A Russian carved ebony grand piano
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A Russian carved ebony grand piano

THE MOVEMENT BY BECKER, ST. PETERSBURG, SERIAL NUMBER 9751, CIRCA 1871-1880

Details
A Russian carved ebony grand piano
The movement by Becker, St. Petersburg, Serial number 9751, Circa 1871-1880
The lid with carved-acanthus edge, the fold-over section with three carved panels centred by a circular medallion with the Romanov double-headed eagle above a shield raised with A III, the outer panels carved with a ribbon-tied flaming urn, bow and quiver, the sliding adjustable music rest centred by a ribbon-tied oval medallion with musical trophy, flanked by carved scrolling branches, the keyboard cover decorated with a floral chain frieze and signed D. Becker, the mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell keyboard flanked by scrolled volutes above a lyre-shaped pedal support, the sides with seven panels each carved with a ribbon-tied musical trophy flanked by scrolling foliate branches, resting on three baluster-shaped legs each headed by a female mask, on casters; the soundboard with stencilled cyrillic inscriptions and further heraldic armorials
39¼ in. (100 cm.) high, closed; 75½ in. (192 cm.) high, open; 58¼ in. (148 cm.) wide; 82 in. (208 cm.) long
Provenance
Almost certainly supplied to Tsar Alexander III, possibly as a coronation gift in 1881.
Probably Tsarina Maria Fyodorovna, Copenhagen, until 1928.
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

With its movement dating from circa 1872-80, and profusely carved with the Romanov double-headed eagle shield and initials of Alexander III, this fine piano was almost certainly supplied to the penultimate Tsar as a gift on the occasion of his coronation in 1881. Alexander's wife, Princess Marie Sophie Frederikke Dagmar (1847-1928) was born the second daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark. However, for most of her life she was known as Maria Fyodorovna, the name she adopted on converting to the Russian Orthodox church immediately prior to her marriage. Alexander III died in 1894 and despite the Revolution in 1917 the Empress Maria at first refused to leave Russia. It was only in 1919, at the urging of her sister Alexandra, that she grudgingly departed. After a brief stay in London, she returned to her native Denmark, choosing as her home her former holiday villa near Copenhagen, where she remained until her death in 1928 at the age of 81. Following services in Copenhagen's Orthodox church, she was interred at Roskilde Cathedral. In 2005, the governments of Denmark and Russia agreed that the Empress's remains should be returned to St. Petersburg, where she will finally be interred next to her beloved husband and rest of the Romanovs in the St Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg. The ceremony will take place from 23 to 28 September 2006. With the present owner confirming that this piano has been in a private collection in Denmark for many years, it seems highly plausible that it was among the furnishings the Tsarina took with her on her exile from Russia.

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