Christie’s recently announced the auction of a collection of fine and decorative art from the entrepreneur, collector, and philanthropist Sydell Miller across two marquee weeks in New York. A selection of 20 works of art will highlight Christie’s New York 20th and 21st Century Week from May 11-14, and a dedicated auction on June 10 entitled La Rêverie: The Collection of Sydell Miller will feature masterworks of 18th Century French furniture and Design. The Palm Beach oceanfront house called La Rêverie was a true achievement in collecting – a vision of art and design that was the result of Mrs Miller’s avant-garde eye and connoisseurship, complemented by the renowned talent of interior designer Peter Marino. The collection in total is estimated to exceed $30 million.
Jonathan Rendell, Deputy Chairman and Head of Sale Curation, comments: “There was a sumptuous quality to the installation of La Rêverie, the Palm Beach home of Sydell Miller and her family. The harmony of the interiors bore tribute to the eye of the collector and the skill of the craftsmen assembled to provide the setting for her collection. The final interiors expressed both sophistication and joy, an atmosphere of harmony, of a happy life, of family. This atmosphere is a rare quality often attempted but rarely achieved. La Rêverie was a realized dream.”
Sydell Miller and her late husband, Arnold Miller, co-founded Matrix Essentials Inc., which became the largest manufacturer of professional hair and beauty products in America. On retiring from the board of her company, Mrs. Miller has devoted much of her time and considerable energy to philanthropy. For Sydell Miller and for her family philanthropy is a way of life. Chief among Mrs. Miller’s extensive philanthropy is the Cleveland Clinic, where the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart, Vascular, and Thoracic Institute houses the heart hospital on the main campus in Ohio.
20TH CENTURY ART EVENING SALE | MAY 11
Further lots to be offered in the Day Sales of 20th and 21st Century Art
Sydell Miller’s passion for promoting individual expression and creativity drew her to the very best in artistic achievement. Every room in La Rêverie told a story, and the artwork represented a museum-quality assemblage of works by the greatest names in Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art. Highlighting the collection and offered in the 20th Century Art Evening sale on May 11 is Joan Miró’s Femme (Femme debout) of 1969 (estimate: $7,000,000-10,000,000). Femme (Femme debout) is one of the landmark series of monumental bronze sculptures that the artist created over the course of the last two decades of his life. This group of predominantly female figures together serves as a powerful visual embodiment of archetypal femininity, their often exaggerated, abstracted or imagined forms offering a symbolic expression of womanhood.
Jean Dubuffet’s Baigneuses, 1950 (estimate: $4,000,000-6,000,000) is a large-scale painting from a group of ten canvases described in the artist’s catalog raisonné as “mind-blowing and visionary”. Painted in 1950, the same period during which he developed his now iconic Corps de Dames series, they are celebrated for their revolutionary approach to the female form. The present work is the largest painting that Dubuffet executed that year, and its contorted angular forms have become emblematic of this important series. Executed just a few short years after the end of World War II, the artist’s extraordinary figures were not only prompted by the brutality of conflict, but also by a consideration of what constitutes beauty in modern society. Building on the legacy of artists like Pablo Picasso, Dubuffet’s works celebrate humanity in all its myriad of aspects, and as such remains as relevant today as it was when this work was created over half a century ago.
Painted in 1989, Rain is an expansive and evocative canvas that encapsulates Joan Mitchell’s strong emotional attachment to the natural world (estimate: $5,000,000-7,000,000). This love of nature was a constant throughout her career, from her early masterpieces such as Hemlock, 1956 (Whitney Museum of American Art), and Ladybug, 1957 (Museum of Modern Art, New York), through to her triumphal Grand Vallée series of paintings from the 1980s. But unlike the long litany of other artists who have painted landscapes, Mitchell’s paintings are not literal depictions; they are instead a physical manifestation of the emotional resonance that the artist felt in connection to a particular place or moment in time. The subject of a major upcoming retrospective organized by the Baltimore Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Mitchell belongs to a select group of artists—including Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne—who continued to grow and achieve great critical and commercial success throughout their careers. Rain is the product of the final phase of Mitchell’s artistic achievements, a work produced at the height of her expressive powers.
LA RÊVERIE: THE COLLECTION OF SYDELL MILLER | JUNE 10
The interior of La Rêverie was designed in collaboration with the talent of Peter Marino and is among his first fully realized commissions. The grand house is an aesthetic delight in every sense; the rhythmic play of architecture and light, the wit of the juxtaposition of art and furniture, the perfection of the finishes, and the calm of the interior contrasting with the pounding Atlantic Ocean.
The collection of decorative arts is a remarkable combination of groundbreaking design from the 18th to the 20th century and beyond, with cutting edge contemporary designs innovatively in dialogue with masterpieces of the ancien régime. The French 18th century furniture at La Rêverie is a dazzling and sophisticated survey of the most innovative and avant-garde neoclassical forms of the 1760s and 1780s. Bold and powerful gilt bronzes are set off against sumptuous and exotic backgrounds of Japanese lacquer and ebony creating a rich palette of black and gold.
Leading the Modernist highlights is a tour de force of Surrealism—François-Xavier Lalanne’s Rare ‘Elephant’ Center Table, 2001, depicts an elephant herd gathering under the branching shelter of an octagonal center table (estimate:$1,000,000-1,500,000).