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Christie's London announces Sale of Important Russian Art on 24 November 2014
A large and important nephrite model of a carp. Estimate: £250,000-350,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2014.

LONDON.- Building on the record results of the Russian Art sale this past June, which established multiple new auction records and achieved over £24 million, Christie’s London will offer a spectacular selection of Russian Paintings and Works of Art on 24 November 2014. With over 400 lots with estimates from £1,000 to £2,500,000, this sale presents discerning collectors with an exciting opportunity to acquire exceptional works ranging from Avant-Garde masterpieces to exquisite Fabergé works with Imperial provenance.

Several important private collections are featured in Faces of Russia (lots 36-45), a curated selection of ten early 20th century works led by Yuri Annenkov’s 1922 Portrait of Aleksandr Tikhonov (1880-1956) (estimate: £2,500,000–4,500,000), first exhibited at the 1924 Venice Biennale; as well as important works by Dmitry Stelletsky, Mikhail Zichy and Séraphin Soudbinine (lots 9-11) offered by the Conservatoire Russe de Paris Serge Rachmaninoff; and a collection of works by Léon Bakst, Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov and Alexandre Benois (lots 76-96) among others. Other standout highlights include a truly exceptional and diverse selection of more than 70 works by Fabergé, many of them with distinguished provenance, including Russian Imperial provenance sourced from private European and American collections that are fresh to the market. The works of art are also highlighted by key bronzes, silver and enamels.

Two exceptional portraits by Valentin Serov and Yuri Annenkov lead the Paintings section. Previously sold at Christie’s in 1989 and 2007, each time establishing a new World Record for the artist, Annenkov’s Cubo-Futurist Portrait of Aleksandr Tikhonov (1880-1956) is an audacious paradigm of the Russian Avant-Garde and one of the finest Russian paintings ever sold at Christie’s. Valentin Serov’s Portrait of Maria Zetlin (1865-1911), executed the year before his untimely death, provides a compelling contrast as a definitive jewel of Russia’s Silver Age. Appearing on the market for the first time in history, this phenomenal portrait is being sold by the Municipality of Ramat Gan to Benefit the Ramat Gan Museums (estimate: £1,500,000–2,500,000).

Major works by Kirill Zdanevich (estimate £400,000 – 600,000), Boris Grigoriev (Rasseia, estimate £600,000 – 900,000) and Aleksandr Golovin (Set design for 'Elektra': Agamemnon's Palace in Mykonos, estimate £200,000–300,000) have never before been offered at auction. Zdanevich’s Portrait of Elena Shengelaia (1900-1983) is a beautiful example of Georgian painting. Working across various genres, Zdanevich was inspired by Matisse and Picasso but maintained his primitive and naïve Georgian style. In the present work, Elena, muse to Futurist poets and artists alike, is depicted against the ornamental background of a richly weaved traditional Georgian koshma carpet.

Isaak Levitan’s Summer day (estimate: £1,000,000-1,500,000) depicts the Peksha river just as the sun has started to set. Painted by Russia’s most beloved landscape artist, Summer day was presented at the Twelfth Exhibition of the Moscow Society of Art Appreciators, in 1893, where it was acquired by a private collector and disappeared from public view for over a hundred years. From December 2012 to April 2014, Summer day has been on loan to the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, inspiring one of the museum’s leading curators to devote an article to its history and the significance of its rediscovery.

The sale also includes important works by Abram Arkhipov (Peasant woman in a green sarafan, estimate: £350,000- 550,000), Vladimir Baranoff-Rossine, Nicholas Roerich, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Petr Konchalovsky, Nicolai Fechin and Konstantin Kryzhitsky.

The Works of Art section of the sale will feature more than 70 works by Fabergé, sourced from European and American private collections. Nearly 40 works form part of an exceptional collection of a Lady of Title, which includes a jewelled gold and enamel study of a cornflower (estimate: £200,000-300,000).

Three rare works from an important private collection showcase Fabergé’s collaboration with the art glass manufacturers, Tiffany and Lötz. These works in the Art Nouveau style, which seldom appear on the auction market, feature designs in silver by Fabergé that are at once highly inventive and sensitive to the original glass works. Other Fabergé highlights include a large and important nephrite model of a carp (estimate: £250,000-350,000), an exceptionally large and rare example of a Fabergé hardstone carving of an animal, which shows the influence of Japanese design on Fabergé’s productions. Peter Carl Fabergé himself was an avid collector of Japanese netsuke, and his designers sought inspiration in his collection.

The sale also includes a rare bronze equestrian portrait of Emperor Alexander II by Prince Paul Troubetzkoy (1866-1938) (estimate: £60,000-80,000), which once belonged to Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich (1856-1929) and then descended to Prince Nicholas Romanovich Romanoff (1922-2014), before being sold as part of Nicholas, Prince of Russia’s collection in 1993 (Christie's Geneva).

A wide selection of works in enamel from private collections, including important Viennese and Swiss collections, is highlighted by an important silver and enamel punch set by Ovchinnikov (estimate: £120,000-180,000), which was presented to Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna (1853-1920), daughter of Emperor Alexander II (1818-1881), on the occasion of her marriage in 1874 to Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh (1844-1900), son of Queen Victoria (1819- 1901). Further highlights include a silver, cloisonné and en plein enamel kovsh by Fabergé and Feodor Rückert (estimate: £30,000-40,000), from the collection of Sir William Seeds, K.C.M.G. (1882-1973), H.M. Ambassador to Moscow from 1939-40, and a large silver and cloisonné enamel icon of the Mandylion [Spas Nerukotvorennyi] by Ovchinnikov (estimate: £180,000-240,000), from an American collector.

An impressive selection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century silver is led by an important silver-gilt Imperial presentation kovsh (estimate: £70,000-90,000), offered for the first time at auction from the descendants of Grand Duke George Mikhailovich (1863–1919), grandson of Emperor Nicholas I (1796–1855). The kovsh was presented by Tsars and Great Princes Ioann Alekseevich and Petr Alekseevich in 1690 to Stepan Kuimov, head of the Yaroslavl 'tankard yard', who was responsible for collecting custom duties on drinks in the city. Further highlights include silver Imperial presentation kovshi and early niello work, including a rare and important beaker with the coat-of-arms of Denis Ivanovich Chicherin, Governor of Siberia from 1763 to 1781 (estimate: £8,000-12,000), part of an important private collection, France.

The porcelain section of the sale features property from a European collector, a comprehensive group of porcelain plates and rare plaques depicting Russian regiments and military scenes, as well as rare porcelain figures and Easter eggs. Additional highlights include works from the late eighteenth-century Gardner Order Services from an American collector, including a basket from the Order of St Alexander Nevsky Service (estimate: £45,000-55,000).

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