This promised gift of 15 works of art from New York art collectors and philanthropists Julian (25 June, 1932 – 23 August, 2022) and Josie Robertson (16 May, 1943 – 8 June, 2010) to the Gallery through its Foundation, includes some of the major European artists of the modern era.
Dating from the late 19th to mid 20th centuries, its art historical and cultural value places the gift among the most generous philanthropic acts in New Zealand history.
The gift is drawn from a private collection that largely focuses on modernist works. While frequently called on to lend to art museums, this is the first time the Robertsons have gifted work. Selected by the Gallery's then director, Chris Saines, with assistance from Senior Curator Mackelvie Collection, International Art, Mary Kisler, the promised gift's effect will be far-reaching, transforming Auckland's ability to tell the story of modern art.
In 2006 we organised an exhibition of 12 works from the Julian and Josie Robertson collection. Six of those works are included in the gift. The overwhelming response to that exhibition, much of it from young visitors, had a profound and lasting effect on the Robertsons.
The Robertsons said, 'We have had a lifelong love affair with New Zealand. We love Auckland. And we love these pictures. That's why we were so pleased when we brought the works to New Zealand and New Zealanders seemed to enjoy them as much as we do. Frankly, bringing the pictures was probably the most appreciated thing we have ever done. We are delighted to be able to make this gift.'
We exhibited the Julian and Josie Robertson Promised Gift from 3 September to 30 October 2011 in celebration of the Gallery's reopening. The next time the Robertson gift will be seen in Auckland in its entirety is when the 15 works are finally settled on the Gallery under the terms of the deed of promised gift.