A Spectacular Auction of Russian and European Fine and Decorative Art at Gene Shapiro

By: PRLog
A mix of rare icons and contemporary fine art dominated the spring sale at Gene Shapiro Auctions in New York City

PRLog - May 23, 2013 - MANHATTAN, N.Y. -- This past weekend on May 18th, 2013, Gene Shapiro Auctions held an auction featuring a spectacular selection of Russian and European fine and decorative art at their Upper East Side headquarters in New York City. The auction, although with a special emphasis on never-before seen icons and contemporary Russian fine art, brought together a diverse selection of works ranging from Fabergé and Imperial objets d’art, to rare books, Old Master paintings and militaria. Over 300 international bidders, including those from the Unites States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, China, Latin America, and Australia participated in the auction.

The first portion of the sale featured a fierce battle over a collection of Russian icons, many of which came to the United States in the early decades of the 20th century. Having been brought out of the Soviet Union at a critical time just as ancient churches and monasteries were being taken over by the government and converted to Anti-Religious museums, these icons stand at the crossroads of Russia’s ancient and modern history. In the States, the icons were kept in esteemed family collections, including that of Blanchette Ferry Hooker Rockefeller, a major benefactor of the Museum of Modern Art, where she served as president from 1972 to 1985, and John D. Rockefeller III. Multiple lots brought in over ten times their high estimates and attracted large groups of bidders, with some of the icons drawing more than a dozen international phone bidders. A 17th century icon of the Deisis depicting the figure of Christ flanked by the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist was sold for $38,400, many times its pre-sale estimate (lot 2, $2,300-3,000).  While an 18th century icon in a metal filigree oklad with the Virgin Mary known as In Thee Rejoiceth, was sold for $37,200 (lot 9).

Printed matter, including rare books such as Theodore de Pauly’s 1862 volume, Description ethnographique des Peuples de la Russie (lot 74, $55,200), and A. V. Morozov’s four volume set My Collection of Russian Engraved and Lithographed Portraits (lot 75, $31,200) attracted a lot of attention, as well. While the complete thirty-plate folio comprising Eine Nachlese by Gustav Klimt, lot 115, greatly surpassed its high estimate (lot 115, est. $2,500-3,000) selling for $10,800.

Gene Shapiro’s wide selection of decorative art, including the ornately decorated 19th c. silver Georgian wine vessel with a twisted neck (lot 272, $4,500), proved to be of particular interest to collectors. Another highlight, a Russian Imperial porcelain cup and saucer from the period of Nicholas II, hand-painted shortly after the collapse of the Empire in 1919 by Alexandra Schekatikhina-Pototskaya, presented an unusual connection between two key periods of Russian history (lot 344, $3,600). As in the previous auctions, portrait miniatures, including likenesses of Tsars Nicholas I and Alexander II by Iwan Winberg continued to draw a large audience (lots 312, $18,000 and 313, $14,400).

Particularly in demand were the works of Modern 19th and 20th century artists. The auction featured a delicate gouache by Jean Dufy, originally exhibited at the James Vigeveno Galleries in Los Angeles (lot 107). Konstantin Korovin’s oil painting of peasants merrymaking in the Russian countryside, titled The Pub, for instance, was sold for $28,800, several times its high estimate (lot 162, $6,000-8,000). Similarly, a group of four lots featuring works by Rimma and Leonid Brailowsky, acquired directly from the descendants of the artists and belonging to their series of works titled “Visions of Old Russia” drew a large audience (lots 157 to 160). Contemporary artists such as Mihail Chemiakin, who was represented at the auction by works in a variety of media including pastel, oil, and bronze did particularly well, with his two bronzes from the Carnival at Saint Petersburg series achieving more than triple their pre-sale estimate (lot 221, $36,000).  A large portion of the auction was also comprised of work by masters of Russian Non-Conformist and contemporary art from the famous ZigZag corporate collection, where they were acquired directly from the artists in the 1990s. The collection included works by Leonid Purygin, Alexander Sitnikov, and Dmitry Plavinsky, as well as many others.

The next sale at Gene Shapiro Auctions is scheduled to take place on July 13, 2013 with a focus on American art, followed by a sale of Russian, American, Latin American and European fine and decorative art in the autumn of 2013. Consignments are currently being accepted for the autumn sale until the middle of August. For a free estimate or a certified art appraisal, please contact info@geneshapiro.com or call 212-717-7500. You may view the auction catalog on the company's website at www.GeneShapiro.com.

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