MEDIA ALERT | The Mezzacappa Collection | New York | October 9, 2015


New York


“Even if the sitter were not my father, I’d still be struck by the beauty, quiet majesty and sheer technical brilliance of this picture. But Freud also captures something about my father that is not possible to describe. It’s not a pose, or a facial expression, rather something closer to his essence, his soul. It goes way beyond the merely representational and ends up being a complete portrait of my father in every way”   — Tom Parker Bowles, son of Andrew Parker Bowles 

New York – On the night of Tuesday, November 10, Christie’s New York will pay tribute to the eyes of a modern Renaissance man, the distinguished connoisseur and patron Damon Mezzacappa who assembled a major collection of abstract and figurative works. The highlight of the collection, Lucian Freud’s majestic The Brigadier, painted between 2003-2004, is an important portrait of Andrew-Parker Bowles, and one of Lucian Freud’s most imposing and powerful portraits.  Recently included in the highly acclaimed 2012 retrospective of the artist’s work organized by the National Portrait Gallery in London, The Brigadier will be on view to the public at Christie’s King Street from October 10-17, before being sold in New York.

The Brigadier is a painting of contrasts; between light and dark, the old world order and the new, and the venerable traditions of portraiture and the rejuvenation of contemporary painting. Set against the dark backdrop of Freud’s studio, the sumptuous decoration of Parker Bowles’ uniform is portrayed in resplendent detail. The delicately embroidered brocade of his dress uniform, the dramatic red stripe that adorns his trousers and the glinting row of medals that decorate his chest are all indicative of the subject’s status within the upper echelons of the British Establishment. This sense of prestige is heightened by the setting in which Freud places his subject. Like nearly all of his portraits, Freud paints his sitters in his studio; dark and anonymous and set against a foreboding background, the luminescent detail of Parker Bowles uniform and the exacting detail of his face illuminate the entire canvas.

Lucian Freud met Andrew Parker Bowles through their shared love of horses. Though, Freud loved all animals, he had a particular affinity with horses in his capacity as Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry, Parker Bowles would occasionally lend Freud horses so that the artist could go riding through one of London’s magnificent parks. Parker Bowles fondly remembers the artist’s abilities as an accomplished horseman, “Lucian had a remarkable affinity with animals, with dogs and horses especially” he recalled, “When he was at school at Dartington Hall, they had riding and he slept in the stables. He was fearless and loved galloping. It terrified me as he refused to wear any headgear” (A. Parker Bowles, quoted by J. McEwen, ‘My Favourite Painting: Tom Parker Bowles—The Brigadier by Lucian Freud,’ Country Life, March 19, 2014, p. 56).

Prince Charles and Andrew Parker-Bowles playing polo at Smiths Lawn, Windsor, circa 1975.

Parker Bowles was unlike many of Freud’s other models who tended to congregate in the anonymous margins of society, such as the performance artist Leigh Bowery or local government worker Sue Tilley. Andrew Parker Bowles however came from the other end of the social spectrum and was diametrically opposed in almost every conceivable way. Born in 1939 into the upper echelons of English society (he is a great-grandson of the 6th Earl of Macclesfield), Parker Bowles was raised at the edges of the Royal Household and was a page boy at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. In 1960, at the age of 21, he was commissioned into the Royal Horse Guards, one of the most prestigious units of the British Army, and began a distinguished career of military service.  He served in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, during the height of the violent unrest between the ruling Unionists and those seeking independence from Britain, and he was an aide to the Governor of Rhodesia during that country’s transition to independence in 1979-1980. Between 1981-1983 when he was the Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (the Queen’s official bodyguard) four soldiers and seven horses from his regiment were killed by bombs planted by members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as they rode in London’s Hyde Park. Later in his career he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding the Household Cavalry and Silver Stick in Waiting to Her Majesty the Queen (a largely ceremonial position as a personal bodyguard to the Royal Household), before retiring from the army as a brigadier in 1994. In addition to his army career, Parker Bowles was also a distinguished horseman and a finisher in the 1969 Grand National on his horse The Fossa. On a personal level, he was married for more than twenty years to Camilla Parker-Bowles, before the couple divorced and Camilla went on to marry Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and become Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.


The Mezzacappa Collection includes an important Max Pechstein to be sold in the New York evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on November 12th and a beautiful Armando Morales, which will be part of the evening sale of Latin American Art on November 24th.

Untitled (Gray Painting with Spoon) ­– 1962, is one of the most important of Jasper Johns’ early paintings, as the luxurious surface demonstrates why the artist became so captivated of the color gray. This assemblage of brushstrokes, from brief staccato jabs to more melodious movements, serve to convey one purpose –that of demonstrating Johns’ belief that gray afforded him the greatest possibilities in the pursuit of his art. Containing several found objects, John’s painting references one of his artistic heroes Marcel Duchamp. Included in Johns’ first solo museum show at the Jewish Museum in 1964, this work was painted during a period of great change as the tectonic plates of art shifted from Abstract Expressionism to Minimalism and Pop.

The year 1956 was a watershed one for the artist Joan Mitchell, in which she painted some of her most celebrated and best-loved paintings. Rich, verdant greens collide with vibrant yellow-ochre while lively strokes of violet, pale pink and a single stroke of cobalt blue are knitted together within a wondrous mosaic, evocative of Mitchell’s summers in France, the heady scents of Provence lingering like sweet perfume. The large-scale, commanding presence of this great painting, along with its sweeping, lyrical strokes and shimmering coloration belies the complicated and meticulous construction of its internal organization.

Note to the Editors:

Damon Mezzacappa’s career in finance began in Boston, where he joined the firm F.S. Smithers & Co. An astute and animated business mind, Mezzacappa soon became an executive at Morgan Stanley in New York, where he was recognized as one of the industry’s most auspicious talents. In 1980, Michel David-Weill, chairman of the storied Franco-American firm Lazard Frères, recruited Mezzacappa to join the company. After his retirement from the company in 1999, he went on to establish Mezzacappa Management, a private firm specializing in hedge fund investment. Damon Mezzacappa was a supporter of, among other organizations, the Weill Cornell Medical Center, the Central Park Conservancy, and Long Island’s Peconic Land Trust. His most prominent bequests were two panels by Giorgio Vasari to the National Gallery of Art, in honor of Elizabeth Mezzacappa; a magnificent Greek bronze centaur to the Princeton University Art Museum; an ancient terracotta urn to the Brooklyn Museum of Art; and important Old Master paintings to the Norton Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Christie’s holds the top 12 prices for works by Lucian Freud including the world auction record for a work by the artist at $56 million with Benefits Supervisor Resting, 1994 (Christie's New York: May 13, 2015).

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