Christie’s will be auctioning the Collection of Mrs. Henry Ford II, across two live sales in New York and London this spring. Part I of The Collection of Mrs. Henry Ford II, from her Palm Beach home, will be offered in a live sale at Christie’s New York on March 30th followed by Part II, from her English residences in London’s prestigious Eaton Square and her country home, Turville Grange in Buckinghamshire, to be offered at Christie’s London on April 15th.
The late Kathleen Ford was of course the widow of Henry Ford II, chief executive officer of the Ford Motor Company and grandson of Ford’s founder Henry Ford. Henry Ford II was an iconic figure in the automotive industry having accomplished many important milestones for the Ford Motor company during his tenure. Kathleen Ford was an accomplished photographer and former model.
We had the opportunity to preview select pieces from the collection at Christie’s Pop-up at the Norton Museum in Palm Beach on February 24th where some wonderful handbags were on display for immediate purchase as well.
The New York and London sales build on the strong momentum established by the highly successful sales of Mrs. Ford’s important Impressionist paintings and jewelry at Christie’s New York last December, with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Pierreuse, achieving the top price of the 20th Century Sale: Hong Kong to New York. The collection to be offered this spring, comprises approximately 650 lots and is expected to realize in excess of $5 million across both the New York and London auctions.
Highlights of the collection include important impressionist works as well as masterpieces of the decorative arts from the celebrated interiors created by McMillen for Henry Ford II at Grosse Pointe, Michigan in the 1950s; the collection there was considered almost without rival in its own time.
According to Charles Cator, Deputy Chairman, Christie’s International: “The Ford name is not only synonymous with the creation of the modern automotive industry but also with style and collecting on a grand scale. These sales open a window on a golden era, with many of the important works of art acquired in the mid-20th Century during a time of unprecedented opportunity for the discerning collector. Objects appealed not only because of their importance or quality but also for their exceptional provenance; the sale includes works of art from collections such as that of the Duke of Wellington as well as furniture from great English country houses such as Campsea Ashe High House.
“Kathleen Ford’s interiors, created in collaboration with architects and designers such as Mario Buatta, David Easton, Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler and Grant White, built on these earlier foundations and are testament to her taste and flair. Christie’s is thrilled to have been entrusted with this multi-faceted collection, which will not only be a highlight of the spring auction season on both sides of the Atlantic, but also offers a glimpse of the private world and personal taste of members of one of America’s most celebrated dynasties.”
The New York auction: The Collection of Mrs. Henry Ford II: Palm Beach on 30 March comprises approximately 250 lots with estimates ranging from $1,000 to $400,000 and includes masterpiece objects, such as a rare George III ormolu-mounted white marble and biscuit-porcelain clock by Benjamin Vulliamy, circa 1791, and important English furniture and works of art by the most pre-eminent craftsmen of the George III period including Ince & Mayhew, William Vile, John Cobb, Matthew Boulton, Pierre Langlois, John Linnell and Thomas Chippendale. Many of the masterworks come from the former home of Henry Ford II in Grosse Pointe, Michigan – which featured celebrated interiors created in collaboration with the design firm of McMillen in the 1950s, of which it had been written that ‘it would be almost impossible for anyone – no matter how wealthy – to put together a collection of such a richness and quality today’.
These historic highlights were complemented by the taste of Mrs. Ford in her Palm Beach home, designed by architect Jeffery Smith, with stunning lighting, silver, porcelain services, entertaining wares, needlework carpets, soft furnishings, modern art and objects of vertu.
With estimates ranging from £500 to £300,000, the London auction on April 15th includes approximately 400 lots from Mrs. Henry Ford II’s grand London residence on Eaton Square and her charming country home, Turville Grange, Buckinghamshire. The sale is led by important Impressionist works by Edouard Vuillard and Kees van Dongen acquired by Henry Ford II in the 1950s & 1960s, which are complemented by modern British pictures, English, European and American furniture, silver, porcelain services, carpets, lighting and decorative furnishings.
The London sale also includes more personal items such as engraved silver from Henry Ford II’s yacht Santa Maria and his desk from Turville Grange, as well as a small group of Kathleen Ford’s handbags by makers such as Chanel and Hermès. The eponymous English decorators Colefax & Fowler were instrumental in the creation of the interiors at both Kathleen Ford’s London home on Eaton Square and her Buckinghamshire country home, Turville Grange. Previous owners of Turville Grange included Lee Radziwill, the sister of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and her husband Prince Stanislas Radziwill. Turville Grange was visited by Jacqueline Kennedy several times including for New Year’s celebrations on December 31, 1969. Turville Grange has been the subject of various features, including Vogue (1971) and Architectural Digest (2018).