Auctions: Buying into the Russian market

Russia's most famous marine painter, Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (1817-1900), leads with an oil on canvas of Mount Ararat.

buying into russ market8 (photo credit: )
buying into russ market8
(photo credit: )
Sotheby's 400-lot Russian sale in London on Thursday, December 1, contains 220 pictures, including nine by Aivazovsky and others by Mashkov, Korovin, Konchalovsky, Repin and Bakst; and abstract sketches by Malevich from the Rothschild Collection. Russia's most famous marine painter, Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (1817-1900), leads with an oil on canvas of Mount Ararat painted a year after the artist undertook a perilous trip to Armenia in 1868 ( 450,000- 650,000). Also with a hefty estimate is The Picnic, 1922, estimated at 200,000- 300,000, one of a group of works by Russian impressionist Konstantin Alexeevich Korovin (1861-1939) to be offered in the sale. Ilya Ivanovich Mashkov's (1881-1944) oil on canvas Still Life with Flowers has never before been seen at auction. Mashkov, like Petr Petrovich Konchalovsky (1876-1956), was a founding member of the Moscow-based avant-garde movement Bubnovy Valet or "Jack of Diamonds" group ( 200,000- 300,000). Petr Petrovich Konchalovsky's (1876-1956) Red Haired Nude at the Mirror, 1928, estimated at 220,000- 280,000, is being sold by the artist's grandson. Konchalovsky was educated at the Acad mie Julien in Paris, the Stroganov Art and Technical Institute in Moscow and the St. Petersburg Academy of Art, and was also greatly influenced by French Post-Impressionism. The sale also includes paintings by Vasili Dmitrievich Polenov (1844-1927), Boris Dmitrievich Grigoriev (1886-1939), Albrecht Adam (1786-1862) and works from the James Theakston and Rothschild Family private collections. Venice, painted by Polenov in 1897, can be seen as one of the most important landscapes painted by the artist outside Russia. Polenov was one of Russia's most faithful adherents to plein air painting, developed in France by the Barbizon school - an approach that paved the way for Impressionism ( 200,000- 300,000). One of the most impressive pictures in the sale is The Commissar, 1921, by Grigoriev, an avant-garde work possibly from his series Liki Rossii (Faces of Russia), painted when he was living in Paris alongside fellow migr artists like Vasily Shukhaev ( 80,000- 120,000). Battle at Vitebsk, by the renowned painter of battle scenes and horses Albrecht Adam, was one of 16 paintings commissioned by Maximilian, Duke of Leuchtenberg, in 1841, and is estimated at 275,000- 325,000. Also by Adam is a set of 10 watercolors depicting scenes from the Russian Campaign of 1812 ( 120,000- 150,000). Highlights from the collection of Russian-born James Theakston (1866-1932) include Konstantin Andreevich Somov's (1869-1939) watercolor on paper Carnival ( 40,000- 60,000); Sergei Arsenevich Vinogradov's (1869-1938) oil on canvas At the Dacha in Summer ( 50,000- 70,000) and Mstislav Valerianovich Dobuzhinsky's (1875-1957) set design for Tatiana's room from Evgeny Onegin ( 5,000- 7,000). Theakston fled the Revolution to Denmark and retrieved his collection by offering the Soviets a splendid landscape by Russian Jewish 19th-century painter Isaac Levitan. Highlights from the Rothschild Family Collection include two early pencil on paper works by Kasimir Malevich (1878-1935), both estimated at 10,000- 15,000; and Alexandra Exter's (1884-1949) quite marvelous Design for a Puppet (Longhi I), estimated to fetch 20,000- 30,000. The "works of art" lots in the separate catalogue include not only works by Faberg , but also Imperial porcelain and icons. A pair of Imperial porcelain vases, circa 1840 and the period of Nicholas I (1825-1855), are 93.5 cm tall and estimated at a whopping 600,000- 800,000. These lots are a monument of sorts to the worst of Russian taste.