Édouard Vuillard - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 15, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    O’Hana Gallery, London (acquired directly from the artist)
    Continental Fine Arts (Eric Estorick), New York
    Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner in 1958

  • Exhibited

    Pasadena Art Museum, November 20, 1963 - July 3, 1964 (on loan)

  • Literature

    Antoine Salomon and Guy Cogeval, Vuillard: Critical Catalogue of Paintings and Pastels, Milan, 2003, no. X-213, p. 1278 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    The collection of Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum illustrates an exceptional vision that was ahead of its time. With works ranging from sculptures by Henry Moore to masterful paintings by Édouard Vuillard and William Baziotes, a visit to the couple’s Los Angeles residence provided visitors with an eclectic feast for the senses. Initially formed by Betty with her first husband, Hollywood producer Milton Sperling, and later in partnership with political activist Stanley Sheinbaum upon their marriage in 1964, this remarkable collection is unique for its commitment to both contemporary art and midcentury American craft. Largely assembled within a period of just four years between 1958 and 1962, the works that comprise this collection were very much contemporaneous to the epoch—offering a fascinating snapshot of the vanguard of collecting at this crucial moment in time.

    Heiress to one of the most successful motion picture and television dynasties in the world, Betty Sheinbaum was born to Polish-Jewish émigré Harry Warner in New York City in 1920. Three years after her birth, Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. was officially established—marking it as one of the first movie studios in the world. Harry, now the first President of the company, moved his family to Los Angeles. Despite her status as Hollywood-royalty, Betty, by her own accounts, was permitted a normal childhood—going to public school, playing with neighborhood friends and visiting local movie theaters. At age 19, Betty married the up-and-coming screenwriter Milton Sperling, whom she had met three years prior and with whom she would have four children. Following the end of World War II, Harry Warner made Sperling a producer at Warner Bros.

    While immersed in the glamorous Hollywood scene, Betty forged her path with a distinctive sense of independence and purpose—living her life at the junction of art and politics. Long before it was common for women to take on roles other than that of wife and mother, Betty took night courses in philosophy, comparative religion and literature at the University of California, Los Angeles, and began art school at age thirty. As her daughter Cass Warner recalled, Betty could always be found painting and welding sculptures from found material in her garage-studio: “to me she was a superwoman as I witnessed her ability to juggle her time so that she could be involved with social and political issues” (Cass Warner, Hollywood Be Thy Name, Rocklin, 1994, p. 342). Betty dedicated herself to art throughout her entire life not just as a prolific artist, but notably also a collector of contemporary art. Prompted in part by the recently retired Harry Warner’s bequest of a large portion of his studio account to Betty in 1957, she acquired many of the important works in the collection between 1958 and 1962. It is testament to Betty’s discerning eye for quality that she put the collection together by working with the most important dealers of the period: including Sidney Janis, Paul Kantor, Felix Landau and Eric Estorick.

    After many years of ardently following and engaging with the groundbreaking developments in art happening around her, Betty assembled a superb collection with the focus and connoisseurship of a collector finally given the opportune moment. As Betty’s daughter Karen Sperling recalls, “A lot of people buy art to have its value go up and to stick it on the wall and stand back from it. My mom bought because she loved a piece and knew the artist. She had a collection to live with” (Karen Sperling, quoted in Christie D’Zurilla, “Betty Warner Sheinbaum”, Los Angeles Times, August 9, 2017, online).
    As she hung the works on the wall of her home, it became clear that each of the works were uniquely in conversation with each other, a collection featuring seminal pieces by some of the most important 20th Century Modern artists, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall and Hans Arp. It is crucial to remember that at the time, with the exception of the recently deceased Matisse, these were all living artists who had conceived these works within the last three decades. This is without a doubt a collection that speaks to the unique art historical moment in time that Betty was so deeply immersed in.

    In her voracious support and patronage of art in the 1960s, Betty was passionately joined by her second husband, Stanley Sheinbaum, whom she married in 1964 after her divorce from Milton Sperling. Also born in New York in 1920, Stanley had initially pursued a career as a research economist after graduating from Stanford University, but quickly turned towards politics. When Betty and Stanley met, he was a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, one of the first think tanks in the world. While Betty had previously already been active in politics, she found within Stanley a kindred spirit with whom she would embark upon a path of political activism. Together, the Sheinbaums dedicated themselves to human rights, social justice, education, politics and world affairs.

    Exemplifying a deeply personal, all-inclusive and democratic vision, the Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum Collection demonstrates the same unwavering commitment that defined their legacy of shared political activism. The Sheinbaums stand as examples of true connoisseurs and patrons who immersed themselves in their own time and place, while still also understanding the trajectory of the art historical canon. As such, the Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum Collection is a testament to the passion, unwavering dedication and incredible foresight of two of the most important collectors and patrons of contemporary art and American craft.

The Modern Form: Property from the Collection of Betty and Stanley Sheinbaum


Monsieur et Madame Kapferer

signed "E. Vuillard" lower right
glue-based distemper on paper, mounted on canvas
34 1/2 x 40 in. (87.6 x 101.6 cm.)
Executed in 1916.

$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $77,500

Contact Specialist
John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York Auction 15 November 2017