The estate of Reverend Peter J. Gomes will be auctioned by Grogan and Company Fine Art Auctioneers and Appraisers on Saturday, March 24. His personal collection includes fine art, antiques, and an extensive library from two residences: Sparks House, Cambridge and Oceanside, Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The openly gay Reverend Peter J. Gomes (1942 – 2011) was Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister of the Memorial Church at Harvard University, and has been described as one of the most distinguished Christian preachers in the history of the English-speaking pulpit. Born in Boston and raised in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Reverend Gomes was a man of many hats: pastor, professor, humanitarian, scholar, biblical interpreter, writer, collector, advisor, and friend. An avid reader and scholar, Gomes received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Bates College and a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Harvard Divinity School, as well as being the recipient of thirty-nine honorary degrees. He participated in the presidential inaugurations of Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush, has authored many books including the New York Times bestseller The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart (1996); The Good Life: Truths that Last in Times of Need (2002), and The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What’s so Good about the Good News? (2007). The Reverend Gomes was profiled by Robert Boynton in The New Yorker in November of 1996; described by Morley Safer in a 60 Minutes spot as “amongst one of the most important ecclesiastical voices in the country”; included in the premiere issue of Talk magazine as part of its feature article, "The Best Talkers in America: Fifty Big Mouths We Hope Will Never Shut Up”; and listed by Time Magazine in 1979 as “one of the seven most distinguished preachers in America.”
In 1974, Reverend Gomes was interviewing for his position at Harvard University, while, simultaneously, the University was advancing on plans to demolish Sparks house, a residence Gomes had long admired. As part of his negotiations, he stated “that [Sparks] house is as critical to the ministry as a laboratory is to a chemist.” Adorned in yellow walls, white woodwork, and institutional carpet when he moved in, Gomes transformed the 19th century residence into a feast for the eyes, reminiscent of the old Yankee homes he admired from his childhood. In an article written by Peter Gomes titled an “Unruly Passion for Things,” published in Every Room Tells a Story, Tales from the Pages of Nest Magazine, edited by Joseph Holtzman, Gomes describes the history and philosophy behind his passion for collecting. In a December 1997 article from House and Garden Magazine, titled “Master of the House,” Gomes says these words about collecting, “I’m not making a place for the ages but a place for me in my times. My theology is such, that I do believe that God is the author of beauty. It is not beauty that distracts us from the love of God. It is beauty that affirms the presence of god. This [collecting] is not the worship of the material. This is using the gifts of God for the people of God.”
Gomes “loved antiques, long, multi-course dinner parties with sparkling conversation, and rich old ladies,” recounted Governor Deval Patrick, in Gomes’ eulogy. “We listened to the music of his voice, his beautiful choice of words. We listened and we learned about life, faith, love, and loss, but mostly about how to be better people.”
For more information regarding the auction, please call the gallery at (781) 461-9500 or click here for a fully illustrated catalogue.