“The Rockefeller Family Collects: Chinese Ceramics at Kykuit,”

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“The Rockefeller Family Collects: Chinese Ceramics at Kykuit,”

March 12, 2018 - 1:15 pm - 3:00 pm

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A Pair of Fu Lions, Qing, Kangxi period, 1662-1722, porcelain in Famille Verte enamels. Kykuit, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Cynthia Bronson Altman, Curator of the Collections, Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate, Tarrytown, New York

Kykuit, the Dutch word for “lookout,” is the 40-room Beaux Arts mansion built by John D. Rockefeller in 1914 on the highest hill of his 300-acre property in Tarrytown.  Both John D. Rockefeller, Jr. who moved there with his wife Abby Aldrich Rockefeller in 1937 on the death of his father, and his son Nelson were avid collectors of Chinese ceramics, which they added to Kykuit’s interiors.  Mr. Rockefeller, Jr. acquired many pieces from the collection of J. P. Morgan in the early decades of the 20th century.  Qing dynasty Famille verte and Famille Jaune vases and figures populate the office and the deep blues and aubergines of Ming fa hua temple jars, garden seats and figures compliment the Music Room, the central room of the first floor.  Nelson Rockefeller and his family lived at Kykuit for two decades in the 1960s and 1970s, and he brought magnificent funerary wares of the Han and Tang dynasties to Kykuit.

Cynthia Bronson Altman has been curator of the collections at Kykuit, the Rockefeller home in Pocantico Hills, for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund since 1991, and for the Rockefeller family for several years prior.  Mrs. Altman oversees the conservation and care of the collections of 20th century outdoor sculpture, the fountains and sculptural elements in the gardens, and the fine and decorative arts within the house.  She has published and lectured on the history of the collections and gardens, the Picasso tapestries, the Japanese Garden and Chinese ceramics.  She has arranged exhibitions at Pocantico, the New York offices of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and at Rockefeller University.  She also has advised on curatorial issues for the National Trust at Philip Johnson’s Glass House and at Rockefeller University. Mrs. Altman is a graduate of Middlebury College, and received an M.A. in art history from Columbia University specializing in Asian art.