Throughout their lives, Robert and Lois Orchard supported and enriched the creative community in their hometown of St. Louis and beyond. The Orchards were well known for their habitual attendance at opera performances and their beautifully curated collection of fine art, which spanned both period and genre. Leslie Hindman Auctioneers is proud to offer a selection of exemplary works of art from the Estate of Robert and Lois Orchard in the September 30 Modern and Contemporary Art auction.
Robert Orchard began his career in his family’s paper business, ultimately overseeing the company’s growth and forming the Orchard Corporation of America. In addition, Mr. Orchard hosted KFUO radio’s “Opera Theater,” introducing and airing an opera performance every Saturday morning for 27 years. He amassed an impressive collection of opera recordings, which he ultimately donated to the Library of Congress. This love of opera and their philanthropic spirit led to the couple’s assistance in founding Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 1976 and the Center of Creative Arts in 1986. Like her husband, Mrs. Orchard demonstrated an altruistic passion for art and music, serving on many institutional boards after retirement from the Behavioral Research Laboratory of Washington University in St. Louis.
Over a number of decades, the Orchards built their personal collection of modern and contemporary art, actively pursuing works they encountered everywhere, from prestigious exhibitions to print advertisements. Mr. Orchard often corresponded with artists, expressing admiration and extolling praise for the works he acquired. In a letter to Jiri Kolar, Robert wrote “Not a day goes by that my wife and I don’t see your marvelous works hanging in our home…we are deeply indebted to you for all of the beauty you have brought to our lives.”
The biggest highlight from the Orchard Estate in the September Modern and Contemporary sale is Nature morte au vin de madre, 1915 by Jean Metzinger. This painting reflects Metzinger’s quest for harmony in the language of Crystal Cubism. During the First World War, the artist furthered his role as a leading Cubist with his co-founding of this particular style. This purifying of Cubism is linked to a direct reaction of those, like Metzinger, who served in the Great War, and used its rational methods and call to order to escape the horrors of the armed conflict.
Rather than limiting the depiction of an object from one viewpoint, Metzinger advocated painting from different angles at once, in order to articulate successive and subjective experiences within the context of both space and time. Crystal Cubism emphasized mathematics, flat surface activity, and large, overlapping geometric planes. As opposed to the linear patterns used by Braque and Picasso, in this painting, Metzinger depicts the interlocking surfaces of the objects in the still life with muted colors that follow a pure geometry. The globular shape of the wine bottle melds into the rim of the cup that stand before it, which in turn is echoed by the bowl of the pipe in the left foreground. In one form, the artist reduces and combines intelligibly a series of objects that elegantly fit together. Nature morte au vin de madre stands as an important example of Metzinger’s urgent search for deeper harmonies in a dramatically changed world.
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers is delighted to work with the Orchard family. Mr. and Mrs. Orchard’s property will be offered in the following auctions this fall: Important Jewelry, St. Louis Fall Auction, Modern Design and Fine Furniture, Decorative Arts & Silver.
 Robert Orchard to Jiri Kolar, February 7, 1986, Orchard Family Collection, St. Louis.