Auction of The Patricia and Donald Oresman Collection at Doyle

  • NEW YORK, New York
  • /
  • November 14, 2018

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Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Nude Reading, Color relief print, 1994. Est. $60,000-90,000.
David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992), Arthur Rimbaud in New York, 1978-79, Gelatin silver print. Est. $6,000-8,000.
Kathe Kollwitz (German, 1867-1945), Der Lesende, 1917, Charcoal on buff wove paper. Est. $25,000-35,000.

Doyle will auction the Collection of quintessential New Yorkers Patricia and Donald Oresman on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 at 10am. Comprising over 500 lots, this remarkable collection showcases the works of prominent artists, popular illustrators and renowned photographers. The paintings, sculptures, works on paper, prints and photographs span several decades, movements and mediums. Each work shares a common theme: Reading. Throughout the collection, figures can be spotted in the act of reading, writing, printing and studying, many fully engrossed in literature.

Not coincidentally, the works are a reflection of the Oresmans themselves -- a long-married couple who could often be found sitting among their books, fully engrossed in literature. Naturally, their love of reading informed their acquisitions. Their constantly growing art collection complemented a massive private library, designed by noted New York architects Fairfax & Sammons to showcase both books and art. The collection clearly mirrors the Oresmans’ lifelong passion for literature.

The couple collected many pieces created during the Great Depression, from images depicting upper class businesspeople poring over great literature and theologians immersed in religious texts to struggling down-on-their-luck folks studying the want ads. This focus led them to amass an important group of works by WPA artists including Aaron Bohrod, Jacob Lawrence, Louis Lozowick, Louise Nevelson, Ben Shahn and many others.

Roy Lichtenstein’s (1923-1997) color relief print, Nude Reading, highlights his comic strip-inspired Ben-Day dot technique (est. $60,000-$90,000). A delicate pencil sketch, Reading Woman, circa 1907, by Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) is rendered in his sublime Art Nouveau style (est. $20,000-$30,000).

The subject of a recent major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) is represented by one of his Arthur Rimbaud in New York series of late 1970s photographs of a figure wearing a paper mask of the legendary poet (est. $6,000-8,000).

Among the other artists represented in this extensive collection are Milton Avery, Marc Chagall, Lucien Freud, Alberto Giacometti,  Rockwell Kent, Kathe Kollwitz, Jacob Lawrence, Rene Magritte, Henri Matisse, Alexander Rodchenko, George Tooker and Andy Warhol.

Mrs. Oresman was a social worker, book lover and a passionate student of Emily Dickinson’s poetry. Mr. Oresman, an attorney and businessman, served on the board of The New Criterion, The Landmarks Conservancy, The Morgan Library, The Library of America, The Academy of American Poets, and others. His energy seemingly knew no bounds. A tireless activist for preservation, his role in the Conservancy, in particular, helped create the New York City Historic Properties Fund.

On the event of the 2004 exhibition of works from their collection at Poets House in New York, Mr. Oresman commented, “I think there is an intensity to reading that captures artists’ imaginations because it has a very private element to it.”

The public is invited to the exhibition on view from Friday, November 16 through Monday, November 18. Doyle is located at 175 East 87th Street in Manhattan. The catalogue is available online at

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