Cesare Barbieri (1878-1953), the Italian art investor and inventor of the Dixie Cup brand of disposable cups, bequeathed his extensive art collection, which includes a striking portrait of Gabrielle de Bourbon, to his nurse and companion, Anita De Paulis. The collection is to be offered from the De Paulis estate in Florida on February 10, following Anita's death in 2011.
Mary Down, co-owner of the auction house presiding over the sale, commented: "[Barbieri] bought the best of everything for his multiple residences, but he was also very generous towards others.
"His will provided for the establishment of a Dixie employee pension fund.
"He also helped to finance the post world war two reconstruction effort in his home town of Bologna, Italy."
Highlights of the Barbieri collection include a remarkably detailed 15th century work entitled Portrait of Gabrielle de Bourbon, which depicts the 26-year-old daughter of Louis I, Count of Montpensier. Produced by an unknown hand, it is expected to make $4,000-6,000.
A marble nude entitled The Flower of the Alps by Attilio Piccirilli (1886-1945), which is expected to achieve $10,000-15,000, will also feature. A comparable Piccirilli sculpture brought $12,000 to Sotheby's in December 2006, suggesting there is a healthy appetite for works by the Italian-born sculptor.
A number of eminent art collections are to auction over the coming months, including the Mark Birley Collection, which is scheduled to cross the block on March 21, and the Delphinium Collection - a dazzling array of rare Meissen porcelain, that is to sell at Bonhams on March 20.
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