Property from the Marion Rumsey Cartier Collection at Saint Louis University
Marion Rumsey Cartier was born in New York on 14 April 1911; her father, Pierre Cartier was one of the three legendary Cartier brothers that created arguably the most important jewelry house ever to exist. Her mother, Elma Rumsey, was the daughter of Moses Rumsey, a wealthy industrialist from Saint Louis.
Madame Cartier grew up on both sides of the Atlantic, her homes were Paris and New York, however her Saint Louis heritage was always of tremendous importance. It was this interest that formed her connection with Saint Louis University, initiating a close academic as well as spiritual relationship.
Her legacy to the University included photographs, letters and paintings documenting her fascinating life. The preservation of these documents on both sides of her family are a showcase of social history in the twentieth century and give the observer a glimpse of the life of a wealthy family during a time of enormous change.
The House of Cartier, which has long epitomized luxury and elegance, was founded in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier. However, it was his three sons, Louis, Jacques and Pierre that established Cartier as an extraordinary jewelry empire. Louis was the creative genius, while Jacques made connections throughout Asia that provided not only a wealth of important gemstones but also served as an inspiration for future designs. Pierre Cartier was appointed head of the American operations, considered a crucial market at this time. His shrewd business skills combined with his talent for marketing and public relations made him key to the firm's success. Twice, in 1921 and 1929, he was the recipient of the French Legion of Honor having been recognized for his effort to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between the United States and France.
The style and elegance of Cartier jewels during this era are undisputed and the 19.01 carat diamond ring, lot 426, personifies the level of beauty they achieved. While the quality of the diamond and the workmanship are superb, it was this ring in particular that Pierre gave Elma Rumsey upon their engagement.
Elma was the second of four daughters and her father, Moses Rumsey, established the L. M. Rumsey Manufacturing Company. A major manufacturer of railroad and foundry supplies, their products were sold across the United States and Mexico. As cousins to the Pierpont Morgan family, the Rumseys had business and social relations that were amongst the most important in the Mid-West.
The Cartiers were an integral part of society life in New York and spent a large part of their winter in Florida. Dinners, golf and country visits provided Pierre with invaluable access to the highest level of clientele in the country. The 1929 presentation of the French Legion of Honor was organized by Paul Claudel, then French Ambassador to the United States. The relations between the Cartier and Claudel families were social as well professional and due in large part to the strong friendship between the two respective daughters, Marion and Reine.
A consequence of this friendship was the courtship between Marion Cartier and Pierre Claudel that eventually led to their engagement in 1932. The wedding was held in New York in April of 1933 and was considered one of the highlights of the social calendar, with a guest list that included Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Doris Duke. Claudel, who had become a recognized poet and playwright, explored the possibility of a diplomatic career after his father but finally joined the House of Cartier, becoming it's leader after the death of Louis Cartier. The year 1932 was momentous for Madame Cartier for yet another reason, as it was her conversion to Catholicism and the start of her spiritual journey that was to remain a constant throughout her life.
With her religious beliefs as well as the strong family ties in Saint Louis, Madame Cartier was introduced to Father J. Barry McGannon, S.J., then vice president for development and later Chancellor of Saint Louis University. As a result of this relationship, Madame Cartier found a sanctuary where her memories and extraordinary life could be preserved. Her remarkable collection of manuscripts is maintained at the University and the proceeds of this sale will in part act as an endowment for their preservation as well as other valuable projects. Marion Cartier died quietly on March 20 1994 in Geneva at the age of 83.
Saint Louis University traces it's origins to 1818 when Louis William DuBourg opened Saint Louis Academy near the present site of the gateway Arch on the Saint Louis waterfront. The University fostered higher education between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean. It was the first to have a graduate school in this vast region and the first to create schools of philosophy, divinity, medicine, law and business. Today, Saint Louis University educates more than 11,000 students offering a broad array of undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs on campuses in St. Louis, Missouri, and Madrid, Spain. It was the first Catholic University in the nation to have any of these constituent schools and specialized faculties.
PROPERTY FROM THE MARION RUMSEY CARTIER COLLECTION AT SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY