Sotheby’s is thrilled to present in its upcoming Impressionist & Modern Art Evening and Day sales the outstanding collection of philanthropist Emile Wolf.
Mr. Wolf’s collection reflects a lifelong commitment to the arts. Although a mainstay of the Old Masters art scene in New York, Mr. Wolf’s collection spanned centuries and genres. He was an impassioned collector, and his Fifth Avenue apartment was filled with paintings and drawings that hung from floor to ceiling in every room. Space void of art was lined with an extensive library of art books that fueled his ardent collecting. Mr. Wolf took great joy in sharing this collection and his ideas with art historians, collectors, dealers and university students.
Born in 1899 in Hungary, Mr. Wolf began his art collection with landscapes painted by local emerging Hungarian artists. Working in the lumber business, he traveled extensively throughout the world and used these opportunities to acquaint himself to art of different genres and time periods. He came to
America in 1938, and soon he and his family settled in New York City, where he lived until 1996.
The eight works offered in the upcoming sales have remained within the Wolf family collection for decades, a critical passing of ownership that attests to the family’s appreciation of the works. The Wolf collection included masterworks from every influential and groundbreaking Impressionist and modern artist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, ranging from an outstanding grouping of works on paper by Picasso, Pissarro, and Cezanne to a Renoir oil emblematic of the artist’s unique technical execution.
Mr. Wolf had a keen eye for selecting works at pivotal points of these artists’ careers. Van Gogh’s Laundress, executed in 1882, dates from the important formative period of Van Gogh’s career when he began to develop many of the key themes that would occupy him throughout his life. Picasso’s Seminaristes is similarly from a turning point in the artist’s career: executed when Picasso was only 18 years old, the work illustrates his new approach to form and color, whereby he abandoned the academic technique of modelling in favor of bolder lines. The glorious Pechstein Stilleben too is an excellent
example of the artist’s mature expressionist style and an important record of his interest in the art of Oceania and Africa.
Mr. Wolf’s passion and generosity led him to be a major patron to museums, including the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, National Gallery of Art, Metropolitan Museum, and Chrysler Museum, as well as donating many works to a number of universities. Proud to have become an American, he donated a Rubens drawing of the Capitoline Eagle to the National Gallery of Art on the occasion of America’s Bicentennial.