June and Perry Ottenberg were Philadelphians who supported some of the city’s most important art institutions and artists. The Ottenbergs were ardent champions of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Woodmere Art Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Moore College of Art and Tyler School of Art. Their collection is one formed by true lovers of art the city of Philadelphia. The Ottenbergs were drawn to artists who worked and lived in Philadelphia and remain of great interest to local collectors of their works.
The Ottenbergs were active patrons of many of the city’s most important fine artists. Their collection includes an impressive array of works by local contemporary artists such as Warren Rohrer, as well as PAFA alumnae Jane Piper (1916-1991) and Elizabeth Osborne (b. 1936). However, it is the work of the noted American modernist Arthur B. Carles (1882-1952) that seems to have captivated them most of all. Carles, a native Philadelphia, attended PAFA and studied under legendary artists Thomas Anschultz and Celia Beaux. Carles was featured in the vanguard Armory Show of 1913 in New York, which introduced Modern art to the American public for the first time; his influence both as an artist and teacher cannot be overstated. The Ottenbergs recognized his importance, and their collection includes a significant number of oil paintings and works on paper in various media. In 2002, they gifted a major collection of Carles’ paper and archives to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where the painted had once been a teacher. Dr. Ottenberg served on the board at the Academy, as well as at Moore College of Art, extending his interest in art in service of some of the city’s most important institutions.
Among the most important collectors of porcelain by ceramicist Rudolf Staffel (1911-2002), the Ottenbergs lent or donated works to dozens of museums and exhibitions, including landmark shows at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Staffel taught at Tyler for many years and continued to work in Philadelphia following his retirement. Roland Jahn (b.1934) and Francis McCarthy (1923-2005) are also richly represented in the Ottenberg Collection. Both artists have strong followings in the Philadelphia area—McCarthy attended PAFA and studied at the Barnes Foundation; Jahn was a longtime professor at the University of the Arts—and their work can be found in many local collections.
Freeman’s is honored to bring the Ottenberg collection of art, craft and design to auction this spring. Items from the Ottenberg’s lovingly assembled collection will be offered across multiple sales at Freeman’s, including our May 8 Modern & Contemporary Art auction, June 3 American Art & Pennsylvania Impressionists auction, June 4 Design auction, and July 11 Collector’s Sale. Freeman’s values collections and the stories they tell, and our own heritage in Philadelphia makes us uniquely positioned to steward this local, important collection to auction, while celebrating the couple behind it.