This lot is exempt from Sales Tax.
Property from the Estate of Caroline Wiess Law
sold to benefit The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston*
*Lots 234-254 may be exempt from sales tax, as set forth in the sales tax notice at the back of the catalogue.
Caroline Wiess Law led a life of remarkable patronage, with an unwavering dedication to 20th-century art. Therefore, it was not surprising to learn that, upon her death, Christmas Eve, 2003, her 85th birthday, she would be the one presenting gifts.
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston received an endowment bequest from Mrs. Law estate of over $25m in major works by great artists such as Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, Joan Miro, Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Robert Motherwell to name a few. In 1998, the museum honored her forty-year commitment as a passionate and dedicated supporter by renaming the main building in her honor. The Rothko Chapel and the Menil Collection were also recipients of Mr. And Mrs. Law's philanthropic generosity. Beyond the world of art, she left $25m each to the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Born in Beaumont, Texas in 1918, Mrs. Law was one of three daughters of Olga Keith and Harry C. Wiess. Her father was one of the founders of Humble Oil and Refining Company, now Exxon Mobil. She married William Francis in 1946, a partner at the law firm of Vinson, Elkins, Weems and Francis, who also served as assistant secretary of defense under Dwight D. Eisenhower. After Mr. Francis' death in 1958, she married Theodore N. Law, the founder of Falcon Seaboard Drilling Company and Mid-Continent Airlines, which later merged with Braniff Airways in 1952.
Mrs. Law's admiration of daring brushstrokes and bold colors in works of art is echoed in her collection of superb jewels and gemstones. The distinctive palette and strong hues, the fine detail and the mark of important 20th-century jewelry firms, such as Harry Winston, Julius Cohen and Seaman Schepps, epitomize this collection.
As a tribute to her legacy, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston exhibited 42 of the works from Mrs. Law's collection, in a show entitled 'A Spirited Vision'. This vision will long remain a testament of her commitment to culture, beauty and tireless philanthropy.