Sabina, who died in 1612, had made a bequest that ensured a motet would be sung in her memory every year on the feast day of St Sabina. It was to be performed in the Lutheran church of St Thomas in Leipzig, and as a later kapellmeister of that church, Bach undertook the task from 1726-49.
Examples of Bach’s autograph and signature are rarely seen – though this example was previously offered at Sotheby’s in 2003 where it was unsold in the room but later acquired in a private deal.
Other highlights of the RR sale that ran from January 14 to February 9 in Amherst, New Hampshire, included an enormous, lifetime collection of over 600 autograph albums, which realised $287,194 (£212,735).
They contained over 24,000 signatures, all of them obtained in person from the 1940s onwards by the late Charles Friereich.
Just one signature was the key to success for a lot that was bid to $50,419 (£37,345). This was a document in which Henry VIII orders “fyve brace of colers… fowre cheynes of the best and three leas[h]es” for his dogs, along with costumes for what were known as his royal leash boys.
In cataloguing this document – last seen at Bonhams in 2004, when it sold at a premium-inclusive £8604 – RR Auction quoted Alison Weir’s Henry VIII: The King and his Court of 2001. “Henry’s own dogs wore decorative collars of velvet – permitted only to royal dogs – and kid [leather], with or without torettes [spikes] of silver and gold; some were adorned with pearls or the king’s arms and his portcullis and rose badges… Sixty-five dog leashes were found in Henry’s closet after his death.”
* Prices noted here include a buyer’s premium of 20% and other charges.