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Work by visionary Natalia Goncharova leads Bonhams Russian sale
Landscape Birch Trees by Natalia Goncharova (Russian, 1881-1962) Estimate: £120,000 -150,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- A rare early work by Natalia Goncharova (Russian, 1881-1962) Landscape Birch Trees estimate: £120,000-150,000 will lead Bonhams Russian sale on 27 November in London. Goncharova’s work, which dates from her Moscow period, will be offered alongside a later painting by her husband Mikhail Fedorovich Larionov (Russian/ French, 1881-1964); Portrait of a Lady, estimate: £20,000-30,000. Both works are from the same private collection.

Natalia Goncharova was a visionary who challenged artistic, social and gender conventions. Alongside her life-long partner, Larionov, she was one of the leaders of the Russian avant-garde. Her artistic output was exceptionally wide-ranging - from parading the streets of Moscow in Futurist body paint, to designing costumes and book covers. In 1913, at only 32, she had her first solo exhibition in Moscow, displaying a diverse collection of more than 800 works. This led Larionov to describe Goncharova’s style as ‘everythingism’. Landscape Birch Trees (c.1906) was one of the works featured in her 1913 exhibition. With its heavy textual brushwork and vibrant colour palette, the work expresses both Goncharova’s interest in traditional Russian Folk art and her idiosyncratic adaption of Futurism.

In contrast, Mikhail Fedorovich Larionov’s Portrait of a Lady (c.1960) dates from after the couple had become established figures in Paris’ avant-garde art scene, having left Moscow for Paris in 1914. The work most likely depicts the wife of a Parisian art dealer. Though more traditional in its composition, the painting expresses a dignified melancholy that captures Larionov’s skill as a painter, and the range of styles he adapted in his work.

Head of Bonhams Russian Art Department Daria Khristova said, “With the public acclaim for the recent retrospective of Natalia Goncharova at the Tate this summer, we expect a lot of interest in her and in the works of other Russian avant-garde artists in the sale”.

Other sale highlights include:

• A rare silver-gilt mounted rhodonite Fabergé mantel clock, estimate: £80,000 - 100,000.

• Kanchenjunga by Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich, estimate: £30,000 - 50,000. A vibrant work depicting the sacred Kanchenjunga mountain.

• The Rape of the Sabine Women by Natalia Nesterova, estimate: £15,000 - 20,000. The Rape of the Sabine Women depicts a scene from Roman mythology - as captured within a sculpture at the Summer Garden in St. Petersburg - whilst dark depersonalized figures pass, indifferent to the mysterious parallel world the sculpture creates.

• A group of 14 drawings of various sizes by Ernst Neizvestny, estimate: £10,000 - 15,000.

Running alongside the Russian sale preview (24-27 November) will be the exhibition “Prometheus Unbound: Early works by Ernst Neizvestny from the collection of Svetlana Lovetskaya”.

The exhibition will feature selected works from the collection of more than 300 objects by renowned Russian artist Ernst Neizvestny (1926 – 2016) from the collection of Svetlana Lovetskaya. These will include graphic and sculptural works created before the artist’s emigration in 1976.

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