Masterpieces from the Schwartz Collection are to be auctioned across Christie’s sales this summer, with highlights including works by Childe Hassam, Frederic Remington and William M. Chase — offered in American Art in New York on 23 May
As a longstanding public advocate for the arts and education, Richard J. Schwartz helped to transform New York City with his philanthropy. Having chaired the New York State Council for the Arts for 20 years and served on many museum and performing arts boards, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum and Lincoln Center, he was a leading light in the cultural development of the city.
Dick Schwartz was heavily involved in the restoration of civic monuments, supporting several projects including Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Admiral Farragut in Madison Square Park, the gates and statues of Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, and the Sherman Monument in Grand Army Plaza, Manhattan.
Beyond his feeling for the artistic pulse of New York, Schwartz’s passions included American painting, sculpture and decorative art of the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. He trained his focus on the acquisition of masterpieces, whether on canvas or in wood or bronze.
In his Manhattan home were objects which represented the pinnacle of American Renaissance and turn-of–the-century masters. Among the many highlights are his early cast of Frederic Remington’s most ambitious bronze, Coming Through the Rye; Saint-Gaudens’ celebrated Victory; a famed portrait relief of Robert Louis Stevenson; Albert Bierstadt’s epic Lake Tahoe, and Childe Hassam’s early street scene with flags.
In Schwartz’s country home, modern sculptures, including several by Wilhelm Hunt Diederich and Paul Manship’s Dancer and Gazelles, were displayed alongside modernist paintings by artists such as Milton Avery.
The thematic range of the collection projects Schwartz’s deep sense of patriotism. American expansionism, exploration of the uncharted and the romance of the West are represented by Lake Tahoe and Coming Through the Rye, while the Hassam masterpiece and the avant-garde brushstrokes of William M. Chase, who broke the European mould of portraiture with works such as Portrait of My Sister (Hattie), below, reflect his national pride.
To tour the collection with Richard J. Schwartz was to invite debate on the merits and virtues of everything that he owned and how it connected with American thought and culture. Few collectors have embraced American art so broadly and with such passion.