Master Paintings
Live Auction: 14 October 2020 • 9:30 AM EDT • New York

Master Paintings 14 October 2020 • 9:30 AM EDT • New York

T his fall season in New York we are pleased to present an additional opportunity to engage with an exciting array of Old Master Paintings spanning various collecting genres. Bernardo Bellotto’ s Architectural capriccio, sold to benefit the acquisition fund of the San Diego Museum of Art, is a featured highlight of the sale combining both realistic and imaginary elements in a detailed, inventive architectural fantasy. Other highlights include a stunning group of Baroque paintings assembled as part of a distinguished private collection in Washington, D.C. The group is comprised of works that are impressive in both size and quality. Among the paintings on offer from the diverse collection of celebrated art historian and Picasso biographer, Sir John Richardson, is an active scene by Antonio Joli depicting Samson destroying the Philistine Temple of Dagan. We are also honored to offer a group of three works from the collection of preeminent American museum professional Kenneth Donahue, including a prime version of a mythological composition by Hans Rottenhammer the Elder executed in copper. In addition to Dutch and Flemish scenes, British portraiture, and a variety of French paintings, the sale also includes early works such as a beautiful cassone panel by Apollonio di Giovanni, and a pair of roundels by The Master of the Arma Christi of San Lorenzo.

Visit the Exhibition

Following the guidelines for the Phase Four reopening of Manhattan, we are able to accommodate clients in our building by appointment only. The exhibition for this sale will open on 9 October and will close on 13 October at 5PM EDT. To schedule an appointment please click here or contact or +1 212 606 7171. You can read more about our safety requirements here.

Auction Highlights

Property Sold to Benefit the Acquisition Fund of the San Diego Museum of Art
Architectural capriccio with a palace beside a moat and figures in the foreground
Estimate: $700,00 - 900,000

View Lot

Early Italian Works: Property of a Private Collector

Property from a Distinguished Private Collection, Washington, D.C.

This collection of magnificent Baroque paintings was carefully assembled by an American couple over the past three decades. The collectors were exposed to the Old Masters through their European travels from a young age and began their collecting adventure by acquiring Renaissance bronzes. Upon moving into their stunning Beaux-Arts townhouse in Washington, D.C. in 1988, they realized that the proportions of the rooms demanded much larger, more substantial paintings than those one associates with the Renaissance; it was then that they turned their eye to the drama of the Baroque and became captivated by it. Seeking only the highest quality, they often found that the very best paintings on the market were those by lesser- known masters like Giovanni Battista Cipriani or Cornelis Schut. Through their relationship with the curators at the National Gallery of Art, to which they kindly gifted a powerful painting by Louis Vallée, they developed a keen eye for condition, often finding impressive examples of paintings still unlined with beautifully fresh layers of paint. The group of paintings offered here, which includes an important composition by Sebastiano Ricci of the Last Supper and two elegant works by Marcantonio Franceschini, is only one aspect of their collection: the sculpture and furniture that accompanied the paintings in their home presented a tasteful and resplendent harmony of Baroque drama and exquisite beauty.


When he passed away last year at age 95, the celebrated art historian and Pablo Picasso biographer Sir John Richardson left behind a lifetime’s worth of art and objects. While Richardson acquired many of the works over the course of his varied career or on his travels, many others were treasured gifts from the countless artists he called friends. Sotheby’s is honored to present Richardson’s storied collection, unparalleled in its style, taste and significance, which counts among its many highlights important works by Old Masters, modern masterworks by Pavel Tchelitchew and Picasso, and contemporary artworks by Lucian Freud and Ugo Rondinone. All were purposefully exhibited in the rich, eclectic homes of Mr. Richardson, often with personal inscriptions from the artists themselves.

Property of the Family of Kenneth Donahue
Image of Kenneth Donahue, courtesy of the Donahue Family

The following three lots are being sold by the descendants of Kenneth
Donahue, one of the preeminent American museum professionals of the 20th century. Donahue collected art throughout his career, and these
works are representative of his varied interests within the scope of Old Master Paintings. Donahue served as the second Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), from 1966-1979. Donahue received degrees from the University of Louisville in political science and public administration, and began his career as art librarian at the university in 1936. He moved to New York as a staff lecturer at the Museum of Modern Art in 1938. Donahue later studied at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University between 1946-1947, studying under the eminent art historians Richard Offner and Walter Friedländer. Donahue joined the Frick Collection in New York as a lecturer and curatorial assistant in 1949. He was named curator of the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL in 1953, working under A. Everett “Chick” Austin, later succeeding Austin as director in 1957. Donahue later became deputy director of the recently established LACMA under Richard Brown in 1964, and two years later became acting director and then director. He served as vice-president of the American Council of Museums from 1969 until 1972 and vice president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, 1971-1972. During his tenure as Director, the museum purchased numerous important Old Master Paintings, including those by Georges del la Tour, Frans Hals, and Guido Reni.

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