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Christie's to offer a spectacular selection of paintings and works of art in its Russian Art sale
Ilya Mashkov (1881-1944), Still life with fruit, signed in Cyrillic and dated 'Ilia/Mashkov/1910.-IX' (upper left), further signed 'Ilia Machkoff' (lower right); further signed, inscribed and with number 'I. Machkoff/Nature [...]/N. 10' (on the reverse), oil on canvas, 40½ x 52 5/8 in. (103 x 133.8 cm.). Estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.

LONDON.- Confirming its position as the auction house specialising in Russian masterpieces, Christie’s will offer a spectacular selection of paintings and works of art in its Russian Art sale, which will be held in London on 3 June 2013. This summer auction will present an impressive array of paintings, ranging from avant-garde masterpieces to unique works, offered directly from the families of the artists, including Chekhonin, Iakunchikova, Indenbaum and Masterkova. With the majority of lots from private sources and many with prestigious provenance, the sale comprises works that will undoubtedly excite the discerning collector. This season features a particularly strong selection of Russian works of art, including an extremely rare and beautiful majolica sculpture by Mikhail Vrubel, which exemplifies the artist’s sophisticated interpretation of the Russian Arts & Crafts movement (estimate: £150,000-200,000); a monumental bronze group of Cossack foragers cast by Shtange after the model by Evgenii Lanceray (estimate: £120,000-180,000); decorative and functional pieces by Fabergé, as well as an important groups of Soviet and Yusupov porcelain. With over 280 lots ranging from £2,000 to £1,500,000, the focus of the sale is on quality, rarity and the exceptional.

The preeminent highlight of the sale is Ilya Mashkov’s (1881-1944) masterwork, Still life with fruit, a newly-discovered and exceptionally rare painting that appears on the international market for the first time (estimate: £1,000,000 – 1,500,000.

Alongside the Mashkov, Christie’s will offer the vibrant Still life with Oranges and Radishes, painted in 1934 by one of the most popular Russian avant-garde artists of the 20th century, Petr Konchalovsky (estimate: £250,000-350,000). In both palette and subject matter, the influence of Cézanne and his contemporaries is unmistakable; however, Konchalovsky’s handling of surface texture and pattern is unique.

Painted in northern India, the magnificent Sanctuaries and Citadels, 1925, by renowned painter, archaeologist and philosopher Nicholas Roerich (1874–1947) is a work with excellent provenance, formerly in the collection of Roerich’s foremost patron, Louis Horch (estimate: £500,000-700,000). Further highlights with distinguished provenance include 10 attractively priced lots from the collection of the family of Maria Iakunchikova (1870–1902), represented here by a wall hanging after a design by the artist (estimate: £6,000-8,000).

Following on from the historic sale of Portrait of Natalia Podbelskaya for £2 million in November last year, this season Christie’s will offer Portrait of Kate, 1926, by Russian-American painter Nicolai Fechin (1881-1955), protégé of Russian master Ilya Repin (estimate: £250,000-350,000). The sitter’s relatively formal pose and elegant positioning of her hands is contrasted by the artist’s free and energetic application of paint, lending the work a vivacity which only serves to complement Kate’s playful expression. The portrait exemplifies Fechin’s achievements in female portraiture which have recently gained recognition in the international marketplace.

The works of art in the sale are highlighted by an exceptionally rare and large jeweled two-colour gold-mounted purpurine box that was purchased by Lady Paget from Fabergé’s London branch in 1915. This elegant box is by far the largest purpurine work by Fabergé to appear on the market in over three decades (estimate: £150,000-200,000). Over thirty further works by Fabergé include an important group of silver animals from the collection of a nobleman, unseen on the market for decades, and including a bell-push designed as a seated dog and three table lighters, which have been designed as two elephants and a monkey (estimates from: £30,000-60,000); and a finely chased, impressively large silver kovsh, formerly in the Armand Hammer Collection (estimate: £60,000-80,000). The sale also includes a strong group of Fabergé and Rückert enamels, all offered from an Important Private European Collection (estimates from £4,000-80,000). Further highlights of this section of the sale include an exceptional and rare group of Soviet porcelain by the State Porcelain Factory, Petrograd, 1919-1922 (estimates from £4,000-18,000). Appearing at auction for the first time, this group of 12 porcelain figures and plates was acquired in the early 1920s by an active socialist, Tallis Augustus Avis (1886-1966), during a sale held to raise funds for Russia following the famine of 1921. Popular among collectors, these include rare designs by Natalya Danko and Sergei Chekhonin. The sale also includes an important group of Lanceray bronzes, offered from a Distinguished New York Private Collection, Part I. Part II of this magnificent bronze collection will be a highlight of Christie's 25 November sale of Russian Art

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