An Irving Chemical Mogul's Wives Shaped His Art Collection That's Now Up for Auction

How do art collections come together? Sometimes, it depends on who you marry.Take the late Irvin Levy, who with his brothers ran NCH Corp., an Irving-based industrial chemicals company his father founded in 1919. Sotheby's will offer 11 works from his collection estimated at more than $22 million next month in New York.The group comprises two distinct artistic periods: Impressionist and contemporary. Each can be traced to a woman in his life.Levy's initial interest in art was spurred by his first wife Meryl. The couple started buying Impressionist and modern art in the 1970s, gradually filling their antebellum-style Dallas home with paintings by Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard. They traveled regularly to France, befriending prominent art dealer Philippe Brame. They also became supporters of the Dallas Museum of Art, where Irvin served as a board member, chairman or president for 40 years.Among the works Levy acquired with Meryl is Gustave Caillebotte's "La Rue Halevy, vue du sixieme etage," an 1878 urban landscape depicting a Parisian street from an elevated perspective. It's estimated at $6 million to $8 million.Gauguin's "Chemin sous les palmiers" depicts a tropical paradise, painted partly during the artist's trip to Martinique in 1887. The estimate also is $6 million to $8 million.Two years after Meryl's death in 1989, Levy met Joan Schnitzer, who would become his second wife. As they traveled to New York and Art Basel, they started acquiring contemporary art."We bought what we liked," Schnitzer said in an interview Thursday. "We both liked the same things. We had such fun doing it."  Continue reading...

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