25 November 2012
Guard. Costume Design for "The Tale of Tsar Saltan", signed twice, once with initials, inscribed “‘Tsar Saltan’/Strazhnik” and dated 1929.
Pencil, watercolour and gouache on cardboard, 45.5 by 36 cm.
Provenance: Collection of Ambassador Charles Richard Crane, USA.
Bilibine produced the present costume design for a production of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris.
The present work comes from the collection of the American businessman and diplomat Charles Richard Crane (1858–1939). Over the course of his travels and diplomatic missions, Crane amassed one of the greatest private art collections, including works by Russian artists.
Crane was one of the first Americans to build such an important collection of Russian paintings, graphic works and icons. He acquired works directly from the artists or their relatives, not infrequently commissioning pictures himself. With his impeccable taste and understanding of art, Crane was able to collect seminal works by such eminent Russian painters as Vereshchagin, Roerich, Nesterov, Vasnetsov and many others.
Heir to a dynasty of American industrialists, Crane headed the family company, R.T. Crane Brass and Bell Foundry. On entering retirement he devoted himself completely to politics, international diplomacy and philanthropy. Crane set up numerous stipends, prizes, research institutions and organisations to provide support for artists, writers, journalists and others in the field of the humanities.
Even after the Russian Revolution of 1917 Crane visited the country as part of Elihu Root’s special diplomatic mission whose aim was to secure cooperation between the USA and the Government of Soviet Russia. Since Crane had always been exceptionally interested in cultural matters, he met and befriended many intellectuals, artists and other figures of that milieu, and devoted considerable time to finding and acquiring works of art. His outstanding collection is the best evidence of this.
Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.