Early 20th century Russian art is new collecting trend says Bonhams
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Early 20th century Russian art is new collecting trend says Bonhams
Ivan Pavlovich Pokhitonov, Two Hunters in a landscape. £100,000-130,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Russian art collectors are turning to works by early 20th century Russian painters, according to the international auction house Bonhams which is offering several examples of work by artists of this period in its forthcoming sale of Russian Art in London on 3 June.

Bonhams International Director of Russian Fine and Decorative Arts, Yelena Harbick, said, “At the moment, collectors’ interest is shifting towards Russian artists who embraced European Modernism and who contributed to the artistic developments of the early 20th century.”

Bonhams 3 June sale, for instance, features an outstanding still life – Voilier et coquillage - by Alexandra Exter (1884-1949), one of the most important Russian artists working in Paris in the 1930s. This monumental work – 40 x 30 inches – was completed around 1935 and is a compelling still life from the artist’s later period inspired by sailing, sea objects and marine life. It is estimated at £200,000-300,000.

The sale also offers a work by Ivan Pokhitonov (1850-1923), an artist who until recently was largely forgotten in his native land. He moved to Paris in 1877 and, apart from two brief periods back in Russia, spent the rest of his life in France and in Belgium where he died. Pokhitonov was highly successful during his lifetime and most of his works found their way into important private European collections.

“Recently, however,” said Yelena Harbick, “Pokhitonov has become the focus for a group of sophisticated Russian collectors who are building masterpiece collections of his works. With its luminous, ethereal qualities, “Two Hunters in a Landscape” estimated at £100,000-130,000 is expected to attract much attention.”

Alexandra Exter (1884-1949) was a Belarusian-French painter, costume designer and teacher regarded as one of the leading experimenters of the Russian Avant Garde. She emigrated to France in 1924 and spent the rest of her life in Paris. Wherever she lived, Exter was right at the heart of the artistic movements of her time. Her beautiful illuminated manuscripts have long been admired and her paintings have enjoyed a re-assessment in recent years, being now highly regarded and sought after by collectors.

Ivan Pavlovich Pokhitonov (1850-1923) was born in Ukraine but spent much of his life in France and Belgium. He moved to Paris in 1887, settling in Liege in 1893. Influenced by the Barbizon school and also by the Impressionists, Pikhitonov never lost touch with his roots, however, and exhibited with the Itinerants, a loose grouping of Russian realist painters. He spent the First World War in St Petersburg, but left immediately after the February 1917 revolution eventually making his way back to Belgium where he lived until his death.

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