New York – Christie’s sale of Russian Works of Art on April 9 in New York features a strong selection of fresh to the market works from distinguished private collections, many with Russian Imperial and royal provenance. Highlighting the sale are two sculptures by the most influential Russian artists of the late 19th Century; a marble bust of Ivan the Terrible by Mark Antkol’skii from the collection of Prince Ivan Obolensky, and a bronze bust Portrait of I.E. Repin by Viktor Vasnetsov, from the descendants of Alexander Siloti (both estimated at $100,000-150,000). The sale is comprised of nearly 150 lots and expected to achieve in excess of $1.9 million.
Christie’s is honored to present the prestigious collection of Prince Ivan Obolensky, which includes nine decorative works of art in the sale, and important pictures to be offered in London in June. Tracing its origins to Rurik, the 9th Century founder of the first ruling dynasty of Russia, the Obolensky family has been very influential throughout Russian history, producing generations of soldiers and statesmen. Ivan was born in 1925 in London to Prince Serge Obolensky (1890-1978) and Ava Alice Muriel Astor (1902-1956), daughter of John Jacob Astor IV (1864-1912) and Ava Lowle Willing (1868-1958). In the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, many aristocrats fled without their possessions and were forced to recover them on the international market, and it is in this manner that Prince Serge was able to acquire much of his collection while living in London.
The highlight from the collection of Prince Ivan Obolensky is a marble bust of Ivan the Terrible created in 1877 by Mark Antokol'skii (1843-1902), who is regarded as the most important Russian sculptor of the second half of the 19th Century (estimate: $100,000-150,000). Known for his realistic portrayal of historic subjects, the artist spent a great deal of time researching the life and psyche of Tsar Ivan IV (1530-1584), Grand Duke of Moscow (1533-1584), who was the first Russian ruler to formally assume the title of Tsar in 1547. The sculpture was produced during a surge of intellectual interest about Ivan the Terrible, following A.K. Tolstoy’s novel The Silver Prince, which was serialized in 1862. The sculpture of Ivan the Terrible was pivotal to Antokol'skii’s career and enjoyed wide success in Russia and throughout Europe.
Another distinguished collection featured in the sale is property from the descendants of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna. The collection includes more than 30 lots of family heirlooms, including photograph frames, icons, and personal correspondence, and highlighting the group is a Fabergé silver-gilt and guilloché enamel photograph frame, which was purchased by Empress Maria Feodorovna from Fabergé’s St. Petersburg shop on December 31, 1899 (estimate: $20,000-30,000).
Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna (1875-1960) was the eldest daughter of Emperor Alexander III (1845-1894) and Empress Maria Feodorovna (1847-1928) and the sister of the future Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918). Xenia married Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich (1866-1933), a grandson of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855), and together they raised seven children, one daughter and six sons. Following the Russian Revolution, Xenia and her family, together with her mother, Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, were rescued by the British battleship, HMS Marlborough. Xenia eventually settled in England, at first living at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor Great Park and later relocating to Wilderness House in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace.
Other sale highlights include a collection of Fabergé cigarette cases from a Private Collection, Cumberland Island, Georgia (estimates from $6,000-8,000), a silver and cloisonné enamel three-handled cup by Feodor Rückert from a Southwest Private Collection ($50,000-70,000), bronze equestrian group of General Mikhail Skobelev, a hero of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and important Russian national figure, by Evgenii Lanceray ($50,000-70,000), and a collection of salt thrones from and Important Swiss Collector (estimates from $3,000-5,000).
Note to Editors:
The Portrait of I.E. Repin was previously announced. To read the press release, click here.
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