Comprising around 300 works from Mexico, Central & South America, this extraordinary ensemble of Pre-Columbian art from The Barbier-Mueller Collection has been widely exhibited and published. Among its many masterpieces are a Chupicuaro Ceramic Statue (500-100 BC) and a Tarascan Ceramic Bird shaped Vase (1200-1500 AC) both formerly in the Guy Joussemet Collection, a Maya Ceramic Head (500-900 AC) formerly in the John Huston Collection, an Aztec Stone Figure of a Water Goddess (1300-1500) acquired by Josef Mueller in 1920, and a Maya Figure, Jaina, Mexico (AD 550-950).
One of the strengths of the Barbier-Mueller Collection lies in its cross-cultural approach: the choices of objects across the historical cultures represented (from 1200 BC to 1500 AC) reflect a remarkable coherence of vision on the part of the collector as well as showing the variety of media in which Pre-Columbian artists worked. The Collection comprises works in wood and stone, ceramics, textiles, ritual objects, as well as being representative of all the leading Pre-Columbian cultures. Not only are iconic pieces to be found in each area, but many possess historic provenance and are in an exceptional state of preservation.
In 1908 and 1909 Josef Mueller acquired major works by Hodler and Cézanne in Paris. While initially focusing on Western masterpieces of universal appeal, he soon became attracted by important works of Pre-Columbian art, his first purchase being an Aztec ‘water goddess’ in Paris in 1920. His son-in-law Jean Paul Barbier-Mueller, a great aesthete and man of culture, brought this high standard of collecting to other fields, such as African Art, Oceanic Art and Cycladic Art. His dedicated focus has resulted in the well-deserved reputation for excellence that the collections have today. Mr. Barbier-Mueller and his wife Monique Barbier-Mueller (Josef Mueller’s daughter), who has pursued modern and contemporary art, have achieved one of the foremost collections of art in private hands, one defined by their sophisticated knowledge and refined eye.
Along with their role as custodians of this magnificent, century-old collection, they are renowned for their commitment to furthering recognition of non-Western art and culture and for the remarkable exhibitions and publications they have overseen.
For the occasion of the Barbier-Mueller collection’s sale, Sotheby’s and 5 Continent have co-published two volumes that put together for the first time the more than three hundred works. These volumes (bilingual English/French) are beautifully illustrated and feature commentary by leading international experts.
Vol. 1 : Mesoamerica
Vol. 2 : Central America and South America
Sotheby’s Paris sale of Pre-Colombian Art from the Barbier-Mueller Collection achieved €10,296,300 ($13,330,002), a world record for a sale of Pre-Columbian Art at auction.
Guillaume Cerutti, President-Directeur General, Sotheby’s France, said: “With a final total of more than €10 million, this sale established a new world record for a sale of Pre-Columbian Art. Despite having achieved less than expected, these results are good considering the context in which the sale unfolded. High prices were achieved for the many iconic pieces which reflect the extraordinary quality of the collection."