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Frederik Bruun Rasmussen sets world auction record for Russian icons
The Russian Art Auction took place at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers in Copenhagen on Friday 9 June 2017.

COPENHAGEN.- This summer's international auction at Bruun Rasmussen in Copenhagen has just ended with an iconic auction of Russian art. With a world record on Russian icons and a total hammer price of DKK 27.6 million (€ 3.7 million / € 4.8 million including buyer's premium), auction history was made on Friday 9th June.

“We are completely overwhelmed by the major international interest shown in the art treasures at last Friday’s auction. The Russian icons from Zeiner-Henriksen’s collection were a particular surprise, with several impressive million-kroner hammer prices. A church icon from the 16th century of Christ being taken down from the cross was sold for DKK 4.6 million (€ 620,000 / € 806,000 including buyer's premium), which is a World auction record,” says Martin Hans Borg, expert on Russian art at Bruun Rasmussen.

Zeiner-Henriksen’s collection
The auction’s main attraction was without a doubt Norwegian business attaché Richard Zeiner-Henriksen’s (1878-1965) private Russian art collection. In 1922, he took up residence in St Petersburg with his family in an apartment in the Saltykov Palace, which, at the end of the 18th century, was owned by Empress Catherine II the Great, and has since been inhabited by the princely Saltykov family. It was in these distinguished surroundings that the family began collecting art and antiques.

Richard Zeiner-Henriksen had a special interest in Russian icons. At its peak, the collection included around 60 pieces of 16th and 17th century icons. Some of these are currently found at esteemed museums such as the Louvre in Paris, the National Museum in Oslo and Bergen Billedgalleri. Many of these icons are also featured in the book “Russiske ikoner i norsk og svensk eje” (Russian icons in Norwegian and Swedish ownership) by Helge Kjellin from 1956. Five of these icons fetched the impressive million-kroner hammer prices last Friday.

The auction’s Top 5

• The Novgorod School, 16th century: Large Russian church icon with a depiction of the Descent from the Cross. With kovcheg. Thickness 26 mm H. 90.5 W. 66 Hammer price: DKK 4.6 million (€ 620,000 / € 806,000 including buyer's premium).

• The Novgorod School, c. 1500: Large Russian iconostasis church icon depicting St Michael the Archangel. Tempera on wooden panel. 127.5 x 55 Hammer price: DKK 4.1 million (€ 551,000 / € 716,000 including buyer's premium).

• The Novgorod School, 16th century: Russian icon depicting Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Tempera on wood. 56 x 43 Hammer price: DKK 2.4 million (€ 323,000 / € 420,000 including buyer's premium).

• The Novgorod School, 16th century: Russian icon depicting St George and the dragon. Tempera on wood with a kovcheg. 30 x 23.5 Hammer price: DKK 2.2 million (€ 296,000 / € 385,000 including buyer's premium).

• The Novgorod School, 16th century: Russian icon depicting the Mother of God with the child “Vladimirskaya”. Tempera on wood panel. 21 x 16 Hammer price: DKK 2 million (€ 289,000 / € 376,000 including buyer's premium).

Russian art and antiques in high demand
In addition to the fine collection of icons, the auction also offered impressive hammer prices on paintings, arts and crafts, furniture, jewellery and medals. One of the highlights was a painting by Alexei Kondratyevich Savrasov “Nomads around a fire on the plain in moonlight” (1852), which sold for DKK 1.45 million (€ 195,000 / € 254,000 including buyer's premium), and a large Russian wedding kovsh of silver with cloisonné enamel, which went for DKK 1.3 million (€ 175,000 / € 228,000 including buyer's premium).

The highlights of the Russian art auction were exhibited at the Danish Embassy in London during “Russian Art Week” on 1st and 2nd June, no doubt a contributory factor to the major international interest in Friday’s auction.

The Richard Zeiner-Henriksen Collection was sold in collaboration with the Norwegian auction house Blomqvist.

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