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June 3, 2011 5:14 pm

Sale of the week: Repin stars at Russia show

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Sale: Russian art

Location: Christie’s, 8 King Street, London SW1, tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060

Date: Monday, June 6. On view Saturday and Sunday, noon-5pm. Catalogue online at www.christies.com

Need to know: Christie’s and Sotheby’s have been holding sales of Russian art since the mid-1970s, when the market was dominated by European buyers. The genre enjoyed its first boom during the height of perestroika during the late 1980s, but it wasn’t until around a decade ago that Russian new money entered the arena and prices really began to soar. In 2006, Christie’s worldwide sales in the category grossed $70m, and the following year the house set a new world record for any Russian work of art when Konstantin Somov’s “The Rainbow” fetched a six-times estimate figure of £3.7m. Although the number of super-rich Russian buyers has since fallen, Christie’s still holds two dedicated Russian art sales per year and expects this one to realise up to £10m.

Highlights: The star of this sale is Ilya Repin’s large-scale oil painting “A Parisian Café” (1875), acquired in 1916 by the consignor’s grandfather, a personal friend of the artist. With an estimate of £3m-£5m it is almost certain to set a record for Repin and is made more remarkable by the fact the sketchbook in which he made preparatory drawings for the work will be offered as a separate lot (£150,000-£250,000).

Also notable is Boris Grigoriev’s “The Monk”, painted in France in 1922, which has been out of the public eye since its original sale a year later. It could fetch £300,000-£500,000, while a delightful collection of Alexandre Benois’ costume and set designs for the ballet Sleeping Beauty are offered at estimates ranging from £2,000-£12,000.

Leading the Russian works of art section (from 2pm) are a six-ft imperial Russian vase (£400,000-£600,000) and a gold and enamel Fabergé imperial presentation snuff box given to the liberal politician Lord Carrington. It is estimated at £300,000-£500,000, while more than 40 other Fabergé pieces include a barometer, clocks, cufflinks and cigarette cases.

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