• The William F. Reilly Collecti auction at Christies

    Sale 2273

    The William F. Reilly Collection

    14 October 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 39

    A PAIR OF RUSSIAN BRASS AND EBONY-INLAID MAHOGANY SIDE CHAIRS

    CIRCA 1790, POSSIBLY DESIGNED BY ANDREI VORONIKHIN

    Price Realised  

    A PAIR OF RUSSIAN BRASS AND EBONY-INLAID MAHOGANY SIDE CHAIRS
    CIRCA 1790, POSSIBLY DESIGNED BY ANDREI VORONIKHIN
    Each brass-inlaid square back with a scalloped rosette within a circle above a slip seat and apron with further brass inlay, on square tapering legs, one seatrail stamped 22, the other 33 (2)


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    Andrei Voronikhin (1759-1814) was trained in Moscow in 1777, mainly in miniature painting, perspective and architecture. His first major commission was the alteration of the interiors of Stroganoff Palace in St. Petersburg. Important commissions followed from other Russian aristocratic families which led to the patronage from the Imperial Court to design several rooms at Pavlovsk Palace. The rooms included designs for several sets of chairs and Voronikhin worked closely with some of the St. Petersburg workshops, in particular that of Heinrich Gambs (1765-1831), to produce them.

    A German émigré, Gambs was a pupil of the German cabinet-maker Roentgen and accompanied him on a 1795 trip to St. Petersburg when Roentgen received a commission from Catherine the Great. Gambs stayed in St. Petersburg and acquired an Austrian business partner, Jonathan Ott where he won the patronage of the Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna, also a patron of Voronikhin. The furniture commissioned by both Feodorovna and executed from Voronikhin's designs incorporate both brass-mounted and brass-inlaid work.

    Brass inlay on ebony could indicate the workshop of Heinrich Gambs and is a distinctive characteristic of the offered lot. Several pieces, such as a cabinet with closely related brass inlay as well as a small side table executed by his workshop circa 1804, are illustrated in A Chenevière, Russian Furniture The Golden Age 1780-1840, London 1988, p. 171, 172, 174 and 194. As it was customary for the drawings to remain with the cabinet-maker producing the furniture, sadly hardly any of them survive.

    RELATED EXAMPLES

    This model was a popular one and variations of it, all with the distinctive scalloped brass-mounted rosette splat, were commissioned for several rooms at Pavlovsk, including the Billiard Room, the Small Study, the Library and the Ballroom. An armchair and side chair are depicted in a watercolor of the Small Lantern Room at Pavlovsk, illustrated in A Cheneviere, op.cit., p. 111 and reproduced here. It is interesting to note that the offered lot are, as of yet, the only pair to have the striking brass-inlaid ebony borders.

    Provenance

    Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 16 June 1995, lot 61.