Nesterov, Serebryakova, Korovin and other outstanding artists on Christie’s Russian Art auction in London
Christie’s will hold an auction of Russian art on the 23 of November, 2020. A number of iconic works from private collections of outstanding painters from 18 to 21 century, such as MariaYakunchikova, Zinaida Serebriakova, IvanAivazovsky, Mikhail Nesterov, KonstantinKorovin, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Aleksandra Shchekatikhina-Pototskaya, Vasily Shuhayev, Marevna, Boris Grigoriev, AleksandraEkster, DavidBurliuk, Nicholas Kalmakoff and many more will be presented for the collectors.
Among the top-lots of the auction — a painting Yarilin calls by Nicholas Roerich made in 1919 (valued: £1 200 000 — 1 800 000). His personal exposition in The Russian Museum opened on November,12. Also the auction will present The Sacred Lake by Mikhail Nesterov, Ivan Aivazovsky’s marvellous seascapes, the painting by Boris GrigorievLe Pouliguen(valued: £250 000 — 350 000) from his important Breton cycleFaces of the world(1920-1931), and some other works from private collections, which have never appeared on the art market before.
As it’s been 150 years since the birth of Maria Yakunchikova, the auction house Christie’s offers a unique assembly of her works from the property of her descendants. They have never been exhibited or sold before. Among 37 lots the broadest variety of plots and techniques can be found — from pencil sketches made during trips around Europe to samples of a legendary The Swan’s Song, created for the cover of the magazine The World of Art(lot № 15), from botanical watercolors and gouaches (lots № 10 and 14) and oil paint landscape sketches to panes, made with the original technique of carving and burning on the wood (lots № 7, 9, 10 and 19). Historical tradings are synchronized with an extensive exhibition Maria Yakunchikova-Veber. 150 Years Since The Birth, which is taking place since October, 14, 2020 to January, 24, 2021 — basically, the first monographic exposition since posthumous retrospective in 1905.
The Sacred Lake by Mikhail Nesterov (valued: £200 000 — 300 000) — one of the pearls in the collection of Dutch collector Johann Quade — is available for the public for the first time in 90 years. This work was exposed on The Exhibition of Russian Art of The Last Two Centuries, which was organized in December, 1932 by the committee under the presidency of Nikolay Bogdanov-Belsky in Riga.
Two paintings of Ivan Aivazovsky can also be added to the number of top-lots: The Tempest (valued: £250 000 — 350 000) made in 1855 and Genoa Towers on The Black Sea(valued: £700 000 — 900 000) dated 1895, when Aivazovsky spent time in his home country, in Feodosia. This astonishing night scenery, mentioned by his biographer, Nikolai Barsamov (1892–1976), was in a private collection for a long time. Now, for the first time in 40 years, the work will appear at the auction.
The heritage of Zinaida Serebryakova will be presented by three works of her French period, which were in the property of her descendants and are put up on sale for the first time. Among them us the painting Nude, which depicts Serebryakova’s 15 years old daughter Katya (valued: £400 000 — 600 000). It was made approximately in 1928 and belongs to a famous series of paintings with the portrayals of women’s nature, which goes back to the well-known picture Banya (1913) from the collection of The Russian Museum. Katya posed for many of Serebryakova’s works, for example, Sleeping Girl On a Red Blanket, where Katya is portrayed in the age of 10. The painting participated in a significant exhibition in New York (1924) and then was sold for $500. In June 2015 this same painting was sold at the auction for £3 845 000, which became a personal record for Serebryakova’s works.
Konstantin Korovin’s painting In the Garden was made approximately in 1923 (valued: £200 000 — 300 000). Korovin himself called his works pieces of nature. In the Garden reflects this description perfectly. A smiling woman in a dazzling white dress is watching us from the canvas, she is sitting on a shady bench on beautiful sunny midday. Trying to catch a fleeting beauty of this moment, the painter uses wide and free brushstrokes, which create an almost sensible feeling of summer and of light-infused air. Exquisite dress fabric and gentle greenery in the backyard are reflected brilliantly, and warm colors enliven the sense of a hot summer day, with all its smells and sounds. A famous art journal Firebird, which was published on Russian language in Berlin (and afterwards in Paris), dedicated a whole illustrated article to the painting In The Garden due to Korovin’s personal exhibition in the Carl Nicolai gallery in Berlin in May and June, 1923. Apart from this painting, another Korovin’s landscape French Port in the Summer (valued: £80 000 — 120 000) will be presented on the auction.
The painting Belkino. The Garden (valued: £300 000 — 500 000) is a brilliant example of Pyotr Konchalovsky’s artwork of the time when he was in Belkino with his family from spring till winter in 1907. This period became a turning point in his career and, as he confessed later, defined him as an artist. In Belkino Konchalovsky painted numerous etudes in impressionist manner. The impact of impressionists and Claude Monet (1840–1926) in particular is evident in this painting. Monet’s work Haystacks was introduced on Artistic and Industrial Exhibition of French Art in 1891, and in 1895 the whole series of works with the same title was presented in Moscow. Konchalovsky saw Monet’s work for the first time back in the beginning of 1890s, and paintings of this famous French impressionistaffected young artist in a great way. In his landscape from Belkino Konchalovsky recreated everything, which struck him in the painting of French artist: a trembling feeling of life, light and spontaneous art style, vivid colours and renewal of picturesque palette.
A painting by Aleksandra Ekster Carnival in Venice was valued by the auction house’s experts at £250 000 — 350 000. Carnival for a long time belonged to Inno Ezratti, textile manufacturer, who met Ekster in Paris. They became really close friends: when nazi troops occupied France and started to arrest and deport jews, Ekster hid the entrepreneur and saved his life. In gratitude, Ezratti bought her paintings, rented a workshop and provided her with orders for all her lifetime. From her side, to thank manufacturer Ekster made him one of her executors and bequeathed lots of her works to him. Her second executor was an artist Simon Lissim, a close friend of hers, who lived in the USA. Ekster’s paintings don’t appear on the market very often, and works with such a perfect provenance are an extreme rarity. Her outstanding talent and successful career influence the price of her paintings: during auctions, they hit the mark of £1 million twice.
Maria Vorobieva-Stebelskaya, who is mostly known by the name Marevna, was one of the first cubist painters and is recognised with her vivid manner. She made lots of portraits of her friends and acquaintances — one of those paintings is offered for an auction. A portrait of a Vilnius Jew, Emmanuel Mané-Katz, was valued at £50 000 — 70 000. The portrait of Mané-Katz, along with the other depictions of painter’s famous friends, was exposed during Marevna’s biggest retrospective exhibition in Petit Palais de Geneve in 1971.
A painting of Vasily Shuhayev Collioure. Mistral (valued: £50 000 — 70 000), made in 1927, refers to a series of his works, which were exposed on the exhibition in Brussels GalleryKodak in 1929. Collioure, a small town on the shores of the Gulf of Lyon, is famous as a motherland of fauvism, which inspired Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck and other painters. The second part of its title sharpens our attention on suchCollioure’s distinctive feature, as mistral — a cold northwest wind. There were three landscapes of Collioure in Brussels Gallery Kodak in total. One of them, which is nowadays famous as The Bay Collioure, is in the collection of The State Tretyakov Gallery since 1970s. It is one of the best Shuhaev’s French landscapes, in which the author managed to solve a very difficult compositional and coloristic task and to depict the color of water in the bay extremely accurately. The first steps in this direction can be seen in the painting Collioure. Mistral.
In Aleksandra Shchekatikhina-Pototskaya’s work The Accordion Player (valued: £80 000 — 120 000) Russian folklore motives merge with dynamic forms, light brush strokes and an expressive palette. This painting somehow resembles the ones by Natalia Goncharova, who moved to Paris in the same years as Shchekatikhina-Pototskaya did. However, if Goncharova preferred to depict the difficulties of peasant labor, Shchekatikhina-Pototskaya admired the beauty of simple countryside life. Сritics and visitors of The Cairo Salonin 1924 were extremely fascinated by the energetic composition and brights colors of The Accordion Player. This painting was exposed in her solo exhibition in Paris. Shchekatikhina-Pototskaya herself was so content with The Accordion Player, that she recreated it in different formats; a couple of dishes with the similar picture were sold from the Christie’s auctions, and another one is a part of The Russian Museum collection.
In the Applied Arts section significant Faberge works, jewellery, crafts from silver and enamel, Imperial and Soviet porcelain, military and historical items from three past centuries are presented. Two recently found bronze sculptures of a falconer and a Kyrgyz by Eugene Lanceray are especially remarkable. Both figures are human-sized and belong to the collection of the successors of Irish baron Rossmore.
The auction of Russian art will pass in a traditional format on November, 23, but will only be available for distant bidding. Following the biddings and making bets online will be possible in real-time mode through Christie’s LIVE TM, or by calling Christie’s specialists.
Translated by Polina Vologdina