The warm-up act didn't disappoint. Sotheby's 19th Century European Art auction, which took place just hours before the auction house's major impressionist sale in New York, saw some stunning results, including William Bouguereau's La branche de cerisier.
The 1881 work sold within estimate for $1.5m, a testament to the continuing attraction of the French artist at auction.
La branche de cerisier was one of a large number of Bouguereau works offered at yesterday's sale, showcasing all stages of his artistic career, from 1869 to 1901.
His La tasse de lait sold within estimate for $926,500, while Jeunes filles de fouesnant revenant du marche achieved $602,500.
It has been a strong year for Bouguereau.
In May his 1875 work L'Orientale a la grenade surpassed its estimate by 231.7% at Sotheby's, selling for $2.3m.
"Arguably the most influential French academic painter, Bouguereau… applied classical compositional tenets to his portraits and mythological, religious, and genre paintings," Heritage Auctions stated following the $1.8m sale of Fishing for Frogs in the same month.
Away from the Bouguereau pieces, Sir John Lavery's The Green Sofa excelled, surpassing its $1m high estimate with a $1.3m performance.
"In times when interest rates are not huge, people are turning to something beautiful in their house that may also hold value," Christie's deputy chair of impressionist and modern art, Conor Jordan, told the Independent newspaper following the auction house's sale on Wednesday.
View the pieces of art you can add to your collection today courtesy of Paul Fraser Collectibles.