Property from the Estate of Gabriele Lee

A fine selection from one of Philadelphia's cultural champions

Property from the Estate of Gabriele Lee will be offered on September 15 as part of Freeman's Art and Design auction. Additional property from the Estate will be offered throughout our fall season. 

08/20/2021     News and Film, 20th Century and Contemporary Design, Modern and Contemporary Art


Gabriele Lee bestowed an extraordinary legacy of collecting and philanthropy, whose lasting impact will be felt throughout the cultural fabric of the city of Philadelphia, when she passed away earlier this year at the age of 84. Mrs. Lee studied interior architecture and furniture design in Bielefeld, Germany and later began a career as an interior architect, notably designing showrooms for Knoll furniture in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. She later joined Vincent Kling Architects and taught interior design at Drexel University for a time. Her aesthetic eye, in partnership with her late husband Robert S. Lee, Sr.’s passion for collecting, collaborated to form a large and important collection of art and design that filled their Society Hill home. The couple designed their home with Stephen Varenhorst Architects, with Mrs. Lee taking an active role, to showcase their eclectic collection in the best light, both indoors and out.

In addition to collecting contemporary paintings, prints, sculpture, and design, as well as European and Pre-Columbian works, Mrs. Lee dedicated herself to supporting the arts in Philadelphia, as a board member of the opera, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, specifically the Fleisher Art Memorial and Collab, which promotes Modern and Contemporary Design. The Lee’s gracious home, with its outstanding collection, was the setting for lively gatherings and fundraisers that benefited these institutions, creating the perfect setting for a celebration of the arts and the city they so loved.


Jun Kaneko, Untitled (Dango), Omaha, NE, 2005

Lot 2 | Jun Kaneko, Untitled (Dango), $10,000 - 15,000


Richard Artschwager, Chair/Chair
Lot 18 | Richard Artschwager, Chair/Chair, $7,000 - 9,000


In this sale, we are pleased to offer a select group of works from the collection. Some examples of design which reflect Gabriele Lee’s diverse visual knowledge include a Chair/Chair by Richard Artschwager (Lot 18), a glazed ceramic Dango by Jun Kaneko (Lot 2), and a set of six dining chairs by Warren Platner (Lot 7).


Max Beckmann, In the Tram (In der Trambahn)

Lot 12 | Max Beckmann, In the Tram (In der Trambahn), $4,000 - 6,000


The artwork offerings include several early 20th-century European prints by Max Beckmann (Lots 12-15), Egon Schiele (Lot 17), and Edvard Munch (Lot 16). The prints, created during a particularly turbulent time in central Europe, all bear signs of distortion of reality and perspective. Beckmann was known for instilling his hard-lined prints with sociopolitical criticism, with figures swimming in tension and unease, particularly evident in In the Tram (In der Trambahn) (Lot 12). Schiele spent his prolific albeit short career experimenting with ways to render, distort, and reimagine the human body through artworks such as Kauernde (Squatting Woman) (Lot 17), which features a particularly elongated spine and stilted perspective characteristic of the artist’s style. Edvard Munch’s Cruelty (Grusomhet) (Lot 16) depicts a figure recoiling on itself with a twisted smirk at the viewer while seemingly gouging the eyes of a second figure, imagery made only more affecting by the artwork’s pointed title.

Also featured in this auction are contemporary works by Philadelphia-based artists Edna Andrade (Lot 3), Thomas Chimes (Lot 1), Sarah McCoubrey (Lot 5), and Elizabeth Osborne (Lot 4). Additional works from the collection will be offered in Freeman’s Modern and Contemporary Art auction on November 17, as well as its Design auction on December 8. Freeman’s is honored to offer a curated selection from the prominent Lee collection, representing the legacy of one of Philadelphia’s cultural champions.





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