RECOLLECTIONS by Colin Stair
I first met Melinda and Paul Sullivan at a dinner at their home, in the very late 90s. The great antiquarian, the late Virginia Rosen, asked me to accompany her to dinner there. Melinda Sullivan is a self-described ‘frustrated museum curator’ whose interest in porcelain was born from her love of cooking and entertaining. I had heard tales of their collection of unusual Austrian porcelain, Du Paquier, but was unfamiliar with it, so I began researching it immediately. Despite my research, I could not believe my eyes when I saw it in person, and spent the majority of the evening drinking in the extensive collections.
The house, Eyrie Knoll, is an imposing Georgian revival mansion, set amongst other beautiful homes in Hartford. The Sullivans lovingly restored and decorated it themselves over many years, using the finest fabrics and finishes available, and it was clearly appreciated by everyone. Dr. Sullivan shared with me that one evening they had Julia Child as a dinner guest (they also loved to cook and hosted numerous dinner parties) and as she came out of the lavatory, she exclaimed ‘I could live in there’!
In 2009, the Metropolitan Museum of Art held an extensive exhibition ‘Imperial Privilege: Vienna Porcelain of Du Paquier, 1718–44’. The majority of its impressive works were on loan from the Sullivan’s collection. In conjunction with this honor, the Sullivans published ‘Fired By Passion’ through their Foundation for the Decorative Arts. The book is of impressive scope, telling the story of Du Paquier globally, as well as in the Sullivan Collection. In 2018, the Sullivans gifted fourteen significant Du Paquier pieces to the Frick Collection, which was grown from the original Sevres collection of Henry Clay Frick, and their donation compliments the porcelain holdings of the museum perfectly.
Given all of this, you can imagine my excitement when I received a call in the Fall of 2018, asking me to visit the Sullivans, as they were interested in selling part of their collection. Consequently, we are offering a group of wonderful treasures in our April 27 & 28, and May 17 sales, including examples of English, German and French porcelain, some splendid pieces of furniture, and fine European paintings.