Dozens of legacy works of art from one of America’s most prominent families are now available exclusively through Sotheby’s Home. Art collector, philanthropist and politician Nelson Rockefeller passionately commissioned exceptional works from artists of several generations. A globalist who explored the art of diverse times and places, Rockefeller spent his life studying and acquiring 18th-century porcelain, avant-garde Parisian art, works by New York’s Abstract Expressionists, folk art from North America and Central America, sculpture by African and Southeast Asia artisans as well as rare Japanese prints and ceramics.
This former vice-president of the United States and president of New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) confidently navigated between the worlds of art and politics alongside his wife of 16 years, Happy Rockefeller. Together, they cherished and preserved the fine art and special objects that filled their homes and colored their lives.
Nelson Rockefeller’s insatiable appetite for art continued until his death in 1979. Many of the great masterpieces he acquired were donated to museums, but Happy held onto important pieces throughout her life, along with decorative arts objects and significant pieces of jewelry. Happy Rockefeller continued to make an indelible mark on society and the arts until her passing in 2015.
Read more: “From MoMA to Washington: How Nelson Rockefeller Redefined the Role of the Art Patron & Politician for the 20th Century,” via Sotheby’s
In 2019, an important collection of Rockefeller heirlooms was featured in a two-part Sotheby’s sale that vibrantly showcased the couple’s eclectic spirit and provided an intimate glimpse into how they lived with their timeless treasures. The New York auction highlighted a remarkable array of modern and contemporary art, Meissen porcelain, Chinese export ceramics, fine silver, Americana objects, Japanese works of art, books and manuscripts, as well as paintings, drawings and sculpture by iconic artists such as Edgar Degas, Henry Moore, Georg Kolbe and Pablo Picasso.
Now Sotheby’s Home is delighted to present a curated assortment of decorative accessories from the collection of Nelson and Happy Rockefeller. This exclusive offering inspires an appreciation for the couple’s stewardship of culturally and historically significant objects, and provides an opportunity to add a rare work with impeccable provenance to your own home.
Beautifully proportioned, this fine porcelain urn from the Rockefeller collection would serve as a dramatic dining room table centerpiece or the focal point of a fireplace mantel, sideboard or bookshelf. The original hand-painted hawk emblem is specific to the ancient Le Mesurier family crest.
This fetching trio of detailed prints will complement any home that welcomes fine Americana artwork. The collection includes The City of Philadelphia (circa 1805), drawn by Thomas Birch and engraved by Samuel Seymour; High Street, Philadelphia, with an American Stage Waggon (circa 1807), published by James Cundee and Albion Press, London; and The Presidents House, from the River, a 19th-century, hand-colored intaglio engraved by W. Radclyffe after W.H. Bartlett.
Traditionally used in a Kaiseki Japanese meal and tea ceremony, these stunning bowls will enhance any dining room or living room table, sideboard or china cabinet. The set is hand-painted and decorated with grasses in caramel brown against a crackled cream glaze.
This pair of Chinese Kesi cushion cover panel fragments is beautifully decorated with flora and fauna, set within triple brocade borders and perfectly showcased in gilded frames. Rare antique textiles are often used by interior designers to decorate a living room, dining room or master bedroom.
This Expressionist oil on canvas by Italian artist Bruno Saetti, once enjoyed by the Rockefeller family, will be a fine addition to any art collection. Its bold color blocks and graphic brush strokes make it a standout addition to traditional or modern interiors.
Presented as a set of three Ukiyo-e or “floating world” woodblock prints, these centuries-old works portray the pleasures of the city. Traditionally, the long, narrow prints were pasted upon household pillars. Created by Japanese artist Isoda Koryusai, and signed Koryu-ga, each is encased in a gilt and black frame.
Shop the full collection of Nelson and Happy Rockefeller, exclusively on Sotheby’s Home.