With London now accustomed to high levels of spending by private Russian buyers, the latest auctions in this sector once again produced some eye-catching prices for particular lots.
The latest Russian art sales in the Capital saw four salerooms
generate a combined £36.9m hammer, a little lower than the
equivalent series last year which posted £39.9m, but above the
£32.8m seen at the auctions in May.
Although demand is selective, strong bidding arrived on some
traditionally-styled pictures including the top lot of the series -
Boris Kustodiev's (1878-1927) The
Coachman which took £3.9m at Christie's on
The 1923 picture had been owned by the Nobel Prize winning
physicist Peter Kapitza and came to auction from a descendant.
Estimated here at £1.5m-2m, it sold to a private buyer on the phone
and made a record for the artist.
Also making a hefty sum was Nicolai Fechin's
(1881-1955) portrait of Mademoiselle Podbelskaya from 1912
which overshot an £800,000-1.2m estimate and was knocked down at
£1.8m again to a private buyer. The 2ft 8in x 2ft 6in (81 x 78cm)
signed oil on canvas had been unseen in public since 1913 and had
been acquired by the European vendor's father in France in
Christie's hammer total from their Important Russian art sale
held was £12.9m with 65% of the 391 lots finding buyers.
Sotheby's meanwhile held three separate sales
which generated a combined £17.1m with 60% of 517 lots getting
The highest price in their evening sale on November 26 was the
£1.05m seen for a Valentin Alexandrovich Serov
(1865-1911) portrait of a young girl which sold to a CIS
private buyer in the room. The portrait of Praskovia Anatolievna
Mamontova was an oil on canvas executed by the artist at the age of
22, making it one of Serov's earliest finished paintings.
Estimated at £300,000-500,000, it drew three bidders and the
final price was an auction record.
However, the most dramatic competition of the series came at
Sotheby's day sale when bidding took off for Yuri
Annenkov's (1889-1974) portrait of Vsevolod Meyerhold.
Estimated at £30,000-50,000, the pencil drawing drew eight bidders
and was finally knocked down at £900,000 again to a CIS private
The price was a new high for a work on paper record by the
artist at auction.
The two sales held by MacDougall's posted a joint hammer total of
£5.52m with the top price coming on November 25 for Ivan
Aivazovsky's (1817-1900) View of Venice, San Giorgio
Maggiore which was knocked down at £840,000 (est:
sale on November 28 made a hammer total of £1.46m and was led by
Frantz Alexeevich Roubaud's (1856-1928)
Circassian charge at £130,000 (£50,000-60,000). The sale
suffered somewhat from three of the four most valuable pictures,
all consigned from a corporate collection, failing to get away.
The buyer's premium at each saleroom was 25/20/12%.
Meanwhile, an 18-minute bidding battle came at Sotheby's sale of
Music, Continental and Russian Books and Manuscripts in
London on November 28 for an important archive of material relating
to the Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky
The collection of several thousand working manuscripts, personal
photographs, recordings and private documents - including a draft
letter addressed to President Leonid Brezhnev - drew three
determined bidders and overshot a £80,000-100,000 estimate before
it was knocked down at £1.3m to representatives of the government
of Russia's Ivanovo region.