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Mikhail Zichy (1827-1906)
PROPERTY FROM THE CONSERVATOIRE RUSSE DE PARIS SERGE RACHMANINOFF The large Russian community that gathered in Paris after the 1917 revolution were inevitably compelled to recreate the strong cultural context that formed part of their DNA. With music at the heart of Russian culture, the foundation of the ‘Conservatoire russe de Paris’ in 1923, which boasted many teachers formerly of Russia’s Imperial academies, seemed an ideal way of realising this instinct. Among its founders were Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938), Alexander Glazunov (1865- 1936), Alexander Gretchaninov (1864-1956) and Serge Rachmaninoff (1873-1943). In 1932, the Conservatory became part of the recently founded Parisian Russian Musical Society, tasked with continuing the work of its St Petersburg predecessor, which had been founded in 1859 and disbanded in 1917. The new conservatory was named after its first honorary chairman, Serge Rachmaninoff, a powerful symbol of Russian music in exile. Concerts by Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989), Nathan Milstein (1904-1992), Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976), Alexander Borovsky (1889-1968) and many others contributed to its lustre and reputation. The Conservatory became a symbol that the Russian community was both proud of and generous towards. Today, Count Pierre Cheremetiev, a fervent promoter of Russian musical culture, presides over it. New constraints and regulations require the Conservatory to undergo significant renovation. As such, the decision has been made to sell three masterpieces from the collection to allow the Conservatory to continue in its mission of musical education and to endure as a symbol of the Russian soul in Paris. Soudbinine’s impressive marble bust of Sobinov is a magnificent portrayal of the famous tenor by an extraordinary artist, executed at the time of the Diaghilev’s first Russian season in Paris. The large Stelletsky, Les Radeaux, is a vibrant expression of the vital determination of the Russians to preserve their culture and territorial unity, while Child with doll, full of freshness and charm, is a master pastel drawing by Zichy without parallel on the market in recent history. The Conservatory is not a museum and most of its artworks are not on view to the public; these three magnificent works will enter a new stage in their history while remaining a precious testimony to the Russian soul in either the museums or important private collections they go on to grace.
Mikhail Zichy (1827-1906)

Child with doll

Mikhail Zichy (1827-1906)
Child with doll
signed, inscribed and dated 'Zichy. Paris 1875' (lower left)
charcoal and watercolour, heightened with white, on paper
43 5/8 x 32 1/8 in. (110.8 x 81.5 cm.)
Donated to the Conservatoire Russe de Paris Serge Rachmaninoff.
Sale Room Notice
Please note this work depicts Baron Dimitry de Gunzburg (1870-1917).

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Aleksandra Babenko
Aleksandra Babenko

Lot Essay

The favourite portrait artist of both Nicholas I (1796-1855) and Alexander II (1818-1881), Mikhail Zichy was born in 1827 in Zala, Hungary. He first travelled to Russia in 1847 on the invitation of Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna (1807-1873) who engaged the artist to instruct her daughter, Ekaterina Mikhailovna (1827-1894) in painting and drawing. After completing a number of studies depicting the coronation of Alexander II, Zichy was duly awarded the title of Academician by the St Petersburg Academy in 1856; he was named Court Painter in 1859 and remained so until 1873. Zichy settled in Paris from 1874 until 1881. Free from the restrictions of Imperial patronage and portraiture, he became acquainted with Gustave Doré (1832-1883) who was introduced to him on his first visit to Paris in 1862 by Théophile Gautier (1811-1872), one of the most prominent Romantic French writers.

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