Sotheby’s is delighted to announce that we will present Property from the Estate of Mary Sayles Booker Bragain a dedicated auction on 19 & 20 October 2015 in New York. The sale will offer fine art, furniture and decorative art from Mrs. Braga’s ‘Oakendale’ estate in the heart of Virginia horse country. The elegance of both the home and its contents reflects her passions for the equestrian lifestyle of Virginia as well as the English country house.
Born in New York City in 1921, Mrs. Braga enthusiastically embraced the equestrian lifestyle while attending Foxcroft School near Middleburg, Virginia. She married B. Rionda Braga, the sugar magnate whose family business was at one time the largest private grower of Cuban sugar in the Western world. The couple spent significant time together in Europe, where Mrs. Braga came to appreciate the aesthetic of the English country home. On her husband’s death in 1986, Mrs. Braga purchased the ‘Oakendale’ estate near Middleburg, and moved to Virginia for the remainder of her life.
Mrs. Braga was a disciplined collector throughout her life, and purchased fine art and furniture from leading dealers in both London and New York, such as Mallett, Agnew’s, and Tryon Gallery. The October sale encompasses her impressive selection of paintings and drawings, spanning from 17th century English landscapes through to 20th century portraiture, as well as a significant selection of English furniture, English yellow-ground porcelain, and more.
Fine art from the collection reflects Mrs. Braga’s connoisseurship – from a bronze by Degas to a study by Jean Leon Gérôme. Twentieth Century British artist Sir Alfred Munnings is represented by three works, including the pastoral scene By Himself (estimate $70/90,000). Works by Aaron Shikler hung side-by-side with paintings by Sir George Clausen and Victoria Dubourg – wife of Henri Fantin-Latour. Mrs. Braga frequented the New York gallery Mark Brady Inc. where she purchased many Old Master and 19th Century drawings as well as 20th Century works by contemporary artists Simon Parkes and Marc de Montebello. She became friends with and a patron of Julian Barrow, who brilliantly painted interiors and landscapes of her homes.