The two day Russian Art sale at Christies
realized a total of £8,889,025 / $14,746,892 and was sold 82% by value and 70% by lot overall. The sale was highlighted by Nicholas Roerichs (1874-1947) painting "Legend, From the Series Messiah", painted in 1923 which sold for £993,250 / $1,647,802. A solid sell-through-rate of 80% for the picture section confirmed Christies dominance in this market.
Further observations made throughout the two-day-sale were:
Fabergé was in high demand, especially rare works and those with distinguished provenance. A jewelled gold and guilloche enamel snuff box (lot 38) sold for £253,250, more than four times its low pre-sale estimate. Another jewelled gold-mounted cigarette case (lot 39), originally purchased by Lady Arthur Paget, Fabergés early and influential patron in London, sold for £193,250, nearly five times its lower pre-sale estimate.
Significant interest was seen for fine porcelain by the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St Petersburg. A large two-handled Porcelain Vase (lot 125), dated 1854 and painted with a portrait after the Russian artist Pimen Orlov, realized £361,250, doubling its pre-sale estimate by far. Lot 342, another large two-handled porcelain vase, painted after a lost painting by Philips Wouwerman, sold for £337,250, again doubling its pre-sale estimate.
There was sustained interest in traditional collecting areas including objects with recognisable cultural symbols. The collection of porcelain military plates particular exceeded their estimates. The group of 10 plates sold 100% and was led by lot 340, selling for £43,250. Dinner plates from the services of the order of St Andrews, the Alexander Nevskii order service and the order of St Vladimir were very sought after.
The life of the Imperial Family taken in photographs was in high demand. Out of the 20 lots of Imperial photographs 19 sold, achieving up to five times their pre-sale estimates one example is lot 363, depicting Emperor Nicholas II and his family which sold for £25,000. Many of the photographs which comprised this lot were signed by the Emperor or the Empress.
World-renowned artists from the Russian canon continue to perform well at auction. Works by Ivan Pokhitonov, Nicholas Roerich, Zinaida Serebriakova, Konstantin Korovin, Filipp Maliavin, for whom a new world record at auction was established and Ilya Repin, all sold far above their respective estimates.
The room responded positively to the well-selected group of works presented in the auction, largely sourced privately throughout Europe and the US. A good example is lot 406, Hunting for Boar, by Vasily Perov, selling for £157,250. Works by the artist very rarely appear at auction and when they do they attract strong interest.
Encouraging estimates resulted in active international bidding in the saleroom, via the internet (Christies Live) and by telephone. The picture section of Christies Russian sale achieved the highest sale rate of the week: 80%.