|Name:||Abby Aldrich Rockefeller|
|Birth Day:||October 26, 1874|
|Death Date:||Apr 5, 1948 (age 73)|
|#1||Abby Rockefeller Mauzé||Daughter||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#2||Nelson W. Aldrich||Father||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#4||Steven Clark Rockefeller||Grandson||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#6||Jay Rockefeller||Grandson||$160 Million||N/A||83||Politician|
|#8||John D. Rockefeller III||Son||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|#9||David Rockefeller||Son||$2.9 Billion||N/A||101||Entrepreneur|
|#10||Winthrop Rockefeller||Son||$5 Million - $10 Million (Approx.)||N/A||108||Politician|
|#11||Laurance Rockefeller||Son||$1 Million - $2 Million (Approx.)||N/A||94||Activist|
|#12||Nelson Rockefeller||Son||$1.1 Billion||N/A||70||Politician|
|#13||John D. Rockefeller Jr.||Spouse||$5 Million (Approx.)||N/A||86||Entrepreneur|
As per our current Database, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller died on Apr 5, 1948 (age 73).
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She grew up in Providence, Rhode Island as the daughter of a senator (Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich) and the sister of a future congressman (Richard Steere Aldrich).
In November 1893 she made her social debut at her coming-out party, which sparked her lifelong love of social events.
On June 30, 1894, on a trip fostered by her father, Rockefeller sailed to Liverpool, beginning a lifetime of extensive European and later Asian travel. Her initial four-month sojourn included stops in England, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and France. This and future trips featured visits to numerous art galleries, informing her future discernment as an art collector.
In the fall of 1894, she met John Davison Rockefeller Jr., the only son of Standard Oil co-founder John Davison Rockefeller Sr. and schoolteacher Laura Celestia "Cettie" Spelman, at a friend's house in Providence. Their long courtship is documented in her engagement books, which were used to formally detail her meetings with potential suitors. In the spring of 1894, they began to share walks together on Sunday afternoons. These meetings progressed further until late August 1901, when they became engaged. They married on October 9, 1901, in the major society wedding of the Gilded Age, in front of around a thousand of the elite personages of the time, at her father's summer home, "Indian Oaks", in Warwick Neck, Kent County, Rhode Island.
From 1918 to 1936 she held active service in the YWCA, though upon her retirement from leadership roles, she was considered an honorary member. She was a member of the YWCA's National Board, and served as the vice-president and chairman of numerous committees. Notably, in 1918 she was elected as chairman of the Housing Committee of the War Work Council. The committee was organized during World War I with the objective of providing improved living conditions for working women. For example, she worked closely with the architect who was tasked with designing a house in Charleston, South Caroline to house women working in a naval uniform factory.
In October 1920, Rockefeller desired to create a demonstration structure for the employees of the Bayway Refinery of Standard Oil, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The structure was meant to be an example of a worker's home, though soon the purpose of the cottage extended to one of community learning. The cottage hosted cooking classes, a Mothers' Club, and a baby clinic. In 1926, the cottage was expanded to include a club-room, larger kitchen, larger baby clinic, gymnasium, and office for social workers. In 1939, another addition created a bowling alley and other game rooms. In 1947, 9700 people made use of the Bayway Community Cottage in some way.
Rockefeller was director of the YWCA operated and owned, Grace Doge Hotel in Washington D.C. which was constructed in October 1921. Rockefeller monitored financial reports and oversaw advertisements for the hotel, with the primary goal of serving female workers. She objected to racial discrimination in the wages, status, and living arrangements of the staff at the Grace Doge Hotel.
Abby Rockefeller began collecting paintings, watercolors, and drawings by a number of contemporary American artists in 1925, as well as a number of European modernists: Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. She became a prominent patron of modern art.
In the mid-1920s, Abby and her husband were contacted by Reverend Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin, who was rector of Bruton Parish Church and an instructor at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. After seeing Dr. Goodwin's restored church, they explored further his concept of a massive restoration of the city to its glory days prior to the American Revolution, as the capital of the Virginia Colony. They became committed to funding the project, which commenced in 1927.
In 1928, she employed Donald Deskey to create a series of furnished rooms, done in the art deco style, for the Rockefeller home. These rooms were dubbed the Topside Gallery, and served as a display area for Rockefeller's growing art collection. The art in the room was regularly cycled, forming curated exhibitions of Rockefeller's modern and folk art collections. Visitors to the gallery would ride an elevator to the 7th floor of the Rockefeller home, keeping the gallery separate, though connected, from private areas serving the rest of the family. The news of her interests and activities spread quickly from this period, and many subsequent collectors began to follow her lead.
Rockefeller was elected to MoMA's Board of Trustees in October 1929 and served as inaugural treasurer from 1929 until 1934. Her other roles included terms as First Vice-President from 1934 until 1936, and First Vice-Chairman from 1941 to 1945. Her son Nelson Rockefeller was involved in the museum alongside her, starting out as chairman of the junior advisory committee and rising to president.
In 1929, Rockefeller became an early customer of the Downtown Gallery, run by art dealer, Edith Halpert. Halpert was selling 19th-century pictures and weathervanes that had been gathered from New England. The timing was perfect for the Rockefeller because her and her husband has just began contributing to restoration works at what is now known as Colonial Williamsburg. Her years of collecting would span from the late 1920s to 1942.
In 1930 and 1931, the Newark Museum exhibited a collection of American folk art. Approximately 10 percent of these items were attributed to the same anonymous donor, in actuality the donor was Abby Rockefeller.
In 1932, Rockefeller's collection was again loaned anonymously, this time to the Museum of Modern Art for an exhibition titled American Folk Art: The Art of the Common Man in America. Of the 175 objects on display, 174 of the objects belonged to Rockefeller, with the remaining single object belonging to Henry Cahill. The exhibition was highly successful, and became the first traveling exhibition of American folk art, visiting six American cities from 1932 to 1934.
Rockefeller's collection grew with the help of Holger Cahill and Edith Halpert. Outside of the employment of these two curators, most of the items in the collection were discovered in their places of origin. For example, in 1934, Cahill was sent by Rockefeller to the southern United States to personally gather new items for the collection. On this trip, Cahill found items in people's sitting rooms, attics, and carpenter's shops. In Orangeburg, South Carolina, Cahill found what is considered to be one of Rockefeller's most important acquisitions, a watercolor titled The Old Plantation.
In 1934, Rockefeller began to lend parts of her collection for permanent display in the Ludwell-Paradis House in Colonial Williamsburg. The exhibits were installed mostly under the guidance of Edith Halpert and opened to the public in 1935, remaining open until January 1956. Other pieces were hung in Colonial Williamsburg in neighboring exhibition buildings or operating taverns, blending in with the existing decor.
Chief among Rockefeller's concerns at the new museum was the strength of the permanent collection. She often privately gave her own money to the museum for the purchase of new acquisitions. In 1938, she granted the museum its first purchase fund, which was handsomely increased by Nelson Rockefeller.
In 1939, fifty-four pieces of the folk art collection were donated to the Museum of Modern Art.
Abby Rockefeller suffered a heart attack and died on April 5, 1948, at the Rockefeller family home at 740 Park Avenue in New York City, at the age of 73.
Her will was filed for probate on April 22, 1948, and her gross estate was appraised at $1,156,269. As per her final wishes, four major works were bequeathed to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): Lady With a Parasol and Seated Woman, both by George Seurat; Street at Saintes-Maries and Corridor at Saint-Remy by Van Gogh. She left her Oriental miniatures to the Fogg Museum. Her residuary estate of $850,848, minus estate taxes of $250,000, was donated to the MoMA.
Many ideas concerning the development of the museum originated with Rockefeller. For example, it was Rockefeller who campaigned for the creation of the museum's film library. Also, it was Rockefeller's idea to create the War Veterans' Art Center. This center aimed to rehabilitate veterans of World War II through the practice of art. Stephen Clark was her co-sponsor on the project, Kenneth Chorley was the supervisor of the center's activities, and Victor D'Amico was the supervisor of activities. The center served 1485 veterans until it was closed in June 1948, in an effort to rejoin veteran artists with civilian artists at the People's Art Center.
A number of dedications were made in her honor and in remembrance of her commitment as an art collector. One such was the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Print Room at the MoMA, which with her gift of sixteen hundred prints was opened on May 15, 1949. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center was opened in 1957 in Colonial Williamsburg to house her collection of folk art.
Rockefeller's legacy at the museum is preserved in the form of a number of dedications including the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Print Room, which opened in 1949, after her death. The room houses Rockefeller's gift of 1600 prints, which had been given nine years earlier. The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden was also named in her honor. The garden was designed by architect Philip Johnson and opened in 1953.
A number prominent figures paid homage to Rockefeller after her death. Most notably, was a contribution by artist Henri Matisse of a stained glass window for Union Church in Pocantico, New York. In the spring of 1954, at eighty-four years old, the then bedridden Matisse was asked to design a stained glass window for the Union Church as a memorial to Rockefeller. He regretfully refused the commission because his deteriorating health would prevent him from visiting and studying the location. After Alfred Rockefeller sent him a series of photographs of the location, Matisse changed his mind and began to work on the project. On November 1, 1954, he wrote that he had happily completed the work, and he died two days later.
In 1954, six years after Abby Rockefeller's death, the March edition of Antiques magazine published an announcement that a new museum would be constructed to house the Rockefeller folk art collection. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. provided the funds for construction of the project and the purchase of new objects. This endowment was so large that the museum was able to acquire over a hundred new objects in its first year of operation.
Currently, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller is 146 years, 9 months and 8 days old. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller will celebrate 147th birthday on a Tuesday 26th of October 2021.
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