For Caroline, life was an ever-unfolding and evolving adventure. An avid traveler, she would attend funerals in foreign countries, not due to a proclivity for the macabre, but because of the cultural distillation it could provide. On her visits to China in the early 1980s—well before the wave of Western tourism in Communist countries—she would wake early to perform tai chi outdoors with the locals. Upon her marriage to Charles Ireland, CEO of Vulcan Materials, she enjoyed visiting the Ireland family homes in Paris and St. Tropez, as well as a chateau in the Dordogne. She was an accomplished deep sea fisherwoman and an inspired cook, having studied under Simone Beck, the godmother of French cooking in America.
Her passion extended to the arts, especially for examples by American masters such as Sargent, Bellows, O’Keefe, Cassatt, and Homer, to name a few, as well as Asian works of art, silver and jewelry. In 1979, Andy Warhol was commissioned to paint four portraits of Caroline and her husband Charles, which he made using a series of Polaroids. Caroline’s philanthropic efforts focused on museums and educational institutions; she sat on the boards of numerous museums and libraries, including the Birmingham Museum of Art, New Orleans Museum of Art and Lynn Haven Library. She and Charles, to whom she was married for 28 years, endowed several funds and scholarships for the University of Alabama, from which Caroline earned an honorary doctorate. The couple also enjoyed building the corporate collection for Vulcan Materials.
The items offered here, reflecting a classic American style, provide but one perspective on the life of this fascinating woman. We look forward to presenting more jewels from the collection, including works by important European and Russian makers, in the months ahead.
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