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A French-American Family Collection

Maurice and Suzanne Wolf
Maurice and Suzanne Wolf

Dr. Maurice Wolf, originally from the Alsace region of Germany/France, was the primary collector of the Pre-Columbian art from this French-American family collection. His story is an intriguing 20th century tale of a young man who came of age during World War I and, of Jewish faith, underwent life changing events during World War II, including immigration to the United States. In the post war years, Wolf enjoyed a comfortable life in New York City, settling in with a circle of accomplished friends, while amassing an impressive and varied art collection.

By the mid-20th century, Wolf had built a successful private practice in rheumatology, serving, among others, French artists, writers, and journalists who had also taken refuge in New York. Luminary fashion designer Christian Dior and artist Joan Miro were two of his distinguished patients. As well, Wolf went on missions for the World Health Organization; and with his wife, Suzanne, he traveled to distant regions of the world, most notably Latin America and Southern Asia. It was on these trips that he obtained a number of the objects in this collection along with a few Asian artworks. Receipts, still in existence, show that he purchased the Pre-Columbian artworks in the 1950s and 1960s in Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, Great Britain, France and the US.

An appraisal of his collection, done in the early 1970s, reveals that Wolf's enthusiasm for art was not limited to non-Western art. By then, Wolf had acquired drawings and painting by some of the most masterful Western artists: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, and Camille Pissarro. From Wolf's more contemporary art holdings, Heritage Auctions recently sold important works by Robert Motherwell and Max Ernst. Heritage's European Paintings sale on June 24th will auction one of his Pissarro's, while the Fine and Decorative Art auction, June 24 - 27, will sell Lalique vases along with other decorative objects.

This diverse collection of Pre-Columbian art comes to Heritage by way of Wolf's grand children. Highlights include: four intricate Jaina Figures ( lots 70256 - 59 ); A Large Vera Cruz Seated Figure ( lot 70277 ); a charming Nayarit Matrimonial Pair of Figures (lot 70299) and two Moche Stirrup Spout Portrait Vessels ( lots 70322 - 23 ).

View the Maurice and Suzanne Wolf Collection here.