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Heritage to Auction Artworks from the Estate of Edmund Pillsbury

by Jerome Weeks 20 Sep 2011 10:27 AM

The former director of the Kimbell Art Museum, who committed suicide in March 2010, had works by such modern masters as Robert Motherwell and Al Souza.


More than 250 artworks — including paintings by Robert Motherwell and Al Souza — will be auctioned October 26. They are part of the estate of the late Edmund Pillsbury, the director who helped build the Kimbell Art Museum’s collection to world-renowned status. After leaving the Kimbell, Pillsbury became head of the Meadows Art Museum at SMU — and worked a the chairman of  Heritage’s department of fine arts.

Pillsbury committed suicide in March 2010.  Heritage reports it is offering these items “on behalf of Dr. Pillsbury’s wife, children and grandchildren.”

The full release follows:

Contemporary art from The Estate of Dr. Edmund P. Pillsbury, Oct. 26, at Heritage Auctions

Works from Robert Motherwell, Bernard Frize, Al Souza and others highlight collection from renowned art expert

DALLAS, TX — More than 250 works of Contemporary Art from the Estate of the late Dr. Edmund P. Pillsbury anchor Heritage Auctions’ Oct. 26 Modern & Contemporary Art Signature® Auction, taking place at Heritage’s Design District Art Annex, 1518 Slocum Street.

“Ted was a great connoisseur of Modern and Contemporary, which might surprise some people, given his world-renowned expertise in Italian Renaissance Art,” said Frank Hettig, Director, Modern & Contemporary Art. “He had an eye for talent, across eras and millennia, which very few people could claim to match; this collection shows just how good he was.”

The collection includes works from major artists including Robert Motherwell, Bernard Frize, Al Souza, and Carlos Vega as well as emerging contemporary artists such as Fabian Marcaccio and Roe Ethridge.

“It’s an exceptional collection,” said Hettig, “and an equally great auction.”

The catalog will include an introductory essay and catalogue notes by Senior Art Expert, Dr. Marianne Berardi, who worked closely with Dr. Pillsbury at Heritage, as well as amusing and insightful anecdotes from his colleagues throughout the art world.

He was a long time well-respected voice in the world of Fine Art, earning a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in 1965 and his doctorate in Italian Renaissance art from London’s Courtauld Institute of Art. In 1972, he was named Curator of the Yale University Art Gallery and took over the University’s Yale Center for British Art four years later.

In 1980, the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth tagged Pillsbury to help build a world class collection and, in short order, he turned it into one of the great museums in the nation, expanding its small collection into one of true distinction. Due to his work with the Kimbell, the Frick Collection in New York in 1989 presented “In Pursuit of Quality: 25 Years of Collecting Old Masters,” an exhibition of 17 paintings from the Kimbell, most of which were acquired by Pillsbury.

In 2003, Pillsbury became director of the Meadows Art Museum at SMU, as well as a professor of art history.  He served as an advisor to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, and was the consultative director of the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art at the hotel and casino in Las Vegas.

From 2005 until his death in 2010, Pillsbury was Director of Museum Services and Chairman of the Department of Fine Arts at Heritage Auctions, which is honored to offer this collection on behalf of Dr. Pillsbury’s wife, children and grandchildren.

Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $700 million, and 600,000+ online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit