy Secretary of State during the Reagan administration, and later as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He led numerous civic and charitable organizations during his storied career, and in the wake of 9/11, he answered the call to serve as chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, tasked with rebuilding the area around Ground Zero. Throughout his career, he served on a wide range of boards, including Haverford College, the International Rescue Committee, the Boy Scouts of America, and Christie’s own American Advisory Board, among many others.
Stephen S. Lash, Christie’s Chairman Emeritus, remarked: “John Whitehead was highly respected in the worlds of business, culture and philanthropy. He displayed vision, generosity, and energy. He was one of those few people who had the ability to walk into almost any room and find himself among friends. While immensely modest, John was also a devoted and accomplished collector who lived surrounded by the works of his favorite French Impressionists. We are honored to be entrusted with this collection to pay tribute to the legacy of an admired and generous individual and to help steward his treasured works of art to their next homes.”
Throughout his career, Mr. Whitehead chose to live with his art, transporting it from his Sutton Place townhouse, to his various offices in New York, to Washington, D.C., and back again. While serving as deputy secretary of state he brought a selection of French Impressionist paintings to decorate his office, much to the surprise of State Department Curator Clem Conger. “I stood my ground,” Whitehead recalled in his autobiography, “and at least the French Ambassador, Bobby de Margerie, a former director of the Louvre, was very pleased.” Above all else, Mr. Whitehead’s collection was always driven by the pursuit of beauty: “I have never bought anything that I didn’t love,” he explained, “that I didn’t feel I’d enjoy looking at for the rest of my life.”
Mr. Whitehead started his collecting with deliberate care, first with works on paper, and later with paintings and sculpture, focusing on the French Impressionists and the Post-Impressionists. He worked closely with the New York art dealer and art historian Achim Moeller for over three decades, creating a diverse and highly cohesive collection of nearly 100 works. Two key paintings from the collection have been gifted to American museums, namely The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The National Gallery, in keeping with Mr. Whitehead’s wishes.
Achim Moeller commented: “John Whitehead was a man of remarkable integrity, taste and intellect, and I was privileged to have spent more than three decades working with him on a never-ending search for excellence. He was a passionate collector, and over the course of our relationship I saw his knowledge and love of art flourish. Together we assembled a collection of works that brought him great joy. It is now my hope that these works will find new homes where they will inspire the same delight and pleasure.”
Among the star works from the Whitehead Collection to be featured within the May Evening Sale are Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait de Béatrice Hastings from 1916 (US$7-10million) and Claude Monet’s Paysage de matin (Giverny) (US$6-8million; pictured page one). Together, these works depict the sweeping range of the collection; Modigliani’s portrait representing the dynamism of the European Avant-Garde and Monet’s landscape evoking the purity of French Impressionism with its revelry in light.
Amedeo Modigliani, Portrait de Béatrice Hastings, oil on canvas, 1916. US$7-10million
- This dynamic portrait depicts Modigliani’s muse Béatrice Hastings, one of many pen names for South African writer, poet and literary critic, Emily Alice Haigh.
- Hastings frequently posed for Modigliani, with whom she shared an apartment in Monteparnasse.
- Modigliani used portraiture, especially of those in his immediate circle, as a means to explore an idealised aspect of humanity, an image of internal as well as external likeness.
- With its expressive painterly surface, Béatrice Hastings, is in glorious physical condition, giving it the appearance of just having left the easel.
Claude Monet, Paysage de matin (Giverny), oil on canvas, 1888. US$6-8million – pictured on page 1, right
- Paysage de matin (Giverny) is a consummate example of the luminescent landscapes completed by Monet during his distinguished middle career.
- Monet executed these works by situating himself in the midst of the French countryside with the hopes of encapsulating the light and conditions of a summer day within his canvases. Paysage de matin is an exceptional illustration of Monet’s ability to capture the light effects of his beloved Giverny.
- The present work is representative of Monet’s most sought after qualities, contributing to its broad global appeal.
Full collection catalogue available in mid-April
Notes to the Editors:
- In 2014, Christie’s achieved global sales of US$1.2 billion for Impressionist and Modern Art, an increase of 19% over the previous year.
- Christie’s holds the world auction record for a work by Claude Monet at $ 80.4 million with Les Bassins aux Nympheas, 1919, sold at Christie’s London in 2008.
Tour dates for the Collection of John C. Whitehead:
Hong Kong: 16-20 March 2015
London: 11-15 April 2015
New York: 2 -13 May 2015
Evening Sale: 14 May 2015 at 7pm EDT
Day and Works on Paper sales: 15 May 2015 at 10am & 2pm
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