Comprising more than 40 lots from the legendary artist's studio, housed in the historic Gainsborough on Central Park South, the Collection boasts superb works of art from cultures around the globe including the Eskimo, Tlingit, Hopi and Kuba.
Leading the selection of works on offer is a rare and important Eskimo mask, Yup'ik or Anvik. The mask would have likely been used for festival dancing and shamanistic activities, however its specific meaning remains an enigma, the mystery of which is part of the strong attraction Donati and Surrealist compatriots had for Eskimo art in the middle of the 20th Century. The mask is a powerful sculpture and the first of its kind ever to appear at auction.
The Donati Collection features an unusual breadth of early and important Hopi kachina dolls. The Hopi recognize several hundred Kachinas which are supernatural beings, or spirits, once of this world, who now live in the Hopi 'underworld' with the ancestors of the Hopi deep within the San Francisco mountains southwest of the Hopi Mesas.
A highlight of the Donati Collection is the Snake Priest kachina which first appeared in the late 1800s, probably to satisfy the desires of Euro-Americans who "discovered" the Hopi Snake Dance ceremony in the late 1870s. Colorful descriptions of the ceremonies were written and tourists, as well as eminent anthropologists and academics of the day, flocked to Hopi. This doll perfectly captures the danger and mystery of this ceremony which can no longer be viewed by outsiders.
It's a privilege for Sotheby's to offer this distinguished and important collection of the last living Surrealist, Enrico Donati.