EXTREMELY LARGE ENGRAVED PRINT OF JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER, SIGNED BY HIM
ROCKEFELLER, John D. Engraved print signed. No place, no date. Engraved print, measuring 13-1/2 by 17 inches, mounted on cardstock; matted and framed, entire piece measures 16 by 19 inches. $3500.
Very large folio-size portrait of John D. Rockefeller, engraved by Timothy Cole after a painting by John Singer Sargent, signed in pencil in the lower margin by Rockefeller.
"John Davison Rockefeller was the guiding force behind the creation and development of the Standard Oil Company, which grew to dominate the oil industry and became one of the first big trusts in the United States, thus engendering much controversy and opposition regarding its business practices and form of organization. Rockefeller also was one of the first major philanthropists in the U.S., establishing several important foundations and donating a total of $540 million to charitable purposes" (The Rockefeller Archives). This portrait by John Singer Sargent is iconic. Rockefeller's son "managed to convince Sargent to paint John D. Rockefeller during an extended visit to America in 1916-17, even though by that point the artist was refusing portrait commissions because he wished to focus on watercolors rather than his 'old line of ladies portraiture.' In February 1917, Sargent traveled to The Casements, John D. Rockefeller's winter residence in Ormond Beach, Florida to paint the 78-year-old oil magnate. He is depicted in casually elegant attire: a white shirt, tie, vest, and pants with a blue serge jacket. Junior wrote to Sargent in March 1917 expressing some concern over this informal dress, stressing that it should be sufficiently appropriate to hang in the halls of institutions that John D. Rockefeller was a benefactor, but he ultimately deferred to Sargent's judgement on the matter. An austere crimson background and John D. Rockefeller's simple wooden chair emphasize simplicity over splendor. The initially reluctant portraitist and his sitter got along very well; Sargent was quite impressed with John D. Rockefeller and remarked upon 'his expression of benevolence' and compared him to 'an old medieval saint with a great deal of intellect.' The portrait was considered a great success by the artist and especially by Junior, who wrote that it would 'at a glance reveal to the passer-by the greatness of soul of this splendid man'" (National Trust for Historic Preservation). Similar engravings to this one reside at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Art Institute of Chicago, the last as a gift of Rockefeller himself. The original engraving was accomplished circa 1921; the date of this particular print is unknown, but is obviously before Rockefeller's death in 1937.
Minor chipping and a few small spots to marginal edges, image and signature quite lovely. A handsome signed item.