Thursday, November 29, 10:00 am
PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF CHARLES AND NONIE DE LIMUR, SAN FRANCISCO
Some of my earliest memories growing up in Paris in the 1960s were of holding my father's hand as we walked briskly through the Porte de Clignancourt antiques flea markets on his weekly quest to find just the right thing, carefully researched for its authenticity. My father had a keen eye and a sixth sense of what was collectible and what was not, probably something that he inherited from his grandfather, W.H. Crocker, and his parents, Ethel Mary Crocker and Comte André de Limur. More than a one hundred-year family tradition, collecting is in our blood.
Paintings, books, sculpture, objets d'art, vintage cars, orchids, wine and fine furniture were the underpinnings of how we grew up, creating a rich backdrop filled with names like Monet, Picasso, Vlaminck, Kandinsky, Yeats, Augustus John, Creil, Aubusson, all well loved and lived with in a casual, understated way.
Yet, each of the collections had a clear and pointed focus. If an object caught my father's fancy it was because it was of a specific era, a particular style, artist or designer that he sought; nothing was random. With our parents' impeccable taste, born of their own childhoods surrounded by beauty and culture and developed by a lifetime of world travels, our family's homes were decorated thematically, with the paintings driving the color, texture and feeling of each room. The paintings were often hung salon style, where an unknown artist might be found next to a nineteenth century master. There was an easiness to these collections, where nothing seemed precious or sacred and very few items were highlighted separately. You came across gems like unexpected discoveries. Our parents loved to share this beauty with friends, and entertained extensively, whether in their Palais Royal apartment in Paris during the 1960's, in their San Francisco apartment on the top of Russian Hill, or at their getaway in the Napa Valley, where they bottled their award-winning Chardonnay and tended their gardens and olive grove.
The depths and breadth of these collections, some of them begun by generations past, were remarkable. Our father's collections were multi-faceted and deep. A cornerstone of one of his favorite collections was a barn find, a 1936 Bugatti with a custom Graber body, built for the 1937 Geneva Car Show. It was not enough to have a famous mark with a hand-tooled body, after careful research and communications with the body maker he bought a 1967 British Alvis TF chassis, his second Alvis, and had it shipped to Switzerland for a specially designed Graber body. The two cars rolled off the atelier floor 30 years apart almost to the day.
Every aspect of these collections was catalogued, cross-referenced and categorized. It was an endless labor of love for the pursuit and preservation of impeccable provenance and historical context. It had to be the right wine at dinner, the right 19th Century French plates and Venetian glassware, the right 1930's 78 RPM record spinning on the turn table, the right seed brought back from a distant journey which he would then germinate and cultivate into a giant tree.
Our mother Eleanor, his constant companion of over fifty years, was the safe-keeper of most of these collections after his death in 2004. However, the Zeitgeist of this era is passing, and although those of us who share this unique heritage, myself, my sister Christina and brother Philip, continue the tradition of appreciation and love of art, it is time to part with some of these fabulous items and move them on to new enthusiasts who will cherish and hold them, like this family has for the past many generations.
Charles de Limur