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Naumann & Barnet Collections drive day one of Sotheby's Masters Week series to $23 million
Giovanni Bilivert, Venus, Cupid and Pan, inscribed on the reverse in an old hand, possibly by the artist himself: originale di Giovanni Biliverti/ Fiorentino, oil on copper, 18 by 13 in.; 45.7 by 33 cm. Estimate $300/500,000. Sold for $ 879,000. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s annual Masters Week sales series kicked off on Wednesday in New York, with 210 paintings and drawings sold across three auctions for an overall total of $23 million – far exceeding their overall high estimate of $16.6 million. The day was highlighted by a magnificent collection of drawings assembled over 40 years by Howard & Saretta Barnet, as well as property emerging from the gallery and private collection of preeminent dealer Otto Naumann, both of which established multiple auction records and outstripped pre-sale expectations.

Below is a look at some of the highlights that drove the results of Wednesday’s auctions:

The Line of Beauty: Drawings from the Collection of Howard and Saretta Barnet
Auction Total: $11.6 Million

Gregory Rubinstein, Head of Sotheby’s Old Master Drawings Department, commented: “We are thrilled with the results achieved by the Barnet Collection, which presented collectors with the opportunity to acquire drawings of the highest quality and beauty. These results demonstrate the market’s understandable enthusiasm for museum-quality, fresh-to-market material, as was the case with the record-breaking Samuel Palmer drawing that led the auction. It’s incredibly rare for such a collection to appear at auction, and it’s been a joy to have worked on it from start to finish. Rarely, if ever, have I seen a more perfectly chosen collection, in any category.”

Assembled over some 40 years by the New York couple Howard and Saretta Barnet, this superb collection told the story of five centuries of the art of drawing in Western Europe. The auction’s total of $11.6 million far outstripped its high estimate of $7.2 million, demonstrating the exceptional quality, beauty and market appeal for the Barnets’ collection.

The dedicated sale was led by Samuel Palmer’s A Church With A Boat And Sheep from circa 1831, which achieved $2,.4 million – nearly seven times its high estimate of $350,000, and a new world auction record for the artist. Created during his fabled ‘Shoreham period’, the present work is an extremely fine example of Palmer’s monochrome drawings, with other such works housed in the collections of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, the Tate Britain and the British Museum in London.

Museum-quality works by Francisco José de Goya and Claude Lorrain also far-exceeded expectations. An intense, powerful, and self-contained image from one Goya’s extraordinary private albums of drawings, No Ilenas Tanto La Cesta (Don't Fill The Basket So Full) brought $2.1 million (estimate $1/1.5 million). The drawing stands as one of most important works by the artist to appear on the open market in recent years. The second lot of the sale, Lorrain’s atmospheric landscape The Valley Of The Aniene, Near Tivoli, With The Ruins Of The Aqua Anio Novus Aqueduct fetched $1.6 million (estimate $600/800,000). The work represents one of the finest and most significant drawings by the artist remaining in private hands, and has not been seen in public since it was exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, some 40 years ago

The Otto Naumann Sale
Auction Total: $6.2 Million

George Wachter, Chairman of Sotheby’s America and Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Worldwide, commented: “We were honored to work with Otto Naumann once again in presenting his distinguished selection of paintings. The tremendous success of tonight’s sale is a testament to Otto’s taste, sophistication and collaborative spirit, with top prices driven by private collectors from around the world who competed to own a piece of his vision.”

Wednesday’s auctions concluded with a dedicated evening sale of property from the gallery and private collection of Otto Naumann, the preeminent dealer of Old Master and 19th Century paintings who is regarded as one of the most respected figures in the international art scene. Offering a supreme assortment of Dutch, Flemish, Italian, Spanish and British paintings spanning the 16th through the 19th centuries, the auction totaled $6.2 million – surpassing its high estimate of $5.2 million.

The sale established new auction records for eight artists, including benchmark prices for James Drummond, Denys Calvaert and Giovanni Bilivert. Bilivert’s small-scale painting on copper Venus, Cupid and Pan led the sale, achieving $879,000 (estimate $300/500,000). With its highly-polished surface, the artist displays his superb sense of refinement in colors and skill in conveying different textures. Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida’s Viejo castellano sirviéndose vino (The Old Man of Castille) also exceeded pre-sale expectations, fetching a strong $627,000 against a high estimate of $300,000. One of a group of major life-sized figural compositions that the artist painted in 1907, the work demonstrates the artist’s interest in ethnography and variations in Spain’s regional dress, customs, and culture.

Old Master Drawings including the Collection of Professor Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann
Auction Total: $5.2 Million

The various-owner sale of Old Master Drawings was anchored by the collection of the late Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, the long-standing and much revered professor of the History of Art at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Haverkamp-Begemann was a highly important figure in the teaching and study of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish art, and drawings were always an integral part of his approach to teaching. The collection totaled $1.5 million – nearly double its high estimate – and was led by Karel van Mander the Elder’s The Repentance of Zacchaeus the Tax Collector, a beautifully-preserved example of late 16th-century Dutch Mannerist draughtsmanship that sold for $387,000 (estimate $60/80,000).

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