ALAMEDA, Calif. – Michaan’s June 9 auction of Fine Art, Furniture and Decorative Arts was led by important Russian paintings from a private collection in Carmel, Calif. Highlights included Wooded Clearing that sold for $72,000 and Na Beregu Ruchya (By a Creek) that brought $22,800, both by Ivan Ivanovitch Shishkin (1832-1898). Absentee and Internet bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
Like other artists featured in this auction, Shishkin broke from the Academic painting tradition that had dominated Russian painting for centuries, rejecting classical and religious themes and turning instead to natural landscapes and portraits.
Also sold in the June sale was High Water of River Pisava by Petr Petrovich Vereshchagin, which realized $42,000. Vereshchagin is known for plein air painting in the countryside, and for cityscapes from across the Russian empire that document its historical splendor and first steps toward industrialization.
An impressionistic view of a St. Petersburg landmark, The Anichkov Bridge (Lot 3157) by Nicolai Semenovich Samokich (1860-1944) brought $7,200. Market Boat on the Volga (below) by Aleksei Stepanovich Stepanov was estimated at $6,000-$9,000 and sold for $14,400.
There were a number of fine Russian portraits in the sale such as the lot of two (Lot 3168, $7,800), both of a Mr. Sazanov by Ilja Efimovich Repin (1844-1930). Repin’s stature as an artist in 19th century Russia has been compared to that of the novelist Leo Tolstoy. A native of Ukraine, he was not only a leading painter of his day but also was later admired by the Soviets as a model progressive and realist. His 1881 Portrait of a Man (Lot 3166), estimated at $5,000-$8,000, realized $12,000.
Another highlight was the $33,000 sale of an oil on board (Lot 3167) by Valentin Alexandrovich Serov. The contemplative turn-of- the-century portrait of a government minister was estimated at $5,000-$8,000.
The Samovar (below), a figural study by Vladimir Egorovich Makovsky displaying great warmth and striking realism, achieved $48,000.
In addition to the exciting sale of paintings from Tsarist Russia, the June 9 auction saw excellent results for diverse 20th-century works by European and American artists. These included a Maynard Dixon landscape (Lot 3193, $22,800), an Andy Warhol portrait of Elizabeth Taylor (Lot 3202, $36,000) and Picasso’s lithograph of his lovely muse Francoise Gilot, mother of Paloma and Claude Picasso (below; $54,000).
Bead Bird, a delightful sculpture by acclaimed Finnish ceramicist Birger Kaipiainen, brought $21,600.
A Reed & Barton Francis I sterling silver six-piece coffee and tea set sold for $10,800.