Kustodiev Painting Headlines Sotheby’s Russian Art Sale

Sotheby’s London biannual Russian Art Evening Auction achieved the solid total of £7,906,050 ($12,546,901), within its pre-sale auction estimate of £6,740,000-9,920,000, and was very well-attended. The sale was 63% sold by lot and 73.3% by value, and saw new auction records established for four Russian artists: Isaak Brodsky, Boris Kustodiev, Konstantin Kryzhitsky and Vladimir Lebedev.

Commenting on this evening’s sale, Jo Vickery, Senior Director and Head of the Russian Art Department in London, said: “Tonight’s sale was the first test of the Russian Art Market at Sotheby’s in London this year and we are extremely encouraged by the results established. The prices realised for the rediscovered painting by Brodsky and the work by Kustodiev, both of which set new auction records, demonstrate that the buyers and bidders in this adjusted market are prepared to compete hard for high-quality works that are fresh to the market and rare. This evening’s sale has provided us with valuable information about the Russian art scene in the recalibrated market and we very much look forward to the sales of Russian Art that follow at Sotheby’s this week.”

Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev’s (1878-1927) – The Village Fair at Sotheby’s

Auction Highlights:
This evening’s top-selling lot was Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev’s (1878-1927) oil on canvas The Village Fair, signed and dated 1920. After several minutes of spirited bidding the painting sold for the extraordinary sum of £2,841,250 ($4,509,064) – almost three times the pre-sale estimate of £1-1.5 million – to a round of applause. The work, which had come from a private French collection, is typical of Kustodiev’s idyllic depictions of the Russian provinces and exemplary of the artist’s ability to convey the sounds as well as the sights of provincial Russia.

The recently rediscovered painting, Nanny with Children by acclaimed Russian artist Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky (1883-1939), dated 1912, was also highly sought-after and established a new record for the artist at auction. Four bidders competed for the painting for more than five minutes until it finally sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for the remarkable sum of £937,250 ($1,487,416), over three times its pre-sale low estimate (Est. £300,000-500,000). Nanny with Children, which has been considered lost for almost a century, came from a private collection in Italy where it had remained since the 1950s and is a superb example from one of the most important cycles in the artist’s pre-revolutionary oeuvre.

The third highest price achieved this evening was established for Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich’s (1874-1947) The Treasure, which brought £702,050 ($1,114,153) – more than double its pre-sale low estimate. The work came from a private US collection and was estimated at £300,000-500,000.

A further auction record was established for the artist Konstantin Yakovlevich Kryzhitsky (1858-1911), when his oil on canvas Landscape commanded £289,250 ($459,040), over three times its pre-sale high estimate of £80,000 and a sum well in excess of the previous auction record for Kryzhitsky of £53,000. The painting, property from a private South American collection, depicts the Russian landscape and is an outstanding example of paintings in this genre that celebrate the epic dimensions and perception of Russia’s vast expanse.

The Colefax Collection brought a combined total of £374,500 ($594,332) and both Sergei Arsenevich Vinogradov’s Lady in an Interior and Mikhail Vasilievich Nesterov’s A Lonely Woman achieved prices in excess of their pre-sale high estimates: Lady in an Interior, which dates from 1924 and was one of the first paintings that Vinogradov executed in the flat he and his wife rented in Riga’s city centre, sold for £217,250 ($344,776), while Nesterov’s A Lonely Woman from 1922 realised £157,250 ($249,556).