American family of collectors and patrons. In the second half of the 19th century John D(avison) Rockefeller sr (1839–1937) amassed a fortune through his company, Standard Oil, and other industries that placed him among the wealthiest of the pioneering American industrialists. Although he was noteworthy neither as a collector nor as a patron of art, he established a strong family tradition of public service and philanthropy, beginning with his son (1) John D. Rockefeller jr.
(b Cleveland, OH, Jan 29, 1874; d Tucson, AZ, May 11, 1960).
After graduating in 1897 from Brown University, Providence, RI, he worked with success in the family business; after World War I, however, he turned to directing his father’s philanthropic interests and to art collecting. He was particularly interested in polonaise carpets, medieval tapestries and decorative arts, and Chinese porcelains. In 1915 the Chinese porcelains of the late J. Pierpont Morgan were at auction. Rockefeller, interested though short of money, appealed to his father for assistance and convinced him of the life-enhancing quality of art and its role as a source of personal fulfilment, public education and leisure....