Nevertheless, the sales were still running at under half the value of the 2007 market peak.
Actor’s Fabergé jewelled timepiece
Sotheby’s Russian works of art sale on June 6 was led by a Fabergé jewelled gold and enamel timepiece made by the workmaster Henrik Wigström in St Petersburg. Dating from 1904-1908, the numbers were each set with rose-cut diamonds and the frame was chased with gold acanthus leaves. Previously owned by the actor Yul Brynner, it was estimated at £180,000-250,000, but sold at £240,000.
Fabergé’s ‘Little Gurie’ silver vodka cup
Among the pieces of Fabergé bringing competition at Sotheby’s Russian art sale on June 6 was this c.1909-13 silver figural cup. It was cast and chased as the head of Mikhail Antonovich Gurie, the Swiss manager of Carl Fabergé’s St Petersburg flagship shop between 1900 and 1918. Affable, energetic and multilingual, Gurie would deliver objects to the Russian Imperial court and Empress Maria Feodorovna referred to him as ‘my little Gurie’. The cup engineered to balance at three points of the head when turned upside down. Estimated at £12,000-18,000, it was knocked down at £19,000.
Artist inspired by the Volga province
‘Summer’, an oil on canvas by Isaak Ilich Levitan (1860-1900) was one of two works by the artist that jointly led Sotheby’s Russian art sale on June 6 when it was knocked down at £750,000. Having never before appeared at auction, the work posted the highest price paid for the artist at auction in nearly a decade although it sold under estimate here. It was likely painted in Zatishye in the Volga province of Tver in May 1891. The artist later wrote to Chekhov: “It has become more interesting here with the change in the weather, and it has inspired rather exciting subjects for my work.”
Repin’s young son in Naples
Ilya Efimovich Repin’s (1844-1930) portrait of his 16-year-old son, Yuri, sold for £630,000 at Sotheby’s against a £750,000-1m estimate. He is depicted here in Naples, where the artist had recently been appointed Professor of the Imperial Academy, and the the medieval Castel dell'Ovo visible in the background.
Léon Bakst costume design
Leading Christie’s Russian art sale on June 5, this costume design by Léon Bakst (1866-1924) came from the estate of Richard J. Schwartz, the owner of the dressmaker Jonathan Logan who died last year. He also chaired the New York State Council for the Arts for 20 years. The costume design for the character of Creon, the ruler of Thebes, in Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’ dated from 1904. At the sale, it overshot a £100,000-120,000 estimate and sold at £310,000
Leonid Pasternak’s party of artists
One of a number of pieces of Russian art owned by the movie star Natalie Wood who died in 1981 was this oil painting by Leonid Pasternak (1862-1945). It depicted a party of friends at the home of artist Konstantin Korovin (shown on the right) along with other colleagues from the Moscow School of Painting. Estimated at £60,000-80,000, it sold at £85,000 at Christie’s.
Russian financier’s breakfast service
This Rococo-style breakfast service drew demand at Bonhams’ Russian sale on June 7. Dating from 1866 and made by the Imperial Porcelain Factory, it was likely commissioned to mark the 25th wedding anniversary of the prominent Russian financier and industrialist Alexander Ludwigovich Stieglitz and his wife Carolina-Ernestina Stieglitz. The service, which comprises a tea pot, creamer, lidded sugar bowl, two cups and saucers is enriched with the monograms of its owners 'AS' and 'CS'. Estimated at £50,000-70,000, it sold at £90,000.
Dmitrii Stelletsky’s fox hunt
'The Fox Hunt' by Dmitrii Semenovich Stelletsky (1875-1947) dated from 1912 and had originally been exhibited at the 9th Exhibition of the Union of Russian Artists in the same year. The large tempera on board reflected the resurgence of interest in the medieval Russian epic during this time and of which Stelletsky became a main proponents. Estimated at £100,000-120,000, it was knocked down at £210,000 and led Bonhams’ Russian sale on June 7.
Konstantin Korovin on the Cote d’Azur
This view of Villefranche-sur-Mer in southern France by Russian painter Konstantin Korovin (1861-1939) led MacDougall’s Russian Art sale on June 7. Signed and dated 1922, it dated from the period shortly after the artist left Soviet Russia and spent almost a year on the Cote d’Azur after his son became seriously ill with pleurisy. Estimated at £300,000-400,000, it was knocked down at £480,000.
Vladimir Luppian’s magnum opus
This painting, ‘Revolution as a Stage of Evolution’, was produced by Vladimir Luppian (1892-1983), a pupil of the Russian avant-garde artist Pavel Filonov. It took over 30 years to complete. A complex composition based on the artist’s idea of a ‘mechanical organism’ with a colourful ‘capillary system’, it sold slightly below estimate at MacDougall’s for £190,000.