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Still Life with Lilac by Petrov-Vodkin leads Russian Art Sale
A Jewelled Gold-mounted Nephrite and Rock Crystal Study of a Dandelion by Fabergé, St Petersburg, circa 1900. Estimate: £120,000-160,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.

LONDON.- Christie’s will present their annual auction in London on 3 June, which includes an exciting selection of works by highly sought-after artists including Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Boris Grigoriev, Ivan Shishkin, Konstantin Makovsky, Aleksandr Deineka, Sergei Chekhonin and the pioneering female printmaker Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva. The session of the sale dedicated to Russian Works of Art will offer pieces from the esteemed workshops of Fabergé, important 18th and 19th century silversmiths and Imperial Porcelain Factory, including a jewelled gold-mounted nephrite and rock crystal study of a dandelion by Fabergé and an important parcel-gilt silver and niello tureen (estimate: £120,000-£160,000, and estimate: £200,000-£300,000). The highlight of the sale is Still life with lilac by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (estimate: £1,000,000-£1,500,000). The mastery of optical illusion, the brazen use of pure colours and the daring command of perspective confirm this painting as a quintessential Petrov-Vodkin. Having been exhibited at the highprofile XVIII Venice Biennale and offered from the collection of the discerning art critic and publisher, Giovanni Scheiwiller, the still life reveals a fascinating story of cultural exchange between the Soviet Union and Italy in the 1920s-1930s. Christie's will provide international collectors a chance to acquire a piece by such an astoundingly talented household name, one paralleled only by the greatest artists of the 20th century. This lot will be on view in Moscow from 15 to 17 May.

The sale features an important selection of portraits and landscapes, including Ivan Shishkin’s Siverskaya executed in 1896 by Russia’s arguably most famous landscape artist (estimate: £200,000-300,000); Konstantin Makovsky’s Reclining Nude, a seductive painting accomplished by the master of portraiture and large historical canvases (estimate: £200,000-£300,000); and Le Pouliguen painted by Boris Grigoriev in 1923, a magnificent work from the artist’s notable Breton cycle, perhaps the most significant series in his artistic oeuvre. Treasured in the same family for over fifty years, the portrait was initially in the collection of Charles E. Merrill, the self-made investment banker who in 1914 founded the firm now known as Merrill Lynch & Co. (estimate: £350,000-£550,000).

Sergei Chekhonin was without doubt one of the most versatile artists of his generation. His artistic output remained thoroughly diverse throughout all stages of his life, and this ability to adapt and master multiple media, including a wide range of decorative arts as well as graphic design, while developing new techniques and methods, rank him as one of the greats of Russian art. Estimated between £1,200 to £25,000, the collection ranges from textile and fabric designs to graphic designs for journals and children’s books, designs for porcelain, watercolours, family portraits and more. The 36 lots form the largest collection of the artist’s work ever to appear at auction and are testament to Chekhonin’s versatility and exceptional talent.

Most well-known for her ground-breaking contribution to Russian printmaking, Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva’s remarkable talent and desire to create her own original designs at a time when students were discouraged from executing their own original compositions astounded her contemporaries and continues to impress and delight international collectors today. Presented at accessible price points, the selection of 12 lots comprising multiple woodcuts, provides a comprehensive overview of the core of her artistic oeuvre: views of the artist’s hometown of St Petersburg and its environs, studies of nature, views of Venice, Rome and Tuscany, a collection of ex libris and her favourite bulldog Bobby (estimate: £3,000-5,000). One crucial example is Ostroumova-Lebedeva’s early woodcut 'Perseus and Andromeda' after Peter Paul Rubens executed with such finesse and sophiscation that it was mistaken for a watercolour by a professional artistic judging panel during a competition (estimate: £3,000-£5,000). This collection is a faithful testament to her artistic legacy, and an opportunity for both entry level and discerning collectors to acquire her work.

The highlight of the Russian Works of Art section of the sale is a selection of rare jewelled and guilloché enamel desk clocks. Fabergé workmasters were renowned for producing magnificent yet practical objets d'art, such as clocks, cigarette lighters and bell pushes. They were not simply functional desk accessories, but also highly decorative and often embellished with varicolour gold, gems and a variety of enamelling techniques, including painting en grisaille and gold foiling. Fabergé is known to have invented more than 145 new shades and is remembered as a pioneer in his field by specialists and collectors alike.

Furthermore, we are pleased to present works of art that exemplify the exquisite craftmanship of a number of makers, as illustrated by the two present lots produced by Friedrich Koechli and Feodor Rückert. A rare jewelled and enamel gold Imperial presentation snuff box by Friedrich Koechli, with an estimate of £80,000 - £120,000, demonstrates the tradition of presenting lavish gifts to Russian and foreign dignitaries that flourished during the reign of Emperor Nicholas II. Coming from a private collection in Mexico, a silver-gilt cloisonné and en plein enamel casket, estimated at £80,000 - £120,000, depicts a detail from A Boyar Wedding Feast after a painting by Konstantin Makovsky, and is executed in Pan-Russian style.

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