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Sotheby's to Sell Property from the Legendary Collections of Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
Wassily Kandinsky, Krass und Mild (Dramatic and Mild), 1932, est. $6/8 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- During the fall 2009 and winter 2010 auction seasons Sotheby's in New York will present works from the collections of renowned philanthropist and patron of the arts Dr. Arthur M. Sackler. The offering of several hundred objects from Dr. Sackler's collections comprises important Impressionist and Modern paintings, Chinese Furniture, Asian Carpets, English Furniture, Antiquities, Pre Columbian Art, Old Master Drawings and European terracottas and bronzes. Together the group is estimated to bring more than $15 million.

Six works will be offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in November including Wassily Kandinsky's stunning Krass und Mild (Dramatic and Mild) from 1932 (est. $6/8 million). Among the other highlights is Dr. Sackler's renowned collection of European terracottas - the most extensive of its kind remaining in private hands. Fine Chinese Furniture and Asian Carpets will be the first group of property offered, highlighting Sotheby's Asia Week sales in September. Works from Dr. Sackler's collections will be exhibited in Sotheby's 10th floor galleries from July 27-August 21, 2009, excluding weekends.

Dr. Arthur M. Sackler
Dr. Sackler was one of America's foremost collectors, whose passion for objects transcended any one collecting category or time period, featuring outstanding examples of ancient art of many cultures, as well as European sculpture, furniture, and paintings from the Renaissance to the modern era. Dr. Sackler's passion for collecting was matched only by his generosity, gifting objects and endowing galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Princeton and Columbia Universities, the Smithsonian, and the Royal Academy in London, in addition to establishing museums at Harvard and Beijing Universities.

Fine Chinese Furniture, Rugs and Works of Art from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections - September 16, 2009 Leading off the sales of property from Dr. Sackler’s collections is a diverse group of Chinese Furniture, mostly huanghuali wood and dating to the 17th and 18th centuries – late Ming and early Qing dynasties. Among the highlights is a Rare Pair of Huanghuali Compound Cabinets with Hat Chests and Two-Drawer Bases, 17th / 18th century (est. $120/180,000). Three-part cabinets of this size and quality were reserved only for the wealthiest and most prominent families, and their rarity is enhanced by the fact that very few sets have survived together into modern times. Each component features matching aprons and feet, features that are extremely fine and rare for compound furniture of this type. Among the extensive selection of furniture in the Sackler furniture group are a Huanghuali Daybed, 17th century, (est. $80/120,000); and a Pair of Huanghuali Yokeback Armchairs, 17th century, (est. $60/80,000).

Dr. Sackler’s collections also includes 50 rugs and carpets of predominantly Chinese and East Turkestan origin, with a few tribal weavings such as the faces of storage bags woven by nomads who roamed the Southern Caucasus area. Most of the Chinese carpets originate in the Western Chinese province of Ningxia, a major rug producing center since the 15th century. Characterized by their distinctive color palette of soft yellows, terracottas, blues and ivory, these rugs also employ Chinese symbols as design motifs such as lion dogs, butterflies, and dragons that would compliment the other furnishings in the domestic interiors and temples for which these were created. The pieces range in size from small seat mats and backs measuring 2ft. by 2ft. to larger carpets such as the dapple-fielded Ninghsia Audience Carpet, 10’2” x 9’2” (est. $15/20,000) and a handsome early 19th century square Ninghsia carpet, 14’9” x 14’6” (est. $25/35,000). There are also carpets of unusual dimensions including the Ninghsia banner carpet that measures 27’ x 4’5’ (est. $8/12,000) and a very long, narrow Ningshia runner, 16’9” x 2’2” (est. $7/10,000).

Impressionist and Modern Art, Evening – November 4, 2009
Sotheby's November sales of Impressionist and Modern Art will include eleven works from Dr. Sackler's collections. Among those to be presented in the Evening Sale on November 4th is a monumental work by Wassily Kandinsky, Krass und Mild (Dramatic and Mild), one of the greatest Bauhaus-period works to have appeared at auction in years. (est. $6/8 million). Painted in May 1932, during Kandinsky's final months at the Bauhaus, the canvas is a visual symphony of geometry and color. The provocative title for this picture, also known as Drastic and Mild, evokes the powerful forces at play during the era in which it was created. Kandinsky painted this work in the spring of 1932, only months before the National Socialists closed the Bauhaus headquarters in Dessau. Krass und Mild was purchased by Dr. Sackler in Sotheby's historic sale of Fifty Paintings by Wassily Kandinsky from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 1964. The appearance of Krass und Mild on the market is particularly timely given the recent revival of interest in Kandinsky as a pivotal artist, evidenced by major shows in London, Paris and in New York this fall. Works by Edgar Degas and Pierre Bonnard will also be included in the Evening Sale. Five works will be offered the following day including Gustave Caillebotte's Landscape with Aqueduct (est. $400/600,000).

Important European Terracotta and Bronze Sculpture from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections - January 28, 2010
The offerings of property from Dr. Sackler’s collections also include approximately 150 European terracottas and bronzes. His collection of European terracottas is the most extensive of its kind remaining in private hands, distinguished by its breadth and depth. The appearance of the collection on the market presents an extremely exciting opportunity for sculpture connoisseurs and new collectors to experience the sculptor’s process. Celebrated by scholars, works from the collection have been exhibited at museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among the highlights that will be offered in a single owner sale next year is a French Terracotta Figure of Phryne Emerging from her Bath by Joseph Chinard (est. $200/400,000). Joseph Chinard (1755-1813) was a leading sculptor of the French Empire and a favorite of the Bonaparte family. He showed this sensual and elegant work at the Salon of 1810, titling it Phriné sortant du bain. Phryne, the Athenian courtesan of the fourth century B.C., was renowned for her extraordinary beauty and is said to have been the inspiration for many great works of ancient painting and sculpture. Her classically flowing robes and the urn by her side reflect the dominant Neoclassical taste of the period.

Dr. Sackler’s collections also include a wonderful variety of bronzes representing many of the major production centers in Europe. Among the highlights is a group of Italian bronzes from the Baroque period including sculptures from the workshops of Alessandro Algardi, Giuseppe Piamontini and Francesco Bertos. Piamontini’s Pair of Bronze Figures of Pan and Syrinx, which are apparently the only known casts, illustrates a story from Ovid’s 'Metamorphoses' (I, 793-820) (est. $150/250,000). The nymph Syrinx was pursued by the amorous Pan as far as the river Ladon, where she begged her sisters of the river to help her. Thinking that he had caught Syrinx, Pan clasped at her, but the river nymphs changed Syrinx into the reeds growing on the river bank, from which he later made his pipes. With superbly brushed and tooled surfaces, varied chasing, and rich patina, they are notable examples of Piamontini’s oeuvre and are consistent with his work in Florence around 1700.

Sotheby's | Dr. Arthur M. Sackler | Wassily Kandinsky | Asian Carpets | Metropolitan Museum of Art | Princeton University | Columbia University | Smithsonian | Royal Academy | London |

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July 25, 2009

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