Christie’s sale of Russian Works of Art on Monday, April 15 in New York features one of the strongest offerings of Fabergé to come to the market in recent years. Highlighting the sale is Property from a Distinguished Midwest Private Collection, which comprises over 30 lots by Fabergé, as well as Imperial porcelain table services and silver. Other highlights include an Important Silver-Mounted Porcelain Imperial Presentation Vase by Fabergé and the Imperial Porcelain Factory; an impressive section of cloisonné enamel from a Private Arizona Collection; a Collar and Badge of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called from a Private Collector; and a wide selection of late 19th/early 20th Century bronzes. With over 160 total lots and more than 60 by Fabergé, the sale is expected to realize in excess of $3.2 million.
The exceptional group of works from a Distinguished Midwest Private Collection exemplifies the refined taste of an American collector who, with regular visits to important Russian art dealers and auctions in Paris, London and New York, carefully built the collection over the course of the last quarter century. This finely curated group of Fabergé includes everything from desk clocks to photograph frames, hardstone animals to Imperial cigarette cases. Many works have been exhibited widely and benefit from remarkable Imperial provenance.
Fabergé highlights from the Distinguished Midwest Private Collection include a Jeweled Gold Box originally gifted to Princess Irene of Prussia by her sister Empress Alexandra Feodorovna, later in the collection of a German Royal Family (estimate: $40,000-60,000); an Aventurine Quartz Gum-Pot in the form of an apple originally purchased by the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna from Fabergé in 1901 (estimate: $25,000-35,000); a Gold and Bloodstone Gum-Pot formerly in the Forbes Magazine Collection (estimate: $30,000-50,000); and a vibrant blue Jeweled Enamel Imperial Presentation Cigarette Case (estimate: $50,000-70,000).
Another highlight of the Fabergé section of the sale is an Important Silver-Mounted Porcelain Imperial Presentation Vase by Fabergé and the Imperial Porcelain Factory from a New York Collector (estimate: $150,000-250,000). The vase was recorded in the ledgers of the Imperial Cabinet and was intended to be presented by Emperor Nicholas II. However, it remained in the Imperial Cabinet’s stock until the Russian Revolution in 1917. By mid-century, the vase had found its way into the collection of India Early Minshall (1885-1965), the renowned American collector of Fabergé. Minshall’s iconic collection was donated to the Cleveland Museum of Art and The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, the latter of which eventually deaccessioned the works. The present vase was among those deaccessioned works sold at Christie’s New York in 1988, where it was acquired by the present owner.
Another Fabergé highlight with extraordinary provenance is an Important Silver and Enamel Presentation Clock initially gifted to George Nikolaevich de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg (1872-1904), an officer of the Horse Guard Regiment. George Nikolaevich was a descendant of Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna (1819-1876), daughter of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855), and also, Joséphine de Beauharnais (1763-1814), the first wife Napoléon Bonaparte. The clock was gifted to him in 1905 by his fellow officers of His Majesty’s squadron, presumably upon his retirement (estimate: $80,000-120,000).
The militaria section of the sale features a rare badge and collar of the Order of St. Andrew the First-Called from a Private Collector (estimates: $80,000-120,000 and $150,000-250,000). Founded by Peter the Great, the order of St. Andrew was the highest and oldest Imperial award. The badge was made by the Russian Imperial court jeweler Julius Keibel in 1865 and the collar by the jeweler Eduard.
The sale also features an excellent selection of bronzes, including a portrait of Mary Clark Brabant, the daughter of an industrialist and senator from Montana, by Prince Paul Troubetzkoy (estimate: $50,000-70,000).
© Art Daily and Christie's. 25 March, 2013