Christie’s to donate Ann and Gordon Getty’s Sterling Collection of Impressionists and Old Masters, raising a potential $180 million

Ahead of the spring auction season in New York, which is expected to bring some serious fireworks, with major collections to come, Christie’s is already looking forward to the fall. This morning the auction house announced that it will offer the vast and rich collection of San Francisco connoisseurs and philanthropists Ann and Gordon Getty.

The proceeds, which are expected to reach $180 million, will benefit their eponymous foundation. Gordon, a classical music composer, is the son of legendary collector and industrialist J. Paul Getty. Ann, who passed away in September 2020, was a well-known interior designer from California.

The sale will feature approximately 1,500 items from their California homes, including English and European furniture, Asian artwork, European ceramics, Chinese export porcelain, silver, European and Asian textiles. and Impressionist and Old Master paintings.

Of the collections the couple have lived with, Christie’s says they evoke the golden age of the great English fashion houses, the legendary Grand Tour and the exotic tastes of European courts.

Ann and Gordon Getty, 1998. Photo by Bruce Forrester. Image courtesy of Christie’s.

Among the highlights is an 18th-century Venetian view painting by the Canaletto master, estimated at around $6 million. The monumental work, titled Entrance to the Grand Canal to the East crystallizes many themes in the collection, not only their love of Venice itself, but in its east-facing view, a reminder of Venice at the end of the Silk Road.

And the elegance of Mary Cassatt Young woman in a dressing room looking to the right (c. 1878-1879) once took pride of place above a lacquer bookcase in Ann Getty’s bedroom. The first owner of the work was the painter Paul Gauguin. It is currently estimated at around $3 million. The work appears to be the same as the one that sold at Sotheby’s in 1992 for $2.5 million, well above the high estimate of $1.5 million, at one of the former highs for the market. impressionist and modern art in the early 1990s, according to the Artnet prices database. .

Mary Cassatt, young woman in a box looking right (circa 1878).  Image courtesy of Christie's.

Marie Cassat, Young woman in a dressing room looking to the right (circa 1878). Image courtesy of Christie’s.

And a vibrant floral still life by Henri Matisse, Chrysanthemums in a vase from China (1902), who formerly hung on the stairs of Getty’s home in San Francisco, has an estimate of around $4 million. A Matisse with the same title and date appears in the Artnet price database that sold at Christie’s in 1995 for $1.3 million.

An eye-catching and unique 18th-century work, a Map of the Province of Canton in China (Chinese School, 1739), is estimated at $100,000. The rendering of the Pearl River Delta is a very old record of the great port of Guangzhou, which became the international trading center of southern China with the English and Portuguese, notes Christie’s. This card was initiated by imperial decree and was used for administrative purposes by the new Qianlong Emperor. No other impressions are recorded, notes the auction house.

The map was widely exhibited, including at the British Library in 1974. “Hanging in the library hallway of their San Francisco residence, it alluded to Mr. and Mrs. Getty,” according to a statement from Christies.

Henri Matisse, Chrysanthemums in a Chinese Vase (1902).  Image courtesy Christie's.

Henri Matisse, Chrysanthemums in a vase from China (1902). Image courtesy of Christie’s.

The Getty collection is “one of America’s legendary treasures,” said Bonnie Brennan, president of Christie’s Americas. “It tells a prolific international story of passion and patronage – the life’s work of an extraordinary American family whose philanthropy has indelibly shaped the arts and culture in the United States.”

Guangzhou Province Map.  Chinese School, 1739. Image courtesy of Christie's.

Guangzhou Province Map.
Chinese School, 1739. Image courtesy of Christie’s.

Christie’s will offer the collection in October and a selection of key pieces will be sent on a world tour this summer, starting in Hong Kong from May 21-26.

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