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Rare Early Work By Kandinsky To Be Sold By Bonhams in London
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Au bord de la mer is expected to fetch £100,000-150,000 at Bonhams’ Russian Sale on 24 November 2008. Photo: Courtesy Bonhams.

LONDON.- A rare and charming painting by one of the 20th century’s most famous modern abstract painters, Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), has surfaced at auction in London for the first time in years, after spending decades in a private collection. Lot 35 - “Au bord de la mer” - is expected to fetch £100,000-150,000 at Bonhams’ Russian Sale on 24 November 2008.

The painting could not be more different from the abstract stylised pictures, which made the artist so famous, and it is one of his most important early works on paper. The 29cm x 29cm painting in tempera depicts a young woman dressed in a yellow dress and scarlet shawl sitting on a bench by the sea. Figures can be seen in the background strolling along the beach while yachts sail across the blue sea in the distance.

“Au bord de la mer” was exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in Paris in 1904. Latterly, it was exhibited in many galleries in the Soviet Union when it belonged to the known Russian collector Yakov Rubenstein.

Almost 250 lots of pictures and works of art, spanning the 19th century through to the present day, worth over £5-million have been amassed by Bonhams for its Russian Sale on 24 November. The auction will present Imperial treasures by Fabergé, 19th century paintings by Alexei Harlamoff and Vladimir Makovsky, avant-garde works by Alexandra Exter, Natalia Goncharova, Marianna Verevkina and Alexander Archipenko, and post war art by Oleg Tselkov, Vladimir Nemukhin, Shimon Okshteyn, Sergei Volkov and Konstantin Zvezdochetov

“Classical refrain; Seven against Thebes” is a magnificent oil on canvas work by Alexandra Exter (1884-1949) and is expected to fetch £600,000-800,000. One of the ‘Russian Amazons’ of avant-garde art, Exter chose to celebrate classical antiquity with this work, Lot 72, dedicating it to Aeschylus’s tragic play of 467 BC – a powerful account of the internecine war between the sons of Oedipus, Polynices and Eteocles, who held the throne of Thebes. After a lengthy battle, the two brothers slaughter each other, simultaneously extinguishing the Theban line.

A wintry scene by Russia’s top-selling female artist, Natalia Goncharova (1881-1962), can also be found in the sale. Lot 40 - “Winter: the wood gatherer” - is estimated at £150,000-200,000.

Other avant-garde artists’ work can be seen in Lot 90 – a dramatic watercolour, gouache and pastel on paper work “Fishermen” by Marianna Vladimirovna Verevkina (1860-1938), which is estimated at £100,000-150,000 – and Lot 69 – a painting in oil by Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964). The picture of a naked female body, titled “Torse” is undated, but Bonhams’ specialists believe that the artist painted it in the latter part of the 1930s. It is expected to fetch £200,000-300,000.

Two beautiful works by Alexei Harlamoff (1840-1925) – Lots 9 and 12 – both depict young girls and are estimated at £350,000-500,000 and £250,000-350,000 respectively. Both lots portray young girls with fruit depicting the simple delicacy of youth. Lot 9, “Choosing apples”, portrays two young girls in their underclothes holding red apples – one of them is seated with the fruit in her lap, while the other younger girl stands beside her holding an apple up to her pink cheek. Lot 12 depicts a young girl gazing into space while cradling a basket of grapes in her lap.

Paintings depicting country pursuits include Lot 8 – “A pleasure shared” by Vladimir Makovsky (1846-1920) showing an old lady and her grand-daughter feeding the chickens and birds in a countryside garden. It is estimated £60,000-100,000. Lot 22 by Nikolai Petrovich Bogdanov-Bel’sky (1868-1945) portrays a group of boys fishing in the river from a wooden jetty. Its estimate is £120,000-150,000.

Post-war and contemporary works can be found in the sale, including three Lots 103, 107 and 114 by Oleg Tselkov (born 1934), Lot 104 by Vladimir Nemukhin (born 1925), Lots 123 and 125 by Shimon Okshteyn (born 1951), Lots 126 and 129 by Sergei Volkov (born 1956) and Lot 130 by Konstantin Zcezdocetov (born 1958).

A number of beautiful items by Russian jeweller to the Tsars, Carl Fabergé, can also be found in the sale including Lot 195 – a gold, silver-gilt and enamel clock estimated at £280,000-320,000 and Lot 205 – a gold, silver gilt and nephrite frame, estimated at £70,000-80,000.

For further information on the above Lots or other items in Bonhams’ Russian Sale, please go to

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