Russian sales at Bonham’s

б. Exter. Seven against Thebes. Oil on canvas. Estimate £600 000–800 000. Lot is not sold. Bonham’s. The Russian Sale. London, November 24

On November 24 – 27, the traditional week of Russian art was held in London. The largest auction houses of the world including Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonham’s exposed on sales thousands of works by Russian masters – classical and modern painting, icons, works of graphic and applied art. Certainly, the depression of art market affected the results of a week – results of the sales did not justified expectations of auctioneers. On the other hand, Russian art proved its popularity. It shows acceptable percent of sales and some large records. Sotheby’s and Christie’s showed the best results while Bonham’s and Mac Dougall could not compete. There are some reasons. Participants of MacDougall auction noted very high estimates and expressed readiness to wait for the reduction of prices.

The reason of unsuccessful Bonham’s auctions held on November 24 is also in incorrect pricing. The auction house managed to sell only 85 from 244 lots.

The main top lot – the picture Seven against Thebes by Alexandra Exter (1884–1949) from a catalogue cover was not sold. The picture is not dated. However it is possible to assume that it relates to the late period of creativity of the artist. Seven against Thebes is a real masterpiece of Russian avant-guard. However nobody wanted to pay for masterpiece £600 000-800 000.

Natalia Sergeevna Goncharova’s picture Winter: the Woodcutter was sold by auction for £150 000. It became the highest Bonham’s result for this time. This picture took part in the exposition of works by M. Larionov and G. Goncharova organized in 1961 in London by the British Council of Arts.

The early work by Vasily Vasilevich Kandinsky (1866–1944) At Sea Coast was sold for £120 000. The picture is a small portrait of a woman at a seacoast executed in the medium of gouache. Experts date this work to 1904-1906. Earlier At Sea Coast was in the collection of celebrated collector J.E. Rubinstein.

Ivan Konstantinovich Ayvazovsky’s sea landscape At Storm was sold for the same sum. The picture was painted in 1893. It became a real “classics of the genre” with all its necessary attributes – storming sea, seagulls and grey low clouds. Painting of the 19th – the early 20th century made a major part of the sales of the auction house. Modern art as well as icons were not so popular. A string of applied art mainly featured works by Faberge. Among them is the graceful nephritic framework for photos by H. Armfelt. The lot was sold for £84 000.

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Published in: on January 12, 2009 at 11:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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