Measuring an extraordinary 18in (46cm) long, it was offered at Sotheby’s Russian Works of Art, Fabergé and Icons sale on November 27.
Distinctly Russian in form, with elaborate decoration enamelled in pastel colours, it had marks for 1908-1917 and Rückert, the Moscow maker who worked with Carl Fabergé from 1887.
Offered with an estimate of £50,000-70,000 at Sotheby’s, it drew interest well beyond that level and was eventually knocked down at £400,000 (plus premium). It was top lot at the £5.4m sale.
Multi-estimate prices also greeted a collection of portrait miniatures from the collection of Dr Erika Pohl-Ströher. These were topped by the face of soldier and statesman Count Alexei Ivanovich (1737-1808) by Vladimir Borovikovsky that sold for £85,000 against a £5000-8000 guide.
Sotheby’s claimed the top lot of the week when a large genre scene by Konstantin Makovsky (1839-1915) sold for a record £3.6m at its Russian Pictures sale, while also adding to the bottom line was the £4.2m generated by art, jewellery and musical instruments from the collection of cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.
Christie’s lone Russian art sale the day before posted £7.14m and was led by a 5ft (1.52m) high Imperial porcelain vase dating from 1836. Thought to have been acquired by a Spanish dancer of the Imperial ballet troupe in Russia before the Revolution, it sold at £1.5m.
MacDougall’s meanwhile reported a total £6.32m from its Russian art sale on November 28. Leading the auction, The Game of Billiards by Petr Konchalovsky (1876-1956) was knocked down at £1.3m (estimate £1.5m-2m). Dating from 1918, it depicted the artist himself with fellow avant-garde painter Aristarkh Lentulov.
Bonhams’ Russian sale on November 28 raised £2.73m with its top lot, Still life with a clay jug by Vasily Rozhdestvensky (1884-1963), setting an artist’s record at a multiple-estimate £700,000.