Christie’s announces the star lot of the Pearson collection that will appear in the Old Master sale on July 5th:
Many of the works to be offered from the collections were acquired by Weetman Dickinson Pearson (1856-1927), the first Viscount Cowdray, and his son, Weetman Harold Miller Pearson, the 2nd Viscount. Weetman Pearson, 1st Viscount Cowdray, developed his family firm, S. Pearson and Son Ltd., from a small company in Bradford into one of the most successful business empires of the 20th century. In 1889 he won the contract to drain Mexico City by means of a Grand Canal and, having gained the friendship of President Porfirio Diàz, Pearson developed vast oil fields in Mexico. His firm became one of the largest construction companies in the world and together with his oil interests, he accrued extraordinary wealth. He was for ten years the Liberal Member of Parliament for Colchester, and due to his regular absences from the Houses of Commons, was often referred to in jest as ‘the Member for Mexico’. Weetman Pearson acquired Cowdray Park in 1909. On his death in 1927, an American newspaper described him as ‘one of the greatest pioneers ever sent out of Britain’. Pearson PLC exists today as a global media and education company and the largest book publisher in the world.
The auction will offer one of the finest collections of British portraits to come to the market in a generation. Offered from Cowdray Park, the group is led by Portrait of Miss Read, later Mrs. William Villebois, an exceptional portrait by Thomas Gainsborough, R.A. (1727 -1788) that has been unseen in public for 75 years. Estimated to realize £4 million to £6 million, it is poised to establish a new record price for the artist (currently $5.75 million).