A number of important masterpieces lead MacDougall's
Russian Art Auction on 26 November 2014, starting with Portrait of Duane von Vechten, painted by Nicholas Fechin at the peak of his fame (estimate £900,0002,000,000). The sitter was the adopted daughter of a wealthy Chicago banker, Ralph Van Vechten, who became Fechins early friend and patron after the artist had moved to the USA. For many years it was kept in the Van Vechten estate in Taos, New Mexico.
No less important is the provenance of another top lot, Reclining Nude by Mikhail Larionov (estimate £1,500,0002,000,000), coming from the collection of Aleksandra Tomilina, the artists second wife and muse. This rare painting belongs to the remarkable series of Larionovs life works of the 1900s. Executed after the artists first trip to Paris, it is an important example of Postimpressionism in Russian art.
Collectors of works by Nicholas Roerich will be delighted at the inclusion of three unique paintings from the artists different periods. The earliest is the astonishingly dynamic The Doomed City (estimate £800,0001,200,000). Roerich finished it just a few months before the outbreak of the First World War. The painting was perceived as a prophetic image which greatly impressed Maxim Gorky, the works first owner, and the Strugatsky brothers, who borrowed the paintings title for their famous novel.
It took Roerich two years to paint The Treasure (estimate £1,400,0002,000,000), and the work became the summation of the artist's spiritual and artistic quest during his sojourn in Karelia and Finland in the late 1910s. The third painting by Roerich offered at MacDougalls, And We Continue Fishing (estimate £1,000,0001,500,000), was from Sancta, the most significant of his pre-Himalayan series. These six works were conceived as a celebration of the values that would curtail the spread of the world decline. At present, only two are in private hands, with the rest in the Roerich Museum in Moscow.
The forthcoming sale will feature works by Ilya Repin, Boris Grigoriev and Vladimir Makovsky, coming from the important collection of a British gentleman whose love for all things Russian was ignited when he learnt Russian during his military service.
As has been a tradition at MacDougalls, a separate section of the auction will be devoted to the sale of icons and works of art. One of the most valuable lots there is a rare large carved nephrite model of an elephant by Fabergé, offered in the original box (estimate £250,000 300,000).
Speaking before the auction, Catherine MacDougall, Director, said "I am confident that Russian art will continue to be one of the most safe and secure investment options, as well as bringing emotional satisfaction, prompting the owners to seek out beauty in the world against all odds."