Christie's auction house comes to Fairfield through a series of seminars presented by University College

Christie's auction house comes to Fairfield through a series of seminars presented by University College

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of the glamorous world of high-end auction houses? University College at Fairfield University invites you to enter the world of Christie's, the esteemed auction house established in London in 1776. Today, Christie's is a unique showcase for original, desirable, and beautiful works of art. In addition to auctioning an array of artwork, from old master paintings to Impressionist and American works, Christie's handles everything from rare wines to jewelry, coins, and real estate.

The University College series, "Christie's Comes to Fairfield," will teach participants about the history of the auction house and offer a look at two very important upcoming auctions. Attendees will see and discuss exciting works of art and view the preparations underway for a major auction before getting the opportunity to do their own bidding at the auction itself. The lectures will provide a unique and exciting opportunity to sharpen connoisseurship skills and gain a better understanding of how to acquire works of art by bidding successfully at auction.

"Fairfield University is pleased to embark on this very prestigious endeavor with one of the world's leading resources for fine arts," said Philip Eliasoph, Ph.D., professor of art history at Fairfield University. "This educational partnership will provide participants with an inside look into the workings of one of the art world's premiere institutions where fair trade transactions are handled with scholarly research and the sheer excitement of passionate collectors seeking the 'best of the best.'"

Image: Véronique Chagnon-Burke The series can be purchased as a whole or participants can choose either of two packages: Impressionist and Modern Art, and American Paintings. Both of the packages include a kick-off lecture by Véronique Chagnon-Burke, Ph.D., director of Studies for Christie's Education in New York City. Chagnon-Burke will speak on Wednesday, Oct. 12, about the historical importance of the auction house as an institution and explain how it works today.

"I'll look at the importance of the auction house as a cultural institution; their role in shaping trends," Chagnon-Burke said, adding that she would also explain how quality, condition, provenance and other factors play in when determining the price of a piece.

Most of the media interest in Christie's takes place in November and May, when the auction house holds its most prestigious sales, generally of Impressionist and Modern and post-War and Contemporary works that cost a fortune and are purchased by the rich and famous, Chagnon-Burke said.

"People really associate the auction house with the world of celebrity and luxuries," Chagnon-Burke said. But Christie's is proactive about opening up the more affordable side of the business. Indeed, you don't have to be a millionaire to participate in an auction. Most of Christie's auctions are free and open to the public. And many of the lots being auctioned are within reach of those who are willing to spend a bit to get a one-of-a-kind treasure they will love. Among the items currently highlighted at Christie's are a 20th-century Chinese gilt and red-painted glass-inlaid mirror estimated at $600-$800 and a pair of Charles II style carved walnut and caned side chairs estimated at $800-1,000.

The Impressionist and Modern Art series then convenes on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Fairfield University for a discussion of artwork to be offered in a coming auction. On Wednesday, Oct. 26, the series travels to Christie's 20 Rockefeller Plaza offices in New York City, where participants will be able to view the artworks they had discussed. The last class in the series will take place on auction day. Participants can attend on either Tuesday, Nov. 1, or Wednesday, Nov. 2.

Participants in the American Painting series meet on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the University for their discussion, before their behind-the-scenes look on Tuesday, Nov. 29. Auction day at Christie's in this series is Thursday, Dec. 1.

"We are pleased to collaborate with Christie's on this exciting educational program that will enhance participants' knowledge of the art world, especially for those interested in starting or expanding their art collections," said Edna Farace Wilson, Ed.D., University College dean.

University College at Fairfield University is the gateway for individuals seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as professional certificate programs, study abroad and personal enrichment opportunities. With an emphasis on quality, convenience and flexibility, University College offers a wide variety of evening, day, online and weekend programs taught by a distinguished faculty. University College offers an enriching personal and powerful educational experience that is backed by the resources and reputation of a great Jesuit university. For program information e-mail or visit or call (203) 254-4184.

Posted On: 09-20-2005 10:09 AM

Volume: 38 Number: 21