Sotheby's is privileged to offer drawings, furniture and decorations from the private residences of museum director and art collector Charles Ryskamp, as a highlight of Old Masters Week in New York. Mr. Ryskamp served as Director of The Pierpont Morgan Library, now The Morgan Library & Museum, and the Frick Collection for a combined total of nearly 30 years, helping to make both institutions among the most prestigious museums in New York City. He began buying drawings at auction at age 13, and his collection has since been the subject of exhibitions at The Morgan Library & Museum and the Yale Center for British Art. Works from the sale are being sold for the primary benefit of Princeton University, where Mr. Ryskamp began his academic career.
Charles Ryskamp had an extraordinary impact on both the arts and society in New York City. He began teaching 18th-century British literature at Princeton in 1955, and simultaneously served as curator of English and American literature at the university's library. These skills proved valuable when Mr. Ryskamp was appointed Director of The Pierpont Morgan Library in 1969. There, he oversaw several major donations and acquisitions that have helped make the Library one of New York's most distinguished museums. Mr. Ryskamp was appointed Director of the Frick Collection in 1987, notably heading the institution's first capital campaign that saved it from a potential closing. Charles Ryskamp began collecting early, and quickly became enamored with drawings. A true intellectual, he educated himself in the print rooms of his favorite museums, with curators who would become his close friends. In his essay "Why I Collect," Mr. Ryskamp notes: "As much as possible I have devoted my life to the appreciation, study, and teaching of art and literature; to those pursuits I must add, and with equal conviction, collecting Collecting became a way of extending my knowledge. I bought works by uncommon artists and also uncommon works by celebrated draftsmen." Charles Ryksamp's personal collections have been the subject of celebrated exhibitions: The Morgan Library & Museum exhibited "The World Observed: Five Centuries of Drawings from the Collection of Charles Ryskamp" in 2001, and the Yale Center for British Art presented "Varieties of Romantic Experience: Drawings from the Collection of Charles Ryskamp" in February 2010, a month before his death.
Sotheby's New York sale of Property from the Collection of Charles Ryskamp features drawings from the 16th through mid-20th centuries that demonstrate his eye for both quality and aesthetic appeal. The works include a significant collection of English drawings, an extension of his expertise in British literature. The auction also includes furniture and decorations from Mr. Ryskamp's private residences in both New York City and Princeton, New Jersey.