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  • Russian Art Sale at Sotheby's on April
    March 16, 2005 NEW YORK.

    An Important Fabergé Hardstone Figure of an Officer of the Imperial Horse Guards. Est. $400/600,000.

    On April 21, 2005 Sotheby's will hold its first combined auction of Russian Paintings and Works of Art in New York. The auction will feature a rediscovered masterpiece by Konstantin Makovsky in addition to other newly discovered works by Boris Grigoriev and Zinaida Serebriakova. Breathtaking Kremlin views by Vassili Vereshchagin and Sergei Vinogradov, a strong selection of marine scenes by Ivan Aivazovsky and Impressionistic vistas by Konstantin Gorbatov will also be included. Highlighting the applied arts in the sale is a group of four important Fabergé hardstone figures from the Charles R. Wood Foundation, Glens Falls, New York. Very rarely seen at auction, these figures range in estimate from $400,000 to $800,000 each. Prior to the auction on April 21st, the works will be on public exhibition from April 16-20, 2005 at Sotheby's galleries in New York.

    Paintings - Highlighting the section of Russian Paintings is a rediscovered masterpiece entitled Judgment of Paris by Konstantin Egorovich Makovsky (1839-1915). At some point in the 1920s, the present work entered the collection of the Pabst Brewing Company, where it will have remained for 80 years until its auction appearance at Sotheby's this April. The canvas, by the great 19th-century Russian painter Konstantin Makovsky, measures an impressive 244 by 396 cm (96 by 154 in.). After its creation, Judgment of Paris was exhibited at the 1889 Paris World's Fair, where it earned the artist a coveted gold medal as well as the prestigious Legion of Honor. It captivated the American jeweler Charles William Schumann, a longtime collector of Makovsky's work, who purchased the painting directly from Makovsky and exhibited it alongside the artist's famous Boyar Wedding in his jewelry store on the corner of Broadway and 22nd Street in New York City. Schumann intended his Russian and European art collection to 'promote the development of American culture'. Estimated at $750,000/1.1 million, the present work is the largest and most historically important composition by Makovsky to appear at auction.

    Also included is a striking canvas depicting sailors loitering in a harbor café in the Mediterranean port of Marseilles by Boris Dmitievich Grigoriev (1886-1939). After working tirelessly on his monumental Faces of Russia cycle, Boris Grigoriev traveled through France and turned his attention to the cafés around Marseilles, populated by sailors, fishermen and other members of the working class. Grigoriev created a captivating series of drawings and paintings chronicling dislocated souls passing their days playing cards, drinking absinthe, and partaking in the local entertainment. Drawings and paintings from this series were published in Boui Bouis, 1924. Sailors at a Café is estimated to sell for $200/300,000.

    A regal Portrait of Vera Fokine by Zinaida Evgenievna Serebriakova (1884-1967) is another outstanding highlight. The present portrait of dancer and wife of the profoundly influential choreographer, dancer and artist Michel Fokine comes to auction directly from the Fokine family. Michel Fokine's innovative choreography revolutionized 20th-century ballet. Vera Fokine was a character dancer with the Mariinsky Theater before she married Michel Fokine. She participated in Diaghilev's Ballet Russes and taught in Fokine's studio in New York. Measuring 35 by 50 ins., the present work is estimated to sell for $200/300,000. A further homage to Vera Fokine by the great, Russian Impressionist Konstantin Korovine is another outstanding highlight in the sale.

    The Unknown Singer by Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947) appears on the market for the first time in eighty-five years. Roerich executed the present painting in England in 1920, and by 1924 it was featured in a Corona Mundi (the international art center founded by Roerich in 1922) publication on the artist's work. The Unknown Singer belongs to a series of paintings in which Roerich explores the spiritual journey of man. The poem that accompanies the work was published in Tsvety Morii or The Flowers of Morya in 1921. This small volume featured sixty-four poems written by Roerich between 1907 and 1921. Having descended in a Private Collection, The Unknown Singer is estimated to sell for $120/180,000.

    Works of Art - Sotheby's Russian sale will also feature an impressive selection of decorative and precious objects highlighted by four important hardstone figures by Fabergé from the Charles R. Wood Foundation. Pioneer of the American amusement park and noted philanthropist from Upstate New York, the late Mr. Wood spent a lifetime developing ways for people to have fun, but perhaps his most lasting legacy is his generosity and commitment to the community. He was an active board member and contributor to numerous healthcare and arts organizations. In 1993, Charles Wood teamed up with Paul Newman to establish the Double "H" Hole in the Woods Ranch, a 300-acre camp for children facing life-threatening diseases situated on the shore of Lake Vanare in New York's Adirondack Mountains. The Ranch welcomes seriously ill children from age 6 to 16 at no cost to them or their families. Here, these children have endless opportunities to enjoy themselves - from arts and crafts to hiking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting and skiing - under the careful observation of a dedicated team of medical experts. Mr. Wood's generosity continues after his passing as 100% of the proceeds of this auction will go to benefit the many charitable endeavors of the Charles R. Wood Foundation. Fabergé is thought to have only made about 60 of these charming hardstone figures and they are rarely seen at auction. Included is a Boyar (est. $600/800,000), which is a depiction of a figure who ranked among the top echelons of Russian society prior to the 18th-century; a Ukrainian Peasant (est. $400/600,000); a St. Petersburg Policeman (est. $500/700,000); and an Officer of the Imperial Horse Guards (est. $400/600,000). Three of them were from the collection of the late Sir William Seeds and were last exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1977 on the occasion of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee.

    Sotheby's April sale will also feature an outstanding selection of Russian applied art, including silver, porcelain and enamels from the Charles Pankow Collection. Included is an extraordinary 30-piece presentation tea and coffee set of gilded silver by Sazikov, which was the property of Grand Duke Konstantin Nicholaevich (est. $200/300,000), and two silver and enamel pictorial boxes by Feodor Rückert. Also among this collection are five porcelain military plates from the Imperial porcelain Manufactory in St. Petersburg, each estimated at $40/60,000.

    A wonderful selection of porcelain from other owners rounds out the sale, including porcelain from the Kremlin service, Raphael service and Imperial Order of St. Vladimir service, as well as other works by Fabergé including clocks, photograph frames and desk accessories in gold, silver and enamel.