T he Wildenstein art firm was founded in Paris shortly after the end of the Franco-Prussian War by Nathan Wildenstein (1851-1934), a garment maker from Alsace endowed with an innate love and appreciation for the fine and decorative arts and a wonderful “eye”. The business he created has occupied a prestigious position among European and American art dealerships for a century and a half. Nathan and four generations of his descendants have dealt in works of many national schools and historical periods and movements—from the early Italian and French Renaissance, to the modernist schools of the first half of the XXth century. Since its founding, one of the gallery’s strong suits in its locations in Paris, New York, London, and Tokyo has been French art chronologically encompassing much of the Ancien Régime, the Revolutionary period and the First Napoleonic Empire. By any standards, it is fair to say that no other international art gallery can claim to have placed in public and private collections around the globe as many pieces of French art in all of its variety (religious and secular history, portraiture, landscapes, genre scenes and still lifes) and with such a depth of focus as Wildenstein.
At one time or another in its history, Wildenstein has counted among its international clientele such prestigious art patrons and philanthropists as Giovanni Agnelli, Benjamin Altman, Jules Bache, Dr. Albert Barnes, Sir Chester Beatty, the Berwinds, the Camondos, Francisco de Assis Chateaubriand, Walter Chrysler, the Clark brothers, Sir Samuel Courtauld, Henry Ford, J. Paul Getty, Calouste Gulbenkian, the Havemeyers, John G. Johnson, Samuel Kress, Robert Lehman, the Mellons, Edward G. Robinson, Henry and Helen Clay Frick, Sterling and Francine Clark, Henry P. McIlhenny, the Morgans, Duncan Phillips, the Rockefellers, various members of the Rothschild dynasty, Norton Simon, Grenville Winthrop and Charles and Jayne Wrightsman.
Among the numerous stellar examples of Old Master French art sold by the company at one time or another the following works now housed in public institutions stand out: Georges de La Tour, The Fortune Teller, c. 1632-35, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York — the Brothers Le Nain, Landscape with Peasants, c. 1640, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C —Charles Le Brun, The Martyrdom of St. Andrew, 1651, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles — Jean Antoine Watteau, Mezzetin, c. 1718-20, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Jean-Baptiste Oudry, Portrait of the Chevalier de Beringhen, 1726, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. — Jean François de Troy, Before the Ball, 1735, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles — Jean Siméon Chardin, Soap Bubbles, c. 1731, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York—Nicolas Lancret, The Picnic after the Hunt, c. 1740, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. —Anne Vallayer-Coster, Still Life with Sea Shells, 1769, Musée du Louvre— Jean Honoré Fragonard, The Adoration of the Shepherds, 1776, Musée du Louvre, Paris — Adélaïde Labille Guiard, Portrait of the Artist and Her Pupils, 1785 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York — Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Bacchante, 1785, Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris; Portrait of Madame d’Aguesseau de Fresnes, 1789, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and Portrait of Princess Yusupova, née Tatiana Vassilievna von Engelhardt, 1797, Fuji Museum, Tokyo — Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, The Mass of Pope Pius VII, 1814, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Portrait of the Comtesse Othenin d’Haussonville, née Louise de Broglie, 1845, The Frick Collection, New York; and Portrait of the Princesse Albert de Broglie, née Pauline de Galard de Brassac de Béarn, 1853, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Wildenstein & Co., New York