S otheby's November Russian Pictures sale offers a diverse selection of works by some of the best-known Russian artists from the 19th and 20th centuries. The highlight of the season is Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin’s Still Life with Apples from 1912, painted at the same time as his celebrated masterpiece Bathing of a Red Horse. The 19th century section is led by a rare pair of exquisite Neapolitan views by Ivan Aivazovsky dating from 1844.
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Still Life with Apples
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin’s Still Life with Apples from 1912 was painted at the same time as his early masterpiece Bathing of a Red Horse. By including a sketch for the horse in this still life, the artist makes direct reference to the creation of what is now one of the most recognizable images in Russian art. Still Life with Apples anticipates all of Petrov-Vodkin’s major artistic achievements and is of considerable art historical importance.
The Striking Still Lifes of Petrov-Vodkin
This group of stage and costume designs from an American private collection includes works by Sergei Sudeikin, Konstantin Korovin and Boris Bilinsky. These artists left Russia in the early 1920s and were forced to start afresh in the West. Sudeikin’s designs for a production of Sadko at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1930 were extremely well received. Contemporary reviewers praised him for the ‘fantastical scenic transformations’ (The New York Times) and singled out his use of colour for its ‘power, variety and depth of mood’ (The Musical Courier).
The Borki Train Disaster
On 17 October 1888 the Imperial train carrying Alexander III and his family derailed near Kharkov. Twenty-three people died as a result of the crash but the Imperial family miraculously survived. Sokolov’s painstakingly detailed depiction of the aftermath of the disaster was exhibited both in Russia and abroad and is his most accomplished work ever to appear on the market.