Themed auction at Shishkin’s gallery

The Leonid Shishkin Gallery held the long-advertised themed auction “The Theater and the Artist” at his venue at the Ukraine hotel. Before the auction, Leonid showed the building of his new gallery in the London suburbs on a screen, and recommended that customers buy Russian art from him. For the first time at this gallery, a themed collection was gathered, and the traditional boundaries of this theme were also widened for the first time. The organizers presented works by contemporary theater artists who are already widely recognized in the professional environment: Yury Ustinov, Tatyana Spasolomskaya and Irina Akimova. Their designs for decorations and costumes sold well, with an average price range from 10,000 to 40,000 rubles. The top lots of the auction, the large watercolor of B. Kustodiev, “Puppets”, with a starting price of 5 million rubles, and the design for decoration for “The Lady with the Camelias” by Yu. Pimenov for 3.5 million rubles did not find a buyer. Genuine material for collectors, alas, does not find connoisseurs nowadays. There was only one gentleman who followed the auction with interest, and he bought several interesting but inexpensive works. After the auction he introduced himself to Shishkin as a collector of works on this theme.

Unique items – the notebook of Leon Bakst with drawings and notes, an absolute rarity, and the album of the famous ballet-masters of the late 19th-early 20th century, the brothers Nikolai and Sergei Legat, “Russian ballet in caricatures” – were offered at a quite acceptable price, but remained unsold. But one lot drew interest, which Shishkin presented as the work of the “Bakst Studio” – the design of a costume for a 1914 production of Richard Strauss’ opera “The Legend of Joseph”, which had a starting price of 130,000 rubles and sold for 175,000. Watercolors by Alexander Benois, a traditional sight at our auction, sold well – the landscape drawing “The Imperial stables in Petergof” had a starting price of 85,000 rubles and sold for 150,000; his “Versailles” started at 330,000 rubles and was sold for 430,000 rubles.

A fine selection of characteristic art deco sculpture was on sale at this themed auction – figures of dancers made of bronze with various décor of ivory or other materials, but only “The Dancer” by Chiparius was sold, and was purchased over the telephone for 2 million rubles. Of the 133 lots, 65 were sold, just under 50%. In our opinion, the extensive work carried out to gather themed works proved worthwhile. New material, and a new generation of Russian artists, has been put on the market. The wonderful auction catalogue with its balanced prices will become an excellent reference work for market participants.

Nadezhda Nazarevskaya, antiques columnist