Auction Highlights: Russian Pictures

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Launch Slideshow

The upcoming Russian Pictures sale (London, 5 June) presents a magnificent selection of 19th- and 20th-century Russian art. Highlights of the auction include a 1922 landscape work by Vasily Shukhaev that last came to auction at Sotheby’s in 1999, a significant work by Pavel Tchelitchew that foreshadows the artist’s famous use of triple-perspective, as well as a number of important works from the Soviet period. Click ahead to find out more about the sale.

Russian Pictures
5 June 2018 | London

Auction Highlights: Russian Pictures

  • Kazimir Severinovich Malevich, The Secret of Temptation with Portrait of Ivan Kliun on the Verso, 1908
    Estimate £250,000 - 350,000
    Dating from Kazimir Malevich’s short Symbolist period, The Secret of Temptation has impeccable provenance going back to the writer and collector Nikolai Khardzhiev. The reverse of this gouache is equally intriguing as it shows a portrait by Malevich of his close friend and fellow avant-garde artist Ivan Kliun.

    Russian Pictures

    5 June 2018 | London

  • Konstantin Korovin, House in Gurzuf with a Candlelit Interior, 1913
    Estimate £150,000-200,000
    The climate and landscapes of Crimea have brought tourists to the peninsula since the 19th century. The Russian Imperial family had a summer residence at Livadia near Yalta, and other Russian noble families had palaces nearby. Yalta and the surrounding areas also attracted writers and artists, such as Anton Chekhov and leading Russian Impressionist Konstantin Korovin, who both had dachas in Gurzuf. The small Tatar village inspired some of Korovin’s best works, such as the present painting , not seen in public for a century.

    Russian Pictures

    5 June 2018 | London

  • Petr Iosifovich Smukrovich, Toilette, 1913
    Estimate £200,000-300,000
    This sumptuous and beautifully detailed variation on Édouard Manet’s Olympia has not been seen in public since 1913 when it was exhibited at the St Petersburg Imperial Academy of Arts as Smukrovich’s graduation piece. The sense of playfulness and intimacy is redolent of the French Rococo art, whilst the subject of a disrobed lady in her bedchamber evokes Boris Kustodiev’s wonderfully indulgent merchant’s wives at their toilettes.  

    Russian Pictures

    5 June 2018 | London

  • Vera Mikhailovna Ermolaeva, Suprematist Design for a Façade, 1920
    Estimate £30,000 - 50,000
    Ermolaeva executed her designs for the façade of the Vitebsk Theatre in the spring of 1920 when the Suprematist movement led by Kazimir Malevich was reaching its culmination in Vitebsk. By far the most important surviving Suprematist work by the artist, its impressive size suggests that it had a representative purpose and is likely to have been exhibited in Vitebsk and Moscow in 1920-1922.

    Russian Pictures

    5 June 2018 | London

  • Vasily Ivanovich Shukhaev, Russian Landscape, 1922
    Estimate £250,000 - 350,000
    Last seen at auction when it was sold at Sotheby’s in 1999, the present work is closely related to the series of landscapes inspired by the artist’s ten-month stay in Finland in 1920. During this period following the Russian Revolution Shukhaev’s work changed both in terms of subject matter and style, and it was in his Finnish landscapes that avant-garde tendencies first started to manifest themselves.

    Russian Pictures

    5 June 2018 | London

  • Petr Petrovich Konchalovsky, The Church of Saints Boris and Gleb in Novgorod, 1925
    Estimate £150,000-200,000
    Konchalovsky spent the summer of 1925 in Veliky Novgorod, where he painted a small series of views of Novgorod's medieval monasteries which includes the present work . The painting was a gift from the artist to Vasily Tikhomirov, an influential ballet dancer and choreographer who headed the Bolshoi from 1924 to 1937. From 1936 the picture hung in Tikhomirov's study alongside paintings by Vasily Polenov among others.

    Russian Pictures

    5 June 2018 | London

  • Konstantin Ivanovich Gorbatov, View of Jerusalem, 1934
    Estimate £50,000-70,000
    In 1934 Gorbatov left Berlin to set off on a journey to Palestine via Greece. The trip inspired a series of oils and watercolours which were included in Gorbatov’s 1939 solo exhibition at the Cooling Galleries on 92 New Bond Street. Struck by the nature of Jerusalem, the artist wrote in his travel diary: ‘The shapes of mountains, hills and horizons are so original and at the same time simple. The colours are hot: all shades of brown, yellow and orange, one tone changes subtly to the next, like a charmed Eastern melody, whose sounds modulate and die out’.

    Russian Pictures

    5 June 2018 | London

  • Pavel Tchelitchew, Excelsior, 1934
    Estimate £250,000 - 350,000
    Originally in the collection of Edward James at West Dean, Excelsior is among the most significant oils by Tchelitchew to appear at auction in recent years. The composition foreshadows the artist’s use of triple-perspective, which he would fully develop later that same year in his Bullfight series. The first and possibly the second figure are modelled on Charles Henri Ford, Tchelitchew’s new lover who, together with Parker Tyler, had recently published The Young and the Evil, a novel candidly depicting gay life in New York City.

    Russian Pictures

    5 June 2018 | London

  • Vladimir Weisberg, Still Life with Eleven Test Tubes, 1975
    Estimate £40,000-60,000
    One of the most individual painters to work in the Soviet Union during the post-war period, Weisberg’s work stands out among that of the so-called ‘second avant-garde’. The present work is an outstanding example from the artist’s ‘white period’, the artist signature style in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Russian Pictures

    5 June 2018 | London

  • Alexei and Sergei Tkachev, 1000th Anniversary of the Christianization of Rus, Vyshny Volochok, 1988
    Estimate £30,000 - 50,000
    Alexey and Sergei Tkachev studied under Sergei Gerasimov at the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow. In the early 1950s they formed an artistic tandem and began painting many of their important compositions together. The present lot depicts celebrations of the 1000th anniversary of the Christianization of Rus which took place in multiple locations around Russia from May to June 1988. Originally planned as a church event, it turned into a state-wide affair, with many activities broadcast on national television, which was indicative of a considerable shift in Soviet policy toward religion.

    Russian Pictures

    5 June 2018 | London

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