Unmatched in refinement and sophistication – the most significant American collection to come to auction this spring.
Christie’s recently presented The Collection of Anne H. Bass featuring a selection of 12 magnificent artworks by leading 19th and 20th-century artists including Degas, Monet, and Rothko. The most important American collection to arrive on the market this season comes to Christie’s directly from the interior of Mrs. Bass’s impeccably designed New York City home.
These 12 works form a singularly compelling narrative that speaks to both the power of connoisseurship and the enduring relevance and radicality that characterize the greatest works of art. Presented as a dedicated single-owner evening sale, The Collection of Anne H. Bass will take place during Christie’s Marquee Week of 20th and 21st Century Art sales at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. The collection is expected to exceed $250 million.
In Mrs. Bass’s landmark New York City home on Fifth Avenue, she assembled a collection of masterpieces that were profoundly rigorous yet deeply personal, shaped by her remarkably informed eye and female perspective in a world dominated by male collectors.
Guided by extensive knowledge and insight, Mrs. Bass acquired works and presented them in her home in a manner that established provocative dialogues across artistic periods – a poetic call and response spanning two centuries.
Upon entering Mrs. Bass’s apartment, a visitor immediately understood the exceptional nature of her endeavor, discovering in the entry area a juxtaposition of two milestone works of art: Edgar Degas’ bronze sculpture Petite danseuse de quatorze ans (estimate: $20 million – 30 million) and Balthus’s Jeune fille à la fenêtre (estimate: $4 million – 6 million).
Both of these works depict young women, declaring the space they occupy to be unequivocally female and challenging the visitor to reflect upon women’s power in all of its manifestations. Additionally, Degas’ ballet dancer, with her delicate sculptural skirt, telegraphed Mrs. Bass’s passionate dedication to dance, in particular the ballet.
Another hallmark of Mrs. Bass’s collection is its rare pairings of multiple works by a single artist, an approach to collecting that invites fresh insights. For example, two vibrant, monumental paintings by Mark Rothko, Untitled (Shades of Red) (estimate: $60 million – 80 million) and No. 1 (estimate: $45 million – 65 million), exerted the authoritative presence of sentinels in the collector’s living room.
These masterworks were beautifully paired with Monet’s Le Parlement, soleil couchant (estimate: $40 million – 60 million), in the room beyond, enabling two undisputed masters of the 19th and 20th century to speak to one another.
In the Bass dining room, the cool blue and violet hues of three Monet paintings, Nymphéas (estimate: $35 million – 55 million), Peupliers au bord de l’Epte, automne (estimate: $30 million – 50 million), as well as Le Parlement, soleil couchant, echo the sublime immersive experience of the l’Orangerie in Paris.
Among the finest examples of Monet’s oeuvre, this trio of canvases bears witness to the collector’s famous talent for creating narrative opportunities among multiple masterpieces.
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Anne Hendricks Bass was a leading philanthropist, a generous patron of the arts, and an aesthete in the truest sense. Known for her taste and refinement, Mrs. Bass was known for her expert eye and unparalleled connoisseurship. Thematically, femininity is strongly represented throughout her collection as well as her other cultural pursuits.
Her interests and expertise were expansive; she was a wellspring of knowledge, and in addition to fine art was a lifelong advocate for architecture, design, landscape and gardening, and, above all, dance. She collaborated closely with such illustrious designers and artists as Paul Rudolph, Russell Page, and her lifetime friend Mark Hampton, maintaining a reputation as a tireless champion of beauty and creativity in all its forms throughout her life.
She was a dedicated student and aficionado of ballet, and as recently as 2010 directed Dancing Across Borders, a documentary film chronicling a young Cambodian dancer in his quest for greatness. Mrs. Bass was a generous patron of the arts in all their forms and served as a board member and advisor to several institutions around the world.
Max Carter, Christie’s Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, remarks, “The Anne Bass Collection represents and bridges the best of the 19th and 20th centuries, of form and abstraction, of style and thought.
Everywhere in her apartment there were exquisitely calibrated affinities and dialogues, between the enigmatic windows of Balthus and Hammershøi; between the dancers of Degas in pastel and bronze; between the flowering of Impressionism and the New York School; between Monet and Rothko. When showing his great Seagram murals, Rothko said ‘They are not pictures, I have made a place.’ Mrs. Bass’s Collection was simply that: A total work of art.”
Bonnie Brennan, President, Christie’s Americas, remarks, “The Collection of Anne Bass represents everything that today’s buyers are seeking: masterpiece quality, rarity, incredible freshness to the market, and most of all, a reflection of a sophisticated collector who knew perfection when she saw it. I am particularly honored to celebrate such a strong female collecting voice with this remarkable collection.”
Alex Rotter, Christie’s Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, remarks, “As a collector, Anne Bass was timeless. Truly passionate about art in all of its forms, she not only appreciated beautiful objects, but she lived with them. These paintings and sculptures were more than just possessions to Mrs. Bass, they were part of her home and her day-to-day life. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to offer it at Christie’s this spring.”
Exhibition And Tour Dates
A selection of leading highlights from the collection will tour globally. They will be on exhibition at Christie’s London April 5 – 8 and Christie’s Hong Kong April 20 – 21 before returning to New York, where the full collection will be presented at Christie’s New York ahead of the Marquee Week sale in May.