NEW YORK - Christie’s spring sale of Russian Paintings & Works of Art in New York on April 18 will present collectors a wide range of works from the great masters of Russian painting, as well as a strong selection of top decorative works of art, including rare pieces of Fabergé, Imperial Porcelain, and bronzes. The sale also includes a unique collection of Russian graphic design and a selection of property from Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia. The sale comprises over 330 lots and is expected to realize $13-19 million.
Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich (1874-1947), Gilgit Road, from the series Lakes and Gilgit Path, signed with the artist's monogram (lower left), On reverse: signed with his monogram and dated ', and inscribed 'N 21'. Tempera on canvas laid on board, 25.3/4 x 38.1/2 in. (65.5 x 98 cm.). Painted in 1925. Estimate: $300,000-$400,000. © Christie's Images Ltd. 2007.
Russian Paintings - The selection of Russian paintings is led by Vasilii Vereshchagin’s Solomon’s Wall, a magnificent and historically significant painting by the artist (estimated at $3-5 million). Very few of Vereshchagin’s works have appeared on the market in the U.S in the last half-century, and most of his works are currently housed in Russian museums, making this is a rare opportunity for collectors around the world.
The sale features a selection of top works by such masters as Boris Anisfel’d, Boris Grigor’ev, and Nikolai Roerich. Leading a group of painting from Nikolai Roerich is Gilgit Road, one of twelve works from the artist’s Lakes and Gilgit Path series completed in early 1925 whilst Roerich was staying in Srinagar, present-day Kashmir (estimate: $300,000-400,000). As most of the paintings from this series are in private collections in the United States, the present lot marks an important opportunity for collectors.
Boris Grigor'ev’s Russian Peasant Woman (estimate: $300,000-500,000) is from the artist’s well known series of works entitled Visages de Russie or Faces of Russia (1921-1924). Following the theme started in the earlier series Raseia or Russia (1917-1922), the artist developed new and transformed images of Russia, influenced by the Russian iconographic tradition and presenting a poetic and generalized vision of his motherland.
Russian Paintings from the World’s Fair, St. Louis, 1904 - The sale includes a group of four paintings that were exhibited in the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis that together tell a story of intrigue, money, and politics. The Russian exhibition at the St. Louis World’s Fair was the largest art collection ever sent abroad by one country to another. While the Russian exhibit included many of the few well-known Russian artists of the time such as Ilya Repin and Nicholas Roerich, most works were by young and unknown artists, many of whom had agreed to send their paintings to America in hopes of attracting attention in the marketplace. Shortly following the exhibition, however, it was discovered that the necessary – and costly – tariffs required to display these painting in the United States had not been paid. What followed was a controversial chain of events that eventually brought the matter to the desk of U. S. President William Howard Taft. The works were ultimately impounded by the U.S. Treasury Department and then offered for sale in a highly publicized public auction in San Francisco in 1912, where the vast majority of the paintings were purchased by Frank Havens, a wealthy Oakland businessman who owned a Piedmont art gallery. While Havens kept some paintings, most were sold most off over the years, with many sold in a private auction in Oakland in October 1916. The four paintings offered by Christie’s on the 18th are coming back into the public eye for the first time since their international debut in St. Louis over a century ago. Among the group is Ivan Goriushkin-Sorokopudov’s Boyars on the Road (estimate: $100,000-150,000) and Karl Kahl’s Spring (estimate: $25,000-35,000).
Property from the Collection of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia - A selection of objects and paintings from the collection of Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia will also be offered. The collection of 26 lots includes portraits of the members of the Romanov family, the aristocratic family of Demidoffs, historical artifacts connected with the Empress Catherine the Great and Emperor Peter the Great, miniatures, engravings, and the decorative items by Fabergé. Leading the collection is Karl Briullov’s Portrait of Anatole Demidoff, Prince of San-Donato (estimate: $100,000-200,000).
Russian Works of Art - A strong selection of top decorative works of art will offer collectors a wide range of objects, from rare and unique pieces of Fabergé, to porcelain, enamels, glass, and bronzes, with many highlights coming from two important private collections. Leading a large group of fine Fabergé enamels, hardstone, gold, and silver articles is a rare and highly important carved carnelian figure of a gnome mounted as scent flask marked Fabergé from an important private collection (estimate: $250,000-350,000).
A large grouping of Russian porcelain from the 18th-20th centuries is also of particular note, including rare dishes from the major services by the Imperial Porcelain Factory and the Gardner order services. Among the highlights from a private collection is a plate from a military service, Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, period of Nicholas I, dated 1828 (estimate: $120,000-180,000). From this same collection comes a rare silver-gilt mounted bowenite table clock marked Fabergé, circa 1900 (estimate: $150,000-250,000). Rounding out the sale’s decorative arts offerings is a number of fine enamels, highlighted by several works by Feodor Rückert, rare glass from the 18th-20th centuries, silver, including nine silver dinner plates from the Iussupov Table Service, and bronzes by Lanceray and Grachev.