Sotheby’s New York to Offer Chinese Art & European Decorative Arts

Sotheby's Auction - Caramoor

Originally Published by Sotheby’s

Sotheby’s New York includes a selection of works acquired by Lucie and Walter Rosen in Chinese Art and European Decorative Arts auctions. Sales will benefit Lucie and Walter’s Rosen House at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts.


New York | +1 212 606 7176 | Darrell Rocha | [email protected]
Dan Abernethy| [email protected] | Shannon Demers | [email protected]

Sotheby’s New York to Offer Chinese Art & European Decorative Arts To Benefit the Rosen House at Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts

Two Dedicated Sales to Be Held During Asia Week and Decorative Arts Week At Sotheby’s New York in Spring 2016

NEW YORK, 29 January 2015 – Sotheby’s is honored to announce that it will offer Chinese art and European decorative art from the collection of Lucie and Walter Rosen, a prominent New York couple best-known today for founding Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, New York. The works on offer were acquired by the Rosens to fill both their New York City residence on Rockefeller Row as well as the Rosen House, their home on the Westchester County estate that today is the site of Caramoor. Today these objects illustrate a unique moment in the first half of the 20th century, when a small number of pioneering American collectors began to acquire magnificent works of art and objects from around the globe.

Sotheby’s will offer property from the Rosen’s collection in two dedicated auctions in New York this spring: the first on 16 March offering Chinese Art during Asia Week, and the second on 12 April offering European Decorative Arts during Decorative Arts Week. The full proceeds of the sales will support the ongoing care of Rosen House and the fine and decorative art housed there.

Jeffrey P. Haydon, Chief Executive Officer of Caramoor, commented: “The Rosens created a beautiful oasis for their friends and family to appreciate music and the arts, and then opened Caramoor to the public to share that experience with everyone. In our 70th anniversary year, we have launched an initiative to ensure the ongoing vitality of the Rosen House. The sale of these carefully selected items preserves our ability to highlight the treasures at Rosen House and provides funding that will support the care of this extraordinary home and the objects housed there for future generations.”


Caramoor was born of great love – the love shared by founders Lucie and Walter Rosen, both for one another and for music and the arts. Walter T. Rosen was a Harvard-educated banker and amateur pianist who had immigrated from Berlin to pursue further the family’s interest in international banking, and Lucie Bigelow Dodge an accomplished musician from a notable New York family. Her great-grandfather, Congressman William E. Dodge, co-founded the American mining company Phelps Dodge Corporation, and her paternal grandfather, Charles Stuart Dodge, served as a Brigadier 3 General in the Civil War. Lucie’s maternal grandfather was John Bigelow, whose long list of accomplishments includes: co-owner and editor of the New York Evening Post; Minister to France under Abraham Lincoln; Secretary of State of New York; and one of the founders of the New York Public Library.

Walter and Lucie met and fell in love at first sight in 1914, and were married six weeks later. In 1928, the Rosens bought the Caramoor estate, and built a series of buildings inspired by Venice. The centerpiece of the estate was their Mediterranean-style villa, completed in 1939. Like the Morgan and Hearst families, the Rosens imported complete 18th-century rooms in their entirety from palaces across Italy, France and England, inspired by their many travels as a couple. Walter’s love of Italy and the Italian Renaissance in particular was born out of his friendship with Isabella Stewart Gardner of Boston – who he met shortly after starting at Harvard – and his frequent visits to practice piano at the Gardner home. As was de rigeur in the early part of the 20th century, the Rosens mixed Chinese art with their continental furniture, often buying from the most notable dealers of the day in their respective fields. Today the Rosen’s house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Following the death of their only son during World War II, the Rosens bequeathed the estate in his memory to serve as a center for music and the arts after their own deaths. The Caramoor Festival, which recently celebrated its 70th summer season, grew out of the public concerts that the Rosens held in their historic home.

Dedicated Auction in New York 16 March during Asia Week

A dedicated sale of Chinese Art from the Rosen House will feature a broad range of Liao to Qing Dynasty ceramics and works of art, many of which were acquired by the Rosens in the mid-20th century. The sale will be led by an exceptional selection of Imperial enameled metal wares dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

A Rare and Impressive Cloisonné-Enamel and Gilt-Bronze Five-Piece Altar Garniture (Wugong) represents the pinnacle of artistic and technical achievement of imperial enamel craftsmanship during the Qianlong period of the Qing dynasty (left, estimate $300/500,000). The basic ceremonial furnishings of the shrines, temples and ritual spaces within the compounds of the Imperial palaces and gardens included a five-piece altar garniture such as the present example, known as the Wugong (the five offerings), comprised of an incense burner, placed in the center, flanked by two candleholders and gu-shaped vases. Every detail on the present set – one of very few in cloisonné enamel that remains intact – has been executed to the highest degree: the layout of the thin wires forming the cloisons is precise and well planned, and the bright enamel colors are all delicately blended and sophisticatedly done. It is likely that this garniture was manufactured at the imperial cloisonné enamel workshops under the supervision of the Palace Workshops (Zaoban chu). Further highlighting the sale is A Rare Pair of Ormolu and Paste-Set Lanterns, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period, which were held by the Rosens for many decades (estimate $500/800,000).

Dedicated Auction in New York 12 April during Decorative Arts Week

In April, Sotheby’s will hold a dedicated auction of European decorative arts from Caramoor. Walter and Lucie Rosen purchased these works during their trips overseas, and their passion for collecting is seen throughout the extensive group. This assemblage most closely focuses on 18th-century furniture from England, Italy, and Germany, with mid-18th century Venice being particularly well-represented. A highlight of the furniture selection is a German 5 Rococo Silvered and Gilt-Gessoed Bombé Commode, created in Dresden or Potsdam in the mid- 18th century (above, estimate $70/100,000).

Leading the selection of carpets on offer is a very rare and important weaving from 16th-century Turkey (estimate $600/800,000). Woven during the Ottoman Empire in Oushak, Western Anatolia, this carpet is known as a ‘Small pattern Holbein’ carpet. They were named for the artist Hans Holbein, as he depicted such a carpet in many of his paintings. Large-sized carpets that have survived intact from the 16th century are rare, and those with the Holbein design are even more so. Most extant examples are in museums, with only fragments or damaged examples having appeared at auction in the last three decades.

While France and Belgium became the epicenters for tapestry weaving in Europe, Swiss tapestries were rarer, and were a sign of wealth and prosperity. The weaving of Samson and Delila, from Caramoor, is a stunning example of Swiss Gothic weaving from the town of Basel circa 1440 (estimate $100/200,000).


Caramoor is a performing arts center located on a unique 90-acre setting of Italianate architecture and gardens in Westchester County, NY. It enriches the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of opera, orchestra, chamber, jazz, and American Roots music. Its mission also includes mentoring emerging professional musicians and providing music-based educational programs for young children. The relaxed settings of the Venetian Theater, Spanish Courtyard, Music Room of the Rosen House, and magnificent gardens provide the perfect setting to discover beautiful music. The Rosen House features entire rooms originally from European villas and palaces in Italy, France, and England and objects they purchased from Europe and Asia. Audiences are invited to come early to explore the idyllic grounds, tour the Rosen House, and, on special Sundays, enjoy a delicious afternoon tea, or unwind with a pre-concert picnic. Summer concerts take place in two outdoor theaters: the 1,546-seat, acoustically superb Venetian Theater and the more intimate, romantic 500-seat Spanish Courtyard. In fall and winter, all concerts are presented in the magnificent Music Room in the Rosen House. Caramoor’s grounds include nine unique perennial gardens and are used for concerts in the summer. Among the gardens are a Sense Circle for the visually impaired, the Sunken Garden, a Butterfly Garden, the Tapestry Hedge, and the Iris and Peony Garden. To learn more, visit

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*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium and prices achieved include the hammer price plus buyer’s premium.

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