On 25 May 2013 the Auction House of the Russian Federation will hold an auction of antiques and artworks. According to established tradition, Константин Егорович Маковский «Боярышня»works of Russian and Western European painting, decorative and applied art and jewelry, and also rare old books will be on sale at the auction.

Among the top lots of the painting section are works by outstanding artists of the 19th-20th centuries – Konstantin Makovsky, Vasily Surikov, Ivan Yendogurov, Vasily Polenov, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, Konstantin Somov and Boris Kustodiev.

The work of Konstantin Makovsky is represented by the portrait “The Boyar’s Daughter”, which was painted in the 1880s. In this period, the artist was working on the painting “Minin on Nizhny Novgorod Square, calling the people to give alms”. This truly monumental canvas of six by seven meters was planned by Makovsky during his years of study at the Moscow academy of painting, sculpture and architecture, and he only finished the work in 1896. At present, the painting is held at the Nizhny Novgorod state art museum. The portrait of the boyar’s daughter that is up for auction is a preparatory work for this grandiose canvas.

Аlso of great interest is the work “Among the Teachers” by Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov, dated to the last quarter of the 19th century. Biblical subjects occupy a large place in the artistic heritage of the painter. In 1892, Polenov began to work on a large canvas with a similar name, which is now held in the State Tretyakovsky Gallery. The gallery has a similar sketch of smaller size. The painting “Among the Teachers” that is up for auction may be regarded as a preparatory work, in which Polenov searched for elements of the future compositional and color design. The author himself described the subject of the work: “The interior of one of the rooms in the Temple in Jerusalem; to the left a Pharisee sits in a chair, and on the floor, on the rug there is a group of elderly teachers, and among them is the boy Jesus; to the right in the corner there is a stone staircase and an open portico, among which the figures of Joseph and Mary can be seen, who were looking for Jesus and found him here.”

Of considerable collectors’ value is a drawing by “Commissar” Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin – one of the most important and original Russian artists of the first half of the 20th century. The drawing was made in the 1920s. In this period, the author created a series of works dedicated to people of his reborn revolutionary Motherland, a series that came to occupy a special place in his work. The theme of the heroism of the Civil War found its fullest and highest embodiment in Petrov-Vodkin’s work at that time. The work up for auction comes from the collection of the famous Moscow doctor and collector Anatoly Vladimirovich Smolyannikov (1913-200).

In the section of mass-produced graphic art, experts will undoubtedly be interested in the sets of rare posters from the times of the First World War and the Russo-Japanese War. And there is also an interesting collection of posters of dog shows from the collection of the renowned literary critic and Lermontov specialist Nikolai Pakhomov (1890-1978).

Before the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the House of the Romanovs, the main theme of the old book section will be books devoted to the history of various Russian ministries and services during the rule of the dynasty. One outstanding book in this section is the richly illustrated historical anthology “Ministry of Finances. 1802-1902”, which was published on the 100th anniversary of the ministry at the initiative of the prominent Russian finance minister Sergey Vitte. The book “St. Petersburg Capital Police and City Administration. 1703-1902. A Brief Historical Sketch” also contains unique historical material, based on genuine documents from the archive of the Senate, the State Council and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and was published in 1903, for the 200th anniversary of the Petersburg police. It is very interesting that beside the large number of portraits of high-ranking police and archive documents, the book also contains sheet music – the march of the capital police.

Furthermore, the second-hand book section includes several books from the personal libraries of members of the House of the Romanovs, for example, “The History of Lots in the 100 Years of Their Existence. 1797-1897”, a luxurious edition on the history of state power in Russia, which was not sold, and only given to high-ranking state officials. This rare three-volume edition is from the personal library, Princess Yelizaveta Mavrikievna, the wife of Prince Konstantin Konstaninovich, the grandson of Emperor Nicholas I.

The decorative and applied art section features the sculpture “Flat Torso”, by Alexander Porfirievich Arkhipenko (1887-1964), one of the founders of cubism and sculpture. The model was made in the Paris period of the master’s work (1908-1921) and elaborated in the period of his life in America (1923-1964). Arkhipenko constantly made changes to his early works, in search of a more concentrated expression of “plastic form of beauty”. The sculptor gave enormous importance to working on the surface of his works. The sculpture up for auction is dated to the period of 1960s by its characteristics. We know that in these late years, the author began to cast his early works The provenance of the object confirms this dating: the sculpture was given to the owner in 1986 by работ. тJim Boren, a renowned American sculptor and writer who acquired it from the sculptor previously.

The auction catalogue also includes a collection of Orthodox icons from the 19th to early 20th centuries. Of special interest from the artistic viewpoint are the paired icons “The Almighty Lord” and “Saint Nicholas the Miracle-worker” in silver frames, decorated by filigree enamel. The icons were made in 1912-1917 at Mishukov’s famous jewelry workshop. Fyodor Yakovlevich Mishukov (1881-1966) was a silver craftsman, a Moscow gold-worker and jeweler who continued the craft of his father Yakov Mishukov. At that time, in the Mishukov workshop, icon-settings were made in which the ornamentation and style of the Novgorod icons of the 16th century were precisely reproduced. The items of the Mishukov workshop are held in collections of the State History Museum and the State Russian Museum. It is most likely that the icons up for auction are from a home icon-case, which was also supposed to include an icon of the Blessed Virgin.

Traditionally, the antique auctions of the Auction House of the Russian Federation are adorned with an exquisite selection of jewelry. This time, the jewelry section includes works by such suppliers to the imperial court as Faberge and Bolin.

Besides jewelry, in the catalogue we may also see small decorative items with jewelry design. For example, a decorative ladle made of jade by the craftsman Johann Viktor Aarne  (1863–1934), one of the famous Petersburg jewelers of Finnish origin who worked for the Faberge firm from 1891 to 1904. The handmade ladle was decorate with an coin with a depiction of Catherine the Great, a gold fifty-kopeck piece. These coins were minted for the needs of the imperial court, and were not used in commercial circulation. They were used in the court, for example for card games. On the facing side of the coin is a shoulder-length portrait of Catherine the Great and the inscription “YEKATERINA II IMP”.

The pre-auction exhibition will be held in the exhibition hall of the Moscow office of the AHR in Gostiny Dvor (Khrustalny per. d. 1 from 19 to 24 May 2013.

Press showing: 21 May at 17.00