Christie’s Will Offer 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 yield some serious fireworks, with major collections coming on the block—Christie’s is already looking forward to the fall. This morning, the auction house announced it will offer the storied and vast collection of San Francisco connoisseurs and philanthropists Ann and Gordon Getty.

The proceeds, expected to be as much as $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 and California native.

The sale will feature around 1,500 objects from their homes in California, including English and European furniture, Asian works of art, European ceramics, Chinese export porcelain, silver, European and Asian textiles, and Impressionist and Old Master paintings.

Of the collections that the couple lived with, Christie’s says they evoke the golden age of England’s great houses, the fabled Grand Tour and the exotic tastes of the European courts.

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

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

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

And Mary Cassatt’s elegant Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right  (circa 1878-79) formerly occupied pride of place on top of a lacquer bookcase in Ann Getty’s bedroom. The work’s first owner was painter Paul Gauguin. It’s currently estimated in the region of $3 million.  The work appears to be the same one that sold at Sotheby’s in 1992 for $2.5 million, far above the $1.5 million high estimate, at one of the former peaks of the Impressionist and Modern art market in the early 1990s, according to the Artnet Price Database.

Mary Cassatt, Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right (circa 1878). Image courtesy Christie's.

Mary Cassatt, Young Lady in a Loge Gazing to Right (circa 1878). Image courtesy Christie’s.

And a vibrant floral still-life by Henri Matisse, Chrysanthèmes dans un vase de Chine (1902),  which formerly hung in the staircase of the Getty’s San Francisco home, has an estimate in the region of $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 Canton Province in China (Chinese School, 1739) , is estimated at $100,000. The rendering of the Pearl River Delta is a very early record of the major port of Guangzhou, which became southern China’s international trading center with the English and the Portuguese, Christie’s notes. This map was instigated by imperial decree, and was used in an administrative capacity by the new Qianlong Emperor. No other impression is recorded, the auction house notes. 

The map has been widely exhibited, including at the British Library in 1974. “Hung in the library corridor of their San Francisco residence, it hinted at Mr. and Mrs. Getty’s deep interest in and love of travel,” according to a statement from Christie’s.

Henri Matisse, Chrysanthèmes dans un vase de Chine (1902). Image courtesy Christie's.

Henri Matisse, Chrysanthèmes dans un vase de Chine (1902). Image courtesy 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.”

Map Of Canton Province. Chinese School, 1739. Image courtesy Christie's.

Map Of Canton Province.
Chinese School, 1739. Image courtesy Christie’s.

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

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