News-Antique.com - Jan 31,2013 - ST. PETERSBURG, FL – It was an elegantly simple but universally embraced paper container – the cone-shape Dixie Cup – that enabled millionaire inventor and philanthropist Cesare Barbieri to amass the spectacular collection of European paintings, bronzes, Asian art and Oriental rugs featured in Myers Fine Art’s Feb. 10 auction.
The Italian-born Barbieri (1878-1956) held more than 100 patents, including one issued in 1926 for conical Dixie Cups and the machinery that manufactured them. He also possessed a finely tuned eye for classical art and design.
“He bought the best of everything for his multiple residences, but he was also very generous toward others,” said Myers co-owner Mary Dowd. “His will provided for the establishment of a Dixie employee pension fund, and his Dixie Cup royalties funded an endowment for Italian cultural studies at Trinity College that continues to this day. He also helped to finance the post-World War II reconstruction effort in his hometown of Bologna, Italy.”
Barbieri’s largesse extended to those who cared for him in his declining years, in particular his nurse and companion Anita De Paulis. Barbieri bequeathed to De Paulis the entire contents of both his lavish Manhattan apartment and Villa Barbieri, his estate in Tuxedo Park, N.Y. De Paulis retired to a town near Sarasota, Fla., and after her death in 2011, Myers acquired the Barbieri collection directly from the De Paulis Estate.
Myers has a policy of only conducting a European & Asian Art auction when a collection of exceptional quality is available to headline such a sale. The 480-lot Feb. 10 event is the first of its type to be scheduled in two years and consists of fresh goods acquired almost exclusively from estates.
The featured Barbieri collection includes magnificent paintings, bronzes, antique clocks, Oriental rugs, furniture and carved ivories. Among the top pieces is a graceful marble nude titled “The Flower of the Alps,” by Attilio Piccirilli (Italian, 1886-1945). A similar Piccirilli sold a few years ago at Sotheby’s for $19,000. Myers Fine Art has placed an estimate of $10,000-$15,000 on the signed Piccirilli in their sale. A signed Giuseppe Gambogi (Italian, 1891-1965) statue of Shakespeare’s “Ophelia” carries an estimate of $8,000-$10,000.
An extraordinary artwork from Villa Barbieri, “Portrait of Gabrielle de Bourbon,” depicts the 26-year-old daughter of Louis I, Count of Montpensier, a direct descendant of Saint Louis (1214-1270). The richly detailed portrait, created possibly as early as the 15th century, exhibits an extremely high standard of artistry, evident by the level of detail in the sitter’s ornately embroidered silk dress and ermine-trimmed robe. A gold figural pendant adorns her pearl-trimmed bodice, and pearls embellish her Renaissance cap. The 17 by 12½-inch painting is presented in an elaborate gilt tabernacle frame from the late-18th or early 19th century. It is expected to make $4,000-$6,000.
Other Continental artworks in the sale include an 18th/19th-century French portrait of a lady holding a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a Charles Cousin (French, 1904-1972) Venetian canal scene, and a J. Eisenhut oil painting of a