Sotheby's Important Russian Art auction this evening brought £10,049,250/$15,780,337. The sale achieved sell-through rates of 65.8% by lot and 74.9% by value, and established four new artist records. Sotheby's Sales of Russian Art continue this week with the Russian Paintings Day Sale tomorrow and the Russian Works of Art, Faberge & Icons Day Sale on Wednesday.
'Still Life (Bluebells)' by Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova
The top-selling lot of this evening's auction was Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova's Still Life (Bluebells), which sold for £2,953,250/$4,637,488. The work was acquired by a bidder on the telephone. The painting, which is a rare example of Goncharova's early work and has been extensively published in monographs on the artist, is an exploration of Primitivism and Post-Impressionism. This museum-quality work remains among the most significant paintings by the artist ever to be offered at auction.
Commenting on the results of this evening's auction, Jo Vickery, Senior Director and Head of Sotheby's Russian Art Department in London, said: 'We are very pleased with the overall total of £10 million for this evening's Important Russian Art sale. 12% of buyers in tonight's auction were new to Sotheby's and with successful bids from the UK, the CIS, the rest of Europe, the US, and even Asia, we are also happy with the depth of buying. The price of £229,250/$359,991 paid for Mikhail Vrubel's 'Tsar of the Sea' set a new record for the artist at auction, and further records were also established for Adolf Ladurner, Alexander Makovsky and Alexander Gerasimov.'
The second highest price of tonight's sale was established for Vasily Vasilevich Vereshchagin's The Spy, one of the most stirring and dramatic images from his series of paintings on the subject of the Russo-Turkish war. The painting saw competition from three bidders and finally sold to a buyer in the room for £1,050,000/$1,650,000, within its pre-sale estimate of £800,000-1,250,000/$1,280,000-2,000,000.
Further works that performed well in tonight's sale: Petr Petrovich Konchalovsky's Zhelty buket (Still Life with Flowers) sold for £469,250/$736,863, reaching the high end of expectations for the painting (est. £300,000-500,000). This wonderfully m inimalist masterpiece from 1918, a highly sought-after period of Konchalovsky's oeuvre, showcases the artist's approach to still life painting at its most radical.. An exceptionally rare group of ceramics by Mikhail Vrubel, produced in the 1890s at the Abramtsevo workshop realised an overall total of £611,000/$959,453, within pre-sale expectations. These remarkable ceramics inspired by Russian folk tales and the operas of Rimsky-Korsakov are among some of the most sophisticated pieces from this crucial Russian Art Nouveau movement to remain in private hands and were led by the sale of the Tsar of the Sea, which sold for £229,250/$359,991 against its presale estimate of £180,000-250,000/$287,000-399,000, achieving a record for a work by the artist sold at auction. The artist's Sadko also sold well, achieving the sum of £163,250/$256,351, above its pre-sale estimate of £100,000-150,000/$160,000-240,000). Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich's Lhamo, realised £601,250/$944,143 (est. £500,000-800,000). The work, dated 1927, is significant for its inception during Roerich's legendary five-year expedition through India and Central Asia.. Aleksandr Volkov's Caravan, executed circa 1921-23, surpassed its pre-sale high estimate, realising £253,250/$397,678 (est. £150,000-200,000/$240,000-319,000). The work is a stunning example of the chaotic beauty that often defines the artist's oeuvre.
New Artist Records:
Adolf Ignatevich Ladurner, Soldiers Bivouacking in a Village. Previous auction record: £24,500/$50,715 (November 2011). Sold for: £109,250/$171,555
Alexander Vladimirovich Makovsky, Market Day in Plyos. Previous auction record: £193,250/$318,942 (November 2009). Sold for: £217,250/$341,148
Mikhail Alexandrovich Vrubel, The Tsar of the Sea. Previous auction record: £181,250/$282,458 (November 2010) Sold for: £229,250 / $359,991
Alexander Mikhailovich Gerasimov, Still Life With Roses. Previous auction record: £241,250/$359,940 (November 2008). Sold for: £361,250/$567,271