Portrait of Nadezhda Sapozhnikova (1908) oil on canvas, 142 by 90cm, £1,200,000-1,800,000The artist was presumably undeniably proud of this work, given it was one of just two paintings he selected for his debut exhibition in the United States in 1910, where it hung alongside works by Manet, Pisarro and Sisley. Contemporary reviewers commented that this picture ‘outshined all the other portraits in this hall.’ There was a fierce battle to acquire the work which in the end was won by George Hearn, the biggest New York collector of the time. Nadezhda Sapozhnikova had been one of Fechin’s first students, and the teacher-pupil relationship quickly turned into a friendship, helped by the fact that Sapozhnikova was four years his elder. When the outbreak of the First World War prevented the artist from exhibiting in Europe and America, Sapozhnikova began to commission his works, including the portrait of her niece Varia Adoratskaya (1914), the other most recognisable image of the artist’s Russian period. A COLLECTION OF WORKS BY ALEXANDRA EXTER
From left to right: Carnival in Venice, oil on canvas, 120.5 by 76cm, £180,000 – 250,000 Masked Figures by the Banks of a Venetian Canal, oil on canvas, 90.5 by 131cm, £100,000-150,000 Carnival Procession, oil on canvas, 140 by 100cm, £100,000-150,000This collection of works by Alexandra Exter comes from descendants of Ihnno Ezratty – a close friend of Exter, and legal executor of her estate. With works in oil and on paper, including examples of theatre and book design, they showcase the scope of her talent and the sheer variety of the work she was producing in Paris in the 1930s. There are 14 lots altogether, 13 of which will be on exhibition in Moscow. During the Second World War the artist hid Ezratty, a Sephardic Jew, from the occupying German forces during the mass arrest of Jews in France in 1942. This had been a difficult period for Exter too – she suffered much from ill health, isolation, and poverty and her husband died in 1945. In gratitude for all she had done for him, Ezratty begun buying her paintings and found her a studio enabling her to resume painting. On her death Exter bequeathed to him a number of artworks. The collection includes three views of Venice, one of Exter’s most celebrated subjects. Between 1912 and 1914 she had shared a studio in Paris with the Italian Futurist Ardengo Soffici, and they became lovers, visiting Italy a number of times in the early 1910s. The pair were separated by the outbreak of War, and her ties with Europe were all but severed until 1924, when she was invited to represent the Soviet Union at the 14th Biennale in Venice, the first time the country had participated since the Revolution. During this period she threw herself into working for the stage and embarked upon a fruitful partnership with the director of Moscow’s Kamerny Theatre, Alexander Tairov, whose revolutionary direction was a perfect match for her visionary designs. In the Venice paintings, bridges are used as stage platforms, or proscenium arches – a legacy of her time as Tairov’s chief designer. IVAN POKHITONOV
Sunlit Landscape in Winter, Zhabovshchizna (circa 1902-6) oil on panel, 17 by 26.5cm, £100,000-150,000Pokhitonov returned to Russia at the beginning of the 1900s and bought a small estate at Zhabovshchizna, in Minsk province, where he spent a protracted and happy period between 1902 and 1906. Inspired again by the landscape of his native Russia these were particularly fruitful years for the artist and he painted a number of views of Zhabovshchizna in every season. Despite the thick covering of snow, construction work is obviously underway on his newly acquired estate and the figures in the foreground appear to have ridden out to oversee its progress on this beautiful, crisp winter’s day. ART OF THE SOVIET UNION SALE HIGHIGHTS SERAFIMA RYANGINA
Student Excursion To The Baltic Shipyard (1930) oil on canvas, 100 by 149.5cm, £100,000 -150,000This is the first major work by Ryangina to appear at auction, and one of the few works from her early career remaining in private hands. Commissioned by the Association of Artists of the Revolution (AKhR) in 1930, it belongs to a series on the Baltic Shipyard in Leningrad. In 1932 it was exhibited at the XVIII Venice Biennale; the work responded to the propagandistic aims of the Soviet organisers who saw the Biennale as an opportunity to demonstrate the economic, industrial and moral strength of socialism. The painting is not only representative of this period of transition in the arts in the Soviet Union, from the avant-garde art towards the figurative and socialist realism, but also of Ryangina’s oeuvre in general. She is best known for her visual panegyrics to the new types of Soviet woman who emerged in the late 1920s. In the present lot, the female students and ship builder are immersed in productive activities, representing their active role in building the new society. WORKS FROM THE GEKKOSO GALLERY, JAPAN In 1969 the head of this Tokyo gallery, Yoko Nakamura, first visited the Soviet Union convinced there must be something worth exploring in Soviet art. A year later, the gallery held the first selling exhibition of Soviet Art, These continued annually for over 10 years, and were taken on tours around the country. Nakamura was also responsible for organising a huge retrospective of Russian and Soviet art in Japan of over 600 pieces from the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery, and did a lot to promote the art of the USSR as well as tourism. The sale includes five works that once featured in her exhibitions. Two highlights are are Andrei Mylnikov’s, On the Veranda, £30,000-50,000 and Tair Salakhov’s, Granada, also £30,000-50,000.
Andrei Mylnikov, On the Veranda, £30,000-50,000 Over the past ten years, over twenty international exhibitions have been held at Sotheby’s Moscow office. They have exhibited masterpieces from the Old Masters, Jewellery, Impressionist, Contemporary, Russian, and African art departments to the Moscow public. Sotheby’s Moscow also carries out extensive academic research and collaborates with museums, private museums and cultural institutions in Russia and all over the world.Sotheby’s Moscow office is located in the “Romanov Dvor” Business Centre on Romanov Pereulok, just steps away from Red Square. Since the office opened in May 2007 it has become a valuable resource for both our Russia-based and international clients.