MacDougall's to Host the First Soviet and Post-Soviet Art Auction

MacDougall's to Host the First Soviet and Post-Soviet Art Auction
Aleksandr Deineka’s oil “Behind the Curtain," 1933. Estimate: £2–3 million ($3.1–4.6 million million).
(MacDougall's )

On October 12, MacDougall’s Fine Art Auctions will hold its sale of Soviet and Post-Soviet art, the first combined auction of Soviet and Post-Soviet art to hit the market. It will also be the house’s first auction in a series of mid-season sales dedicated to Russian art.

Roughly 177 lots will be offered—spanning paintings and porcelain by Russian artists from the late 1920s to the early 2000s—and the house expects to bring in a total of more than £3.5 million ($5.3 million). The majority of works come from several major Western collections of Russian and Soviet art, and estimates range from £1,500 ($2,300) to £2 million ($3.1 million), with most lots valued at £15,000 ($23,000).


The auction will offer works bridging nearly every major 20th century art movement in Russia and the Soviet Union. Work by artists from the Academy of Fine Arts of the USSR, including Arkady Plastov and Dmitri Nalbandian will be available, along with Soviet Nonconformist artists Vladimir Nemukhin, founder of the Lianozov group, and Vladimir and Georgii Stenberg. Work by members of the Society of Easel-Painters (OST) will also be represented, including by Aleksandr Deineka and Yuri Pimenov.

The headliner is Aleksandr Deineka’s oil “Behind the Curtain” from 1933, which features a nude female lurking behind dark panels.  Due to the nudity in the work, the painting was never exhibited, but gifted to the artist’s friend Fedor Bogorodsky. With an estimate of £2 million ($3.1 million) to £3 million ($4.6 million), the painting is an example of the Soviet proclamation of the absence of sex in the USSR. Nikolai Terpsikhorov’s 1947 oil “Letter from the Front”—an emotional work that shows two characters seated at a table, a girl reading a soldier’s letter, and a more mature woman seated on the left—has an estimate of £60,000 ($92,000) to £90,000 ($137,000). Of several works entering the market for the very first time, highlights include Oscar Rabin’s dark colored painting “Bread at the Cemetery” from 1964, which has an estimate of £30,000 ($46,000) to £50,0000 ($76,000).