Auctions | March 11, 2019

Christie's to Offer the Collection of Drue Heinz

New York - Christie’s is honored to present The Collection of Drue Heinz, which encompasses a remarkable selection of fine art that will be offered throughout Christie’s New York Impressionist and Modern Evening and Day Sales in May. The collection of Drue Heinz is a reflection of her keen observation and innate eye. Heinz was married to H.J. (Jack) Heinz II - CEO of the H. J. Heinz Company - from 1953 until his death in 1987, and she made most of her acquisitions over the course of their three decades of marriage. Throughout her life, Heinz enjoyed nothing more than taking on new endeavors that advanced the work of emerging artists of all kinds. Her spirit is very much reflected within her collection, and as such, proceeds from its sale will go to support her beloved Hawthornden Literary Retreat among other charitable projects. From these and other benefactions one takes away the overall impression of an energetic collaborator who took a personal interest in undertakings that she felt were important to nourishing the human spirit. Works from the collection will also be offered across the Spring Sales of Post-War and Contemporary and Latin American Art. Further, A striking range of decorative arts will be sold in a dedicated sale taking place in London on June 4.

Jessica Fertig, Head of Evening Sale, Impressionist and Modern Art, New York, remarked: “The collection of fine art that Mrs. Heinz assembled includes the most important artists of the early modern period —Picasso, Modigliani, Giacometti, Monet, Magritte and Matisse. From Bonnard’s Une terrasse à Grasse, one of the finest and most sumptuous examples of the artist’s terrace series, or in the suspended drama of Picasso’s Course de taureaux, through to the intimate dimensions of Cézanne’s pencil study of five bathers, related to the celebrated Basel painting of the same subject, or the quietude of an exquisite Morandi still-life. In every case, the art reflects careful, informed selection. And it was displayed in the Heinz homes so that at every turn the eye would fall on something thought-provoking and beautiful.

Over the years, Drue Heinz became a great advocate for literature and writers. She also assumed the role of a thoughtful supporter and board member at a number of prestigious art museums: the Carnegie in Pittsburgh, the Royal Academy in London and the Metropolitan Museum in New York. She was known for asking difficult questions, and seizing the opportunity if a project needed funding, as well as being mindful that room should be left for other ardent supporters to contribute.

Mrs. Heinz founded Ecco Press in 1971 and served as publisher of the Paris Review from 1993 to 2008. She was responsible for funding the Monday Night Lectures in Pittsburgh, which continue to draw America’s top literary writers to the lectern and she provided sustained sponsorship of the Lincoln Center Review, which illuminated the vital function of the theatrical canon to the modern world.  The Drue Heinz Literature Prize, endowed in 1981 in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Press, enables the publication of short fiction and serves as an enormous source of encouragement for writers to continue their work.  It is an esteemed annual award for those who submit a collection of short stories.  The prize is monetary but the exposure of having the writer’s first collection published is invaluable.

Highlights from the Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art to include: Leading the collection is Amedeo Modigliani’s Lunia Czechowska (à la robe noire), 1919 (estimate: $12-18 million)- pictured on page 1, right. Modigliani was infatuated with his subject, a young Polish émigré, who was married to a close friend of the artist’s dealer, Léopold Zborowski, and would ultimately go on to paint her likeness in ten known paintings. Czechowska was 25 when she sat for the present portrait, a canvas that Joseph Lanthemann praised for being “plein de noblesse, de beauté et de communion”. Czechowska’s fine, delicate features bespeak a discerning intelligence and a rare sensitivity, which perfectly suited the artist’s fascination with this type. Her serious demeanor and youthfully lithe, feminine figure lent themselves well to the primary influences the artist liked to incorporate and show off in his portraits—the elongated forms of the 16th century Italian Mannerists Parmigianino and Pontormo, filtered through his modernist attraction to aspects of African tribal art. 

Pierre Bonnard’s La Terrasse ou Une terrasse à Grasse, 1912 (estimate: $6-9 million) is a pageant of high-keyed color and luxuriant, Mediterranean vegetation. This idyllic scene — one of Bonnard’s earliest tours de force on the theme of the terrace — depicts the grounds of the Villa Antoinette at Grasse, some twelve miles north of Cannes, where the artist and his future wife Marthe stayed on holiday from January to May 1912. La Terrasse is one of the two largest canvases that Bonnard painted during his exceptionally productive stay at Grasse, both major decorative statements visualizing the Côte d’Azur as a modern-day Arcadia. In La Terrasse, Bonnard creates a private, enclosed world that evokes the sultry heat and languorous reverie of a Mediterranean afternoon. Marthe is now subordinate to the colorful profusion of vegetation, her motionless figure registering to the viewer within the composition only after a slight, almost imperceptible delay; her sun-dappled blue jacket and brown cloche hat seem to merge, wraithlike, with the surrounding ground of the terrace. “This dreaming feminine presence, Marthe,” Sasha Newman has written, “who so often appears in cutoff views—glimpsed on a balcony, through a door, or reflected in a mirror—is central to the underlying air of mystery in much of Bonnard’s art.” 

Henri Matisse painted Nu à la fenêtre (estimate: $7-10 million) - also known as Nu nacré (Pearly Nude) for the iridescent quality of its light—in his new studio during the first part of 1929 and sold the canvas to Bernheim-Jeune that September. The painting was reproduced shortly thereafter in two important monographs, one by Florent Fels and the other by Roger Fry, which paid tribute to the artist on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday in December 1929; it was first exhibited publicly at the Kraushaar Galleries in New York the following fall. The focal point of this luminous,canvas is the nude model, the subject par excellence of Matisse’s exemplary Nice period. “The Odalisques were the bounty of a happy nostalgia, a lovely vivid dream, and the almost ecstatic, enchanted days and nights of the Moroccan climate,” the artist recounted. “I felt an irresistible need to express that ecstasy, that divine unconcern, in corresponding colored rhythms, rhythms of sunny and lavish figures and colors”. Here, Matisse depicted a sultry brunette named Loulou, one of several ballet dancers from the Compagnie de Paris who populated the artist’s private pictorial theater in 1928-1929. The paintings that Matisse created in early 1929 represent the culmination of his work at Nice during this transformative period. 

Pablo Picasso, a lifelong aficionado of the heroism and pathos of the bullfight, executed Course de taureaux in 1900 (estimate: $4-6 million), capturing the brief, electrifying moment immediately before the bull charges into the corrida, its every nerve-ending fired with the anticipation of combat. Picasso rendered this scene, laying down pastel in vivid hues and with a material density that conjures the physicality of the impending encounter, in mid-1900, the artist was just eighteen years old, ablaze with youthful
ambition and preparing for his own dramatic entry into a new arena. The previous year, he had returned home to Barcelona after a brief stint at the prestigious but stiflingly traditional Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid; now, ever more forceful and independent, he was just months away from his first trip to Paris, determined to prove his worth in the very center of the art world. 

The dedicated London sale of Decorative Arts on June 4: 

The contents of Mrs. Heinz’s London mews house and Manhattan townhouse will be offered in London on June 4. The London mews was purchased by Mr. & Mrs. Heinz in the late 1950s and is particularly special as it has at its core one of the most charming and untouched John Fowler interiors remaining, with a second phase of development and decoration in the 1980s by Renzo Mongiardino. He masterfully integrated a neighbouring mews property, formerly car showroom, into the home creating a theatrical ballroom, the walls of which are completely painted with vistas inspired by the Villa Falconieri in Rome. The top lot of the sale is from the London property, a massive George II giltwood pier mirror, circa 1750, in the manner of Vardy (estimate: £150,000 - 250,000), and further highlights from London include Swimming Pool by David Hockney, O.M., C.H., R.A., signed, dedicated and dated 'For Drue and Jack with love from David H. Feb/1982' (estimate: £70,000-100,000). 

The New York townhouse was an earlier Mongiardino creation dating to 1976 and was published anonymously in Architectural Digest shortly after its completion. Notable lots from New York include a Regency specimen marble bronzed and parcel-gilt centre table circa 1810 (estimate: £15,000-25,000); a pair of Chinese Export black and gilt-lacquer wardrobes the lacquer panels early 19th century and adapted from a screen (estimate: £6,000-10,000); a Victorian oak letter box, late 19th century, by W. Thornhill (estimate: £2,500-4,000); the two latter lots both depicted in the in-situ interior shot, left). The collection sale as a whole comprises Impressionist & Modern, Modern British and Contemporary works of art alongside Old Master Paintings, English and Continental furniture and objet d’art, silver, Chinese porcelain and decorative furnishings many of which were supplied either by Colefax & Fowler or Mongiardino.