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Important Works by Russian Masters and Fabergé to Be Offered at Christie's
Mikhail Klodt, "A Riverside Farm", 1858. Estimate: £700,000-900,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010.

LONDON.- Christie’s mid-season Russian Art sale on 8 June will offer a strong section of more than 60 lots of Fabergé, including a private collection of 45 lots from a European Royal Family. Highlights of this fine and distinguished Royal collection include a two-colour gold-mounted nephrite table clock, with Henrik Wigström (estimate £80,000- 120,000) as well as a very rare miniature kovsh, which was supplied to the Imperial cabinet on 21 May 1909 and acquired by Emperor Nicholas II as a presentation gift (estimate: £8,000-12,000).

The picture section of the sale is led by Mikhail Klodt’s Riverside Farm, painted in 1858, a rare masterpiece by one of Russia’s greatest landscape artists (estimate: £700,000-900,000). It is likely that Klodt, confident that this singular work was of sufficient calibre to showcase his talent, selected the painting for submission as his graduation piece from the St Petersburg Academy of Arts for which he was awarded a gold medal of the first class and a significant travel bursary allowing him to spend the next three years studying and working in France, Germany and Switzerland.

Russian man by Boris Grigoriev was painted in 1920, whilst the artist was living in Berlin (estimate: £400,000-600,000). This work is part of Grigoriev’s highly acclaimed series “Faces of Russia”. Paintings from this series are represented in collections worldwide, including the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, the Prague National Gallery and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Russian man is a tribute to the artist’s homeland and to the Russian people.

Zinaida Serebriakova’s beautiful Reclining nude, executed in 1930, is a superb example of the deeply sensual nudes for which the artist is revered (estimate: £400,000-600,000). It has been suggested that the sitter for this work may be Mlle. Marie Evreinoff, a friend of the family who regularly posed for Serebriakova. The viewer is at the feet of the model and her expression is peaceful yet playful. The influence of the Italian Renaissance painters with their heady emphasis on the beauty of form is evident, while the draped textiles and beautifully rendered folds recall classical sculpture.

From aristocratic provenance is the delightful Portrait of the children of Paul Pavlovich Demidoff, second Prince of San Donato, by Alexei Harlamoff (1840- 1925 / estimate: £80,000-120,000). Portraits of Paul Pavlovich, 2nd Prince of San Donato (1839-1885) and of the Prince's four children from his second marriage to Princess Hélène Petrovna Troubetzkoy (1853-1917) were completed and subsequently exhibited at the Peredvizhniki ('Wanderers') exhibition of 1884-1885. Recorded in Bulgakov's volume of 1890 Nashi khudozhniki na akademicheskikh vystavkakh poslednogo 25-letiia, both paintings were subsequently believed to be lost; although the whereabouts of the Prince's portrait still remain unknown, the appearance of this portrait depicting the children is a major discovery. Prince Paul's second marriage resulted in five children, four of whom: Avrora (1873-1904), Anatoli (1874-1943), Maria (1876-1955) and Pavel (1879- 1909) provide the subject of this charming painting.

Another important work in the sale is Aphrodite with Eros and Anteros by Nicolas Kalmakoff (1873-1955) (estimate: £200,000-300,000). Born on the Italian Riviera, the son of a Russian general, Kalmakoff's oeuvre reveals the heady influence of his childhood governess who, enthralled by fairytales and legends, would recount the tales of the Brothers Grimm and E. T. A. Hoffmann to her young charge. In this luscious depiction of Aphrodite flanked by her sons Eros and Anteros, Kalmakoff represents the Aphrodite Ouranos, born from the sea foam after Cronus castrated Ouranos. Aphrodite's serene stylized face is reminiscent of the limpid gazes affected by Alphonse Mucha's subjects. The eerily coiling tentacles however, perhaps alluding to the Goddess's rather unnerving origins, render the work a superlative example of Kalmakoff's characteristically dark interpretation of the Greek myth.

The very strong Fabergé selection includes a rare and important Fabergé silver and bowenite table lamp in the form of a dragon, by the workmaster Julius Rappoport (estimate: £80,000-120,000), made for the Nobel Family between 1899-1904. The exotic subject matter of a dragon reflects the strong influence of Japonisme on Fabergé's production. While Peter Carl Fabergé's large collection of Netsuke was well-known and served as an inspiration for the firm's hardstone animal carvings, animal subjects produced in Japan during the Meiji period (1868- 1912) clearly were just as much of an inspiration. The design is a direct copy of dragons found in Meiji bronzes, which were widely exported during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Further highlights include an unusual heart-shaped desk clock by Michael Perchin (estimate: £80,000-120,000); a red guilloche enamel snuff-box, inset with a gold rouble coin depicting Empress Catherine II (estimate: £80,000-120,000; an unusual hardstone model of a Turkey, by Henrik Wigström (estimate: £60,000 80,000), similar to a turkey in the British Royal Collection and with an extensive exhibition history.

The Russian works of art section of the sale will also offer two very rare works by Princess Maria Tenisheva, who was an important patron of the arts in Russia and founded a school for folk art at Talashkino. Both lots are bronze and enamelled boxes, one in the form of a pigeon and the other in the form of a fish (each with an estimate of: £100,000-120,000). The boxes are from a series of seven animal figures executed in 1908 and exhibited in the Paris and Prague salons of 1909. The figures were so well-received by the public that the artist Nicholas Roerich published an article in the Russian art press, entitled Enchanted Animals (enamels of Princess M.K. Tenisheva), which praised the work of Tenisheva.

Christie's | Russian Art Sale | Fabergé |

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