Chronology : 1840-1849 1850-1859 1896
1740 The Ioann Ruble
2012 SOLD 3.6 MCHF before fees by Sincona
narrated in 2020
The Saint-Petersburg mint prepares the coins for the future reign. The pattern silver rubles dated 1740 bear on the obverse the Cyrillic inscription Ioann III by the grace of God Emperor and Autocrat of All Russia. On the same side, the traditional imperial effigy is replaced by a large 3 interlaced with two I. The reverse is illustrated with the two-headed eagle with its attributes : the crown, the shield, the scepter and the orb.
This design is immediately obsolete : the child's reign name is not Ioann III but Ivan VI. Only five units have been identified. One of them was sold for CHF 3.6M before fees by Sincona on October 9, 2012, lot 227 here linked on the NumisBids auction platform. The location of the other four has not been established.
In 1741 the child grew up and the new rubles are minted with his effigy at one year old. His father overthrew the regent. The Russians fear the return of the German influence and overthrow the child and his mother by a coup d'état in December 1741. Ivan VI's coins are redeemed and their possession is made illegal.
Another difficult succession will generate in 1825 the other top rarity of the Romanov numismatics, the pattern ruble prepared in the name and effigy of Grand Duke Constantine before he formally refuses to ascend the throne. Eight units are known.
>1797 What sort of Badge was worn at the Imperial Court of Russia
2008 SOLD 2.7 M£ including premium
We also know that everything coming from imperial origines of all countries make collectors and scholars dreaming.
The brooch (the word used in English by Sotheby's is badge), which is lot 540 of the sale of Sotheby's in London on June 12, comes from the crown jewels of Imperial Russia. In imposing size (13 x 9 cm, 160 grams), its low estimate of 400 K£ is even less surprising when we know that it is covered with 45 carats of diamonds.
Its drawing, very fine, has two bodies: the main part is an eagle with two heads and with wings and tail deployed. This one is partly covered by a cross of St Andrew with the image of the saint. Over it, there is the beautiful image of the imperial crown. All of this is in diamonds except the eyes of the eagle which are rubies and beaks and claws which are gold.
The jewel was made around 1800 as a decoration of the Order of St. Andrew. It was a privilege of the tsar's family to wear this type of decorations in the great occasions of the State. The descent from that piece is known: given by the Imperial family to the ducal family of Oldenburg, it returned in 1890 to Empress Maria Feodorovna, who wore it.
The estimate is very open, with a high estimate at 600 K £. But is there really a price for such a treasure?
POST SALE COMMENT
The treasure has now a price: £ 2.7 million charge included.
It is an excellent result which will refer.
1825 The Short Reign of Constantine of Russia
2021 SOLD for $ 2.64M including premium
Constantine, who is the commander of the Polish army, wants the will to be respected. Nicholas prefers the order of primogeniture and pays homage to his brother. Constantine remains in his position, without deeming it necessary to make an official proclamation. The confusion worsens on December 14 with the attempted military coup of the Decembrists. Nicholas can no longer wait : he suppresses the insurrection and accepts the power.
Alexander, bored of power, had announced his intention to abdicate. His finance minister Egor Kankrin was not aware of his last wishes : the Saint-Petersburg factory was preparing the silver ruble of Constantine's reign. Curiously, the obverse has the effigy of the emperor, a tradition that had not been maintained under the two previous reigns.
Eight coins have survived, five with a lettered edge and three with a plain edge. This project has been classified as a state secret by Kankrin at Nicholas's accession and the chronology proposed by the experts for these various strikes is not convincing.
One of the plain edged coins was made with brand new dies, without any deterioration or rust. Graded Proof 62 by NGC and described as Choice Brilliant Uncirculated, it was sold for $ 600K including premium on January 15, 2004 by Markov, lot 776, the highest price recorded at that time for a non-US coin. It is estimated US $ 400K for sale by Stack's Bowers in Hong Kong on April 6, lot 50103.
In @stacksbowers April 2021 Hong Kong Auction we will be offering a 1825-CNB St. Petersburg Mint Silver Ruble Pattern graded as PF-62. Estimates are $400,000-600,000. View Lot 50103's Coins in Motion video at https://t.co/eyhK5zF2s5. Bid on the coin here: https://t.co/W3DSnLzSos pic.twitter.com/STXvbg788J— Stack's Bowers (@StacksBowers) April 2, 2021
1833 The Gigantic Porcelains of St. Petersburg
2013 SOLD 2.2 M£ including premium
This exceptional lot is now estimated £ 2M, for sale by Sotheby's in London on November 26. I republish below my article issued before the cancellation of the Dallas auction lot.
In a style imitating Sèvres, the porcelains from the Imperial Factory of St. Petersburg reached gigantic sizes in the reign of Nicholas I, becoming one of the best symbols of the Tsarist opulence at that time. These vases, most often presented in pairs, are true engineering feats.
During the 1920s that were so difficult economically for Russia, one of these pairs was purchased by an American oil tycoon to garnish his mansion in Oklahoma City. They were in this place since so long that the heirs were not aware of their historical importance and felt them rather cumbersome.
Like all other pieces in this category, they are bandeau shaped with gilt handles of acanthus leaves. The picture on one of them, showing a concert, is a copy of a painting that was lent by the Hermitage to the Factory in 1832 to serve as a model.
The porcelains of Oklahoma are dated 1833 and their height, 1.38 m, is particularly noteworthy. The later pair unsold at Christie's in November 2011, dated 1835 and 1836, had the same size. Made still later, in 1848, the pair sold £ 2.6 million including premium by Sotheby's on 10 June 2009 had the largest size reached during the reign of Nicholas, 1.50 m.
POST SALE COMMENT
This lot was sold for £ 2.2 million including premium, confirming the opinion of Sotheby's that it is one of the most beautiful pair of vases from St. Petersburg.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's :
1848 The Presentation of the Ceramics to the Tsar
2009 SOLD 2.6 M£ including premium
Financially, these gifts were offset by increasing orders from the Emperor for offering similar pieces to his allies in the ruling royal and ducal families of other countries. I have already had occasion to note in this group the role that gifting had for aristocratic cohesion at the Imperial court of Russia.
The pair of porcelain vases from St. Petersburg that Sotheby's is selling in London on June 10 is a technical feat. Dated 1848, 1.5 meters high, it is the largest format that has been done at that time by this factory.
These enormous vases are adorned with ring shaped reproductions of paintings from the collection of Catherine the Great, in this case two stables scenes of Philips Wouwerman.
Russians love the memories of the palace. The estimate also is imperial: £ 1.2 million.
POST SALE COMMENT
The estimate was literally exploded, which is rare at such a price level. This confirms the exceptional nature of this pair of vases, sold £ 2.6 million including premium.
1856 view of Constantinople by Aivazovsky
2012 SOLD for £ 3.23M including premium by Sotheby's
Shared by Wikimedia :
1860 Ivan Shishkin at the School of the Forest
2010 SOLD 1.87 M£ including premium
We have already met Mikhail Klodt choosing for his masterpiece of 1858 a bucolic view in Livonia. Here is now Ivan Shishkin, also just out of the same school in 1860.
Throughout his life, Shishkin will show the vast Russian forests. The quality of light and the realistic precision of his paintings made him the undisputed master of clearings and woods.
In 1860, he chose Valaam, a small island in Lake Ladoga in Karelia, famous for its beautiful rocky landscapes. His oil on canvas, 105 x 148 cm, still has a small taste of romantism with its boat of wanderers in the background. It is estimated £ 900K, for sale on December 2 by MacDougall's in London, and is illustrated in the article shared by Artdaily.
The circle of the Itinerants will be founded in 1870, and Shishkin is to be one of the most famous members. The paintings of this artist that we see at auction are usually subsequent to that date.
POST SALE COMMENT
The fans liked this early work of Shishkin well beyond the estimate. It was sold £ 1.87 million including premium.
In the same sale, a small oil on canvas by Nikolai Fechin, 76 x 51 cm, titled the Little Cowboy, was sold £ 7M including premium on an estimate of £ 500K. Remember that Fechin is this Russian artist who specialized in the Far West and has lived in Taos.
1873 The Mystery of the Mary Celeste
2007 SOLD for £ 2.7M including premium by Christie's
Ivan Aivazovsky had traveled extensively during the 1840s, first to finish his studies and then as an official painter to the Russian navy.
He became a specialist of the Grand Tour images on which his deeply glowing romantic skies illuminated easily recognizable landscapes, mostly but not only by the sea. He maintained throughout his career this Mediterranean imaging which opened to him the access to lucrative exhibitions in Europe.
An oil on canvas 109 x 132 cm dated 1873 assesses his attentive interest in maritime events.
In December 1872 a two-masted American ship named Mary Celeste was found abandoned at sea between Azores and Portugal. The lifeboat was gone but the cargo had not been looted. The ghost ship was conducted to Gibraltar where it was awaiting the outcome of the judicial investigation.
Aivazovsky's painting is titled American shipping off the Rock of Gibraltar. Far away in the mist, the steep profile of the rock is perfectly recognizable. The rough seas are shaking the tall ship while a lifeboat filled to the brim by sailors adds an epic dimension into the forefront.
This painting was sold for £ 2.7 million including premium byChristie's in London on 13 June 2007. It comes back in the same auction room on June 1, lot 53 estimated £ 2M.
No seafarer from the Mary Celeste was ever retrieved and the mystery was never cleared up.
Shared by Wikimedia :
1875 Artist's Life in Paris
2011 SOLD 4.5 M£ including premium
Young Russian artist who came to Paris in 1873 to complete his training, Ilya Repin is carried into the vortex, like the Baron of La Vie Parisienne, the great theater success on the boulevard.
Painstakingly, after long watching of his fellow poets, artists and actresses, he painted this "Café du Boulevard" which was exhibited at the Salon in 1875, and raised the wrath of his Russian teachers.
Taking on a cosmopolitan mix as a theme is a betrayal by a young man who was trained to illustrate the beauty of traditions. Still worse, it is a café, that place of subversion housing since the French Révolution the most passionate political discussions.
This large oil on canvas, 120 x 192 cm, shown on the release shared by Artdaily, is for sale by Christie's in London on June 6.
Repin admired Manet but did not follow the path of the Impressionists. He will become a respected classical artist, author of realistic portraits and historical, social and religious scenes.
The café scene is a daring feat of his early career, when he was still tempted at rebelling against the official schools. But it also paved the way for similar themes, the following year, by Renoir and Manet. This is not necessarily what buyers are seeking, and the estimate, £ 3M, is ambitious.
1879 Vereshchagin, the Vedutista of Asia
2011 SOLD 3.1 M$ including premium
He was also a tireless traveler, and this aspect of his art is being rediscovered. He died of his dual passion for war and travel during the siege of Port Arthur.
His travel paintings belong to the Orientalist trend, and he had been a pupil of Gérôme. However, his themes are more touristic than anecdotal. The care to detail, light, color makes Vereshchagin a vedutista of Asia.
His journey in India lasted two years, from 1874 to 1876. On June 6, 2011, Sotheby's sold £ 2.3 million including premium an oil on canvas, 47 x 61 cm, showing the Taj Mahal at sunset. It had been estimated £ 250K.
Inspired by the same trip but completed in 1879, a view showing the front side of the Pearl Mosque in Delhi, sunny and animated by a few worshippers, is a masterpiece of the artist. This canvas 3.90 x 4.80 m, estimated $ 3M, is for sale by Sotheby's in New York on November 1. It is shown in the release shared by AuctionPublicity.
Note also from auction archives an oil on canvas from a later journey: a view of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, 200 x 152 cm, painted circa 1885, which was sold $ 3.6 million including premium at Christie's on April 18, 2007.
POST SALE COMMENT
Despite its monumental size, the mosque of Delhi remained below its estimate. Including fees, this painting was sold $ 3.1 million including premium.
In the same sale, two lots confirm that modern Russian art is among the most unpredictable sectors of the market.
Entitled Street in Moscow, an early painting by Goncharova, in naive style, was sold $ 6.35 million including premium on an estimate of $ 1.2 M.
A monumental early painting by Fechin on the theme of a wedding scene in a Russian province was sold $ 3.3 million including premium, in line with its estimate. It confirms that the exceptional result, £ 7M including premium recorded by MacDougall's on December 2, 2010 for another work by Fechin especially rewarded the theme: the portrait of a young boy as a cowboy.
1885 Wailing Wall in Jerusalem by Vereshchagin
2007 SOLD for $ 3.6M including premium by Christie's
1896 The Twilight of Shishkin
2013 SOLD 2.15 M£ including premium
He retired from teaching in 1896 and decided to devote more time to outdoor painting. He shares this activity between two residential sites, Vyra where he owns a dacha and Siverskaya which he had visited all along his career.
Gradually, his interest is shifting from realism to impression. The forest is now seen as a whole and not just as a juxtaposition of majestic trees.
An example comes from Vyra. A clearing in an oak forest, oil on canvas 119 x 171 cm, was sold for $ 3.2 million including premium by Christie's on 18 April 2008.
Also painted in 1896, a twilight in the pine forest of Siverskaya is for sale on June 5 by MacDougall's in London. This oil on canvas, 162 x 121 cm, is estimated £ 1.2 M.
Shishkin expresses the purity of the evening light after a storm. He is not a poet like Aivazovsky. His art and colors are totally realistic, but he now attaches the utmost attention to extreme lights of the day.
Unfortunately this highly productive period was too short. Shishkin died at work two years later.