$11.4 Million of Russian Art up for Auction in Sweden

Portrait of Isaac Ilich Levitan
“Portrait of Isaac Ilich Levitan” – Vasily Polenov 1891

Today the Swedish auction house Auktionsverk began its second auction of Russian Art this year. The 493 paintings, drawings, sculptures, icons, and decorative works are expected to fetch more than $9.2 million. The auction includes work by several important realist painters of the 19th century including Isaac Levitan, Leonid Pasternak, Ivan Shishkin, Ilya Repin,Vladimir Makovsky,Valentin Serov and Vasily Polenov. Polenev’s portrait of his student and friend Issac Levitan is considered by Auktionsverk to be the highlight of the collection. The painting has been ‘missing’ for nearly a century, and was discovered in a private collection in Europe. It is expected to sell for up to $530,000, making it one of the auction’s top lots, second only to Ivan Aivazovsky’s, “Classical Poets by the Water’s Edge in Ancient Greece,” which has an upper estimate of $622,000.

Browsing the auction’s catalog on-line, one of the exciting smaller works I found was a study for Ilya Repin’s famous Barge Haulers on the Volga. There is also some interesting soviet-era work by Konstantin Gorbatov.

On the Island of Capri
“On the Island of Capri” – Konstantin Gorbatov 1926

Beyond the quality of the work itself, the auction is significant in that it helps establish Auktionsverk as a force in the Russian Art market. Auktionsverk will be competing with the world’s two largest auction houses – Christie’s and Sotheby’s – but they remain optimistic about their future in the market. The head of the Russian art division at Auktionsverk told Bloomberg news that, “for geographical, cultural and historical reasons, Scandinavia has always been a rich source of Russian art. As a smaller operation we offer both buyers and sellers a more personal service.”

The auction will end tomorrow.


Author: Barry O'Keefe

Artist/printmaker from Richmond, Va

2 thoughts on “$11.4 Million of Russian Art up for Auction in Sweden”

  1. I have a Painting dated 1921 signed C. Gorbatoff. I have info that it is the same as Konstantin Gorbatov , if so would you be able to give me more info on such paintiing, which I’ve had for many years. I aminterested in it’s authenticity and I also thought you may be interested as well.

  2. Contrary to what the author has written here about the portrait of Isaac Levitan by Polenov, this picture was not ‘missing’ for nearly a century as stated. For well over sixty years, it was in my family’s possession, first in the house of my paternal grandmother, and following her death in 1959, it used to hang, together with another wonderful oil (by Lagorio) in my bedroom in my parents’ house in London. My mother divorced my father in 1971 for mental and physical cruelty, and he removed the majority of the wonderful Russian picture collection. Following his second marriage to a woman of a completely different and lower intellectual, cultural and social class, this same woman sold many of the paintings after my father died, knowing the price of everything and the aesthetic and cultural value of nothing. The collection also contained works by Maliavine, Shishkin, Repin, Levitan, Vinogradoff, Bakst, Benois, Dobuzhinsky, Aivazovsky, Levitzki, Makovsky etc and as such was a rare collection of major Russian painters much loved and appreciated within the family. I have taken grave exception to the word ‘lost’ as I have to my father’s second wife selling off what was our cultural heritage. That is the problem of ‘second’ wives’ especially from a different and lower educational and social class.

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