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Russian Art Auction Achieves $16.1 Million At Sotheby's New York, Highest Result Since 2008
An Important and Rare Micromosaic Table by Gioacchino Barberi after Alexander Orlovski, Made for the Russian Court , 1830-33. Est. $400/600,000. Sold for: $1,986,500 (£1,219,160). Photo: Sotheby's

LONDON.- Sotheby’s auction of Russian Art in New York brought $16,089,390 in total today, in excess of the pre-sale high estimate and the highest result for an auction in New York in this category since April 2008*. The Russian paintings on offer were highlighted by Petr Petrovich Vereshchagin’s View of St. Petersburg from the collection of Mikhail Baryshnikov, which sold for $746,500 above a pre-sale high estimate of $500,000. The sale was led by Henryk Siemiradzki’s The Sword Dance, which achieved $2,098,500 and set a new record for the artist at auction, as well as works by Nicholas Roerich, Boris Grigoriev and Yuri Pimenov. Russian works of art were led by An Important and Rare Micromosaic Table by Gioacchino Barberi, Made for the Russian Court, 1830-33, which more than tripled its high estimate in bringing $1,986,500. Competition came down to three determined bidders, who battled for several minutes before the winning bid was cast by an anonymous purchaser over the telephone.

Russian Paintings
“We are very pleased with the results of today’s sale, as we continue to see exceptional works perform well” commented Sonya Bekkerman, Head of Sotheby’s Russian Paintings department. “This sale will be followed by our auction of Important Russian Art in London this June and in New York this November, which will focus on bringing more top-quality works to our clients.”

The morning session kicked off with the sale of Petr Petrovich Vereshchagin’s View of St. Petersburg from the collection of Mikhail Baryshnikov, which brought $746,500, well in excess of its $500,000 high estimate. Five phone bidders vied for the work–whose proceeds will benefit the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City–before it finally sold over the phone to a German private collector.

Five lots later, Henryk Siemiradzki’s work The Sword Dance more than doubled its pre sale high estimate in achieving an impressive $2,098,500, marking a new record for the artist at auction. On offer from the Slotkowski Collection, The Sword Dance is one of the 19th-century Polish artist’s most recognizable and accomplished compositions.

Works from the 20th century were led by Nicholas Roerich’s The Novgorod Market from Sadko, which sold for $842,500, and Boris Grigoriev’s Boy in a Sailor Suit, which achieved $782,500–both well in excess of their pre-sale high estimates. Soviet Realist works by Yuri Pimenov were highlighted by The Pianist, which set a new auction record for a work on paper by the artist in selling for $602,500. Sotheby’s now holds the auction records for both a painting and work on paper by Pimenov.

Russian Works of Art
“Today’s sale demonstrated that a strong demand for unique and interesting material persists in the market for Russian works of art,” commented Karen Kettering, Vice President and Senior Specialist in Sotheby’s Russian Works of Art department. “We continue to achieve extraordinary results for fresh objects, many of which have been hidden away in private collections for years. We will continue to focus on sourcing such material and bringing it to auction for our clients.”

The works of art on offer opened with fierce competition for a group of Soviet porcelain figures from the Lomonosov State Porcelain Factory, Leningrad. The group was led by a Pair of Very Rare Soviet Porcelain Figures: A Young Blacksmith and a Young Thresher, circa 1926 that soared past a high estimate of $18,000 to sell for $188,500. A Rare Soviet Porcelain Figure: The Apple Seller, circa 1927, was also sought-after by multiple bidders, driving the final price to $98,500, more than ten times the high estimate of $9,000.

An Important and Rare Micromosaic Table by Gioacchino Barberi, Made for the Russian Court, 1830-33 led the afternoon session in achieving $1,986,500–more than three times the high estimate of $600,000–and set a record for any mosaic table at auction. Beyond its artistry and remarkable construction, Sotheby’s intensive research into the history of the table suggests that it was made for Nicholas I, Emperor of Russia from 1825-55, or a member of his court.

Other remarkable results for the works of art on offer include A Monumental Russian Bronze Group: Arabic Horse Games, which set a new record for Evgeny Lanceray in selling for $482,500 (est. $140/160,000). A Fabergé Study of Cornflower and Oats in a Rock Crystal Vase, Workmaster Henrik Wigström, St. Petersburg, circa 1910 brought $662,500, nearly nine times the high estimate of $75,000.

*Pre-sale estimates do not include buyer’s premium

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