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Famous opera singer's collection at Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale
Clair de Lune by Claude Vernet. Estimate: £100,000-150,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Clair de Lune, by the French 18th century painter Claude Vernet, is one of a number of works from the collection of the great Bulgarian opera singer, Boris Christoff, to be offered at Bonhams Old Master Paintings sale in London on Wednesday 6 December. It is estimated at £100,000-150,000.

Christoff was known for his majestic bass voice – and for his fiery temperament. He fell out with Herbert von Karajan, refused to sing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, was sacked by La Scala in Milan, and his rows with Maria Callas - no slouch herself when it came to standing her ground - were legendary.

Proceeds from the sale will help the work of the Fondazione Boris Christoff, which was established by a bequest from the singer’s widow.. The Fondazione which is based in Rome, supports the professional development of young singers and musicians, and encourages cultural exchange between Italy and Bulgaria.

Other works in the sale from the Christoff collection, include:

• A harbour with figures in the quayside in the foreground and ships at anchor in the bay beyond by Johann Anton Eismann (1604-1698). Estimate: £50,000-70,000

• A capriccio of Roman ruins with the Apollo Belvedere and the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius by an English follower of Giovanni Paolo Panini (1692-1765). Estimate: £30,000-50,000

• The Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist attributed to Nicola Pisano (1470-1538). Estimate: £15,000-20,000

Bonhams Old Master Paintings specialist, Lisa Greaves said: “Boris Christoff had a keen eye for art and built up a fine collection of paintings. Clair de Lune is a perfect example of a characteristic Vernet subject, and shows the artist’s mastery of nocturnal light for which he became best known.”

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