A Collection of Impressionist Paintings Assembled by a Campbell’s-Soup Heir May Fetch Over $60 Million at Sotheby’s

The sale offers a sign that the market for masterpieces may be returning.

Paul Cezanne, Nature morte pommes et poires (Circa 1888-90). Image courtesy Sotheby's.
Paul Cezanne, Nature morte pommes et poires (Circa 1888-90). Image courtesy Sotheby's.

The top of the Impressionist and Modern market has been hit hard by lockdown. Our Spring 2021 Artnet Intelligence report found that while the art market has largely defied gloom and doom, auction sales of Imp-Mod works priced at $10 million and up shrank more than 40 percent in 2020.

Now, some clients—especially those facing large or complicated estate settlements—have no choice but to put their masterpieces on the auction block. And it’s possible the top end of the market is in for a recovery as a result.

Today, Sotheby’s announced the consignment of four major Impressionist paintings for its upcoming marquee evening sale on May 12. They include a rare still-life by Paul Cézanne, a dancer painting by Edgar Degas, and two classic paintings by Claude Monet. The combined estimate for the pieces, which hail from a single private collection, ranges $44 million to $64 million. The works will be offered without a financial guarantee.

Sources identified the consignor as the late Philadelphia philanthropist Tristram Colket, an heir to the Campbell Soup fortune who died last July. He was the grandson of John T. Dorrance, the inventor of condensed soup and founder of the Campbell Soup Company. Sotheby’s also sold Dorrance’s collection back in 1989.

A representative from Sotheby’s said the house does not comment on the identity of consignors.

“These are not your average Warhol Campbell soup can paintings,” said Thomas Danziger, an attorney and art law specialist who worked with the estate representatives. “These are rare, fresh-to-the-market Impressionist masterpieces.”

Edgar Degas, <i>Danseuse</i> (circa 1885-90) Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Edgar Degas, Danseuse (circa 1885-90) Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

The group of artworks is led by Cézanne’s still life of fruits, Nature morte pommes et poires (circa 1888–90), which is said to be the last of the series remaining in private hands. Fruit still-lives comprise nine of the top 10 auction prices for works by Cézanne, according to Artnet’s Price Database.

The painting, which is estimated at $25 million to $35 million, was first sold by the famous Paris dealer Ambroise Vollard, according to its published provenance. Colket owned it for nearly 20 years, having acquired it for $8.7 million at Sotheby’s in November 2003.

Claude Monet, La Seine à Lavacourt, Débâcle (1880). Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Claude Monet, La Seine à Lavacourt, Débâcle (1880). Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

A single ballerina depicted by Degas, Danseuse (circa 1885–90), which is estimated at $10 million to $15 million, was in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, for 70 years before it was deaccessioned via Sotheby’s. The consignor acquired it at that sale in May 2003 for $10.6 million.

Claude Monet, Fleurs dans un pot (Roses et brouillard) (1878). Image courtesy Sotheby's.

Claude Monet, Fleurs dans un pot (Roses et brouillard) (1878). Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

Meanwhile, Monet’s river scene, La Seine â Lavacourt, Débacle (1880), is estimated at $6 million to $8 million. It was acquired from Acquavella Galleries in 1997.

The final work, Monet’s Fleurs dans un pot (Roses et broulliard) (1878), carries an estimate of $4 million to $6 million and was last sold at Sotheby’s in 2002 for $3 million as part of the Ogden Phipps collection.


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