Nicholas II Snuff Box Sells for $665,000 at Auction Topic: Auctions
Copyright Notice: The following article was originally published in the June 22nd, 2015 edition of the Arizona Daily Star. The author Danielle Arnet owns the copyright of the work presented below.
What: A jeweled, enameled, two-tone gold snuff box estimated at $120,000 to 180,000 sold for $665,000 in a Russian Works of Art sale recently at Christie’s New York.
Made by the Imperial court jeweler, the 3¼-inch-wide rectangular box has a blue enameled top with yellow gold flowers, pink gold rosettes and cabochon emeralds at the corners. The center is pink enamel with a diamond border and a diamond-set Imperial double-headed eagle.
More: Intended as a presentation piece, the box has two types of enamel work. Guilloche enamel features a translucent color applied over a patterned engine cut ground. A red enamel border at the edges is champleve, a technique where enamel is set into raised edges.
Smart collectors know: Imperial enamel and Fabergé objects were produced by workmasters who had artisans and apprentices. The workmaster involved is critical. The mark here is Carl Blank, St. Petersburg, 1899 along with K.Hahn.
Hot tip: Because the French engraving on the box says it was presented by Emperor Nicholas II to the Bulgarian minister at a conference, it can be linked to the giver, the recipient and an event. All important.
Bottom line: Work of such beauty and quality no longer exists. Add historical importance and the piece is priceless.
For more information on this item, please refer to the following article and review the 274-page auction catalogue:
On June 2nd, 2015 Sotheby's London will offer 110 Russian works of art, Fabergé and icons. This new sale includes some of the finest examples of four centuries of Russian decorative art, and set to provide an insight into Russian history and capture the market’s interest yet again. Highlights include a rosewood, porcelain and gilt-bronze writing cabinet, which is one of a small group of nearly identical writing cabinets produced on the orders of Emperor Nicholas I and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna for members of their family by Ernst & Peter Gambs with the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory, as well as a magnificent pair of silver six-light candelabra made in 1892 by Pavel Ovchinnikov and presented to Count Vladimir Alexandrovich Stenbock-Fermor by the Life-Guard Hussars.
One of the highlights of the sale is an Imperial silver-gilt and cloisonné enamel triptych icon (pictured above), presented to the Tsesarevich Nicholas Alexandrovich, later Emperor Nicholas II, in 1886. Estimate 150,000 - 225,000 USD.
The icon, (Khlebnikov, Moscow, 1886) formed as a cusped ogee arch between two stylised columns, enamelled in pan-Slavic taste with turquoise, blue, white and red trellis between scrolling leaf and flowerhead borders, the interior panels enamelled en plein with Saint Nicholas the Miracleworker flanked by Saint Alexander Nevsky and Saint Mary Magdalene, the reverse engraved with presentation inscription 'To His Imperial Highness the Tsesarevich/ Nicholas Alexandrovich/ from the Moscow Bourgeois Society/ May 1886', 88 standard height 34cm, 13 1/2 in.
Although the precise date in May 1886 is not noted in the presentation inscription, it is likely that the icon was given to the Tsesarevich on - or in celebration of - his eighteenth birthday on 18/6 May, given that the form follows that of a traditional 'birth icon' with the patron saint of the recipient depicted on the central panel and those of the parents on the wings. The Tsesarevich spent much of that month in Moscow, attending parties and functions.
The Olivier Coutau-Bégarie Auction House will host an auction on May 19-20, 2015 in Paris, France, offering yet another magnificent selection of Russian works of art with an Imperial Provenance.
Highlights of the sale features Fabergé, silverware, icons, and historical memories from the personal collections of the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia (1882-1957), which include her trousseau (see pages 46-48 in the catalogue).
Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna (17 January 1882 – 13 March 1957), was the daughter of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (nee Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin). She was the wife of Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark. The couple were married on 29 August 1902 in Tsarskoye Selo, Russia, they had three daughters: Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark (1903–1997); later Princess Olga of Yugoslavia; Princess Elizabeth of Greece and Denmark (1904–1955); later Countess of Toerring-Jettenbach; andPrincess Marina of Greece and Denmark (1906–1968); later Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.
Other items offered in the sale include paintings, books, letters, photographs, porcelain, orders and medals, beautiful Russian enamels and a magnificent bust of Emperor Nicholas II (see page 29 in the catalogue).
The second part of the sale features items from the library and archives of Count Anatole (1813-1870) and Prince Paul Pavlovitch Demidoff (1839-1885).
Christie’s announces the sale of Russian Works of Art on May 20 in New York. Offering an exceptional selection of fresh to the market Fabergé and Russian works of art from American private collections, the auction includes rare books and photographs from the Russian imperial family as well as fine icons, porcelain and early silver and niello.
Leading the sale is the Collection of the Descendants of the Grand Duke George Mikhailovich, grandson of Emperor Nicholas I, which is appearing at auction for the first time. This important collection of nearly 50 lots includes personal gifts from members of the Russian Imperial family, such as Emperor Nicholas II and the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna, as well as rare family heirlooms.
Grand Duke George Mikhailovich (1863-1919) was the third son of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich (1832-1909) and the grandson of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855). In 1900, he married Princess Marie Georgievna (1876-1940), the second daughter of George I, King of the Hellenes (1845-1913), and Queen Olga (1851-1926), née Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna of Russia. The couple had two daughters, Nina (1901-1974) and Xenia (1903-1965). The family lived at Mikhailovskoe, the St. Petersburg palace of Grand Duke Michael Nikolaevich, before settling at their Crimean estate, Kharaks, in 1907.
Grand Duchess Marie and the children left Russia for England in the summer of 1914, and when the First World War broke out, they were forced to stay in England, never to return to Russia. Grand Duke George, who fled to Finland during the Revolution, was later arrested and imprisoned in Petrograd, along with his brother Grand Duke Nicholas Mikhailovich (1859-1919) and their cousin Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich (1860-1919). In January 1919, the three grand dukes were executed by a Bolshevik firing squad at the Peter and Paul Fortress.
In 1922, Princess Nina married Prince Paul Alexandrovich Chavchavadze (1899-1971) in London. Prince Paul was descended from the Chavchavadze family of Georgia and in a direct line from the last King of Georgia, George XII (1746-1800). The couple had one son, David (1924-2014), and the young family moved to the United States. Princess Xenia Georgievna married twice, first to William Bateman Leeds (1902-1971), and then to Herman Jud (1911-1987). She lived with William Leeds on the North Shore of New York's Long Island and had one daughter, Nancy Helen Marie Leeds, who married Edward Judson Wynkoop, Jr.
An extremely rare set of 12 Russian Imperial Porcelain dinner plates bearing the royal cyphers of both Alexander III and Nicholas II will be auctioned in Toronto at Waddington's on December 9, 2014.
Commissioned for the Alexander Palace in 1883, the 'Raphael Service' was the most expensive and considered one of the greatest achievements of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.
William Kime, Senior Specialist Decorative Arts at Waddington's, says, "This 12-piece set has been referred to as 'the stuff of legends'. To my knowledge, no other set of 12 plates has ever been offered." Kime added, "What makes the plates so rare and extraordinary is that they remained together, and are in such good condition."
The story behind the exquisite dinner service is as dramatic as the Russian Imperial family itself. The design was based on the Raphael Loggia murals in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which were ordered created by Empress Catherine the Great in the 1780s, based on the Raphael frescoes of the Vatican loggia. Production was personally overseen by Czar Alexander III and took 20 years to complete. As new items for the service were completed, they were presented to the Emperor every year as Christmas gifts.
The set of 12 plates was sold in 1947 by Wartski (British antique and jewellery dealers specialising in Russian works of art, founded in 1865) and never seen again, until consigned to the Toronto auction house this year.
Contained in its original brass-bound mahogany box, in excellent condition. Pre-sale estimate is set at $120,000 – 150,000.
RARE SET OF TWELVE RUSSIAN IMPERIAL PORCELAIN DINNER PLATES, FROM THE RAPHAEL SERVICE, PERIODS OF ALEXANDER III AND NICHOLAS II, 1884-1903
with central red ground hexagonal panels painted en grisaille with classical subjects, the cavettos with gilt Greek key and cream ground borders painted with winged animals, the rims with three interjections, six grey ground panels of grotesqueries and three red ground medallions with figures, all within gilt surrounds on a foliate bordered celadon green ground, the edges and basal rims all gilt, contained in their original brass-bound mahogany case, diameter 9.5" — 24.2 cm., painted crowned ciphers and dated in red and gilt.
Christie's to Auction Portrait of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna Topic: Auctions
Portrait of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, née Princess Charlotte of Prussia, in an ermine-lined red mantle, in a park landscape.
Artist: Christina Robertson (1796-1854). Photo: Christie’s London
Christie’s in London will present a superb collection of French paintings and decorative arts in Un Moment de Perfection: An Important Private Collection of French 18th Century Furniture and Old Master Paintings on 3 December 2014.
Among the collection will be a three-quarter length Portrait of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia, (née Princess Charlotte of Prussia) by Scottish born Christina Robertson (estimate: £ 30,000 - 50,000). Empress Alexandra Feodorovna (1798-1860) was the wife of Emperor Nicholas I (1796-1855), and mother of Emperor Alexander II (1818-1881).
Little is known about Christina Robertson’s early life. She was born in Fife, Scotland, and it is believed that she trained with her uncle, George Sanders, a successful miniaturist. In 1823 she married James Robertson, also a painter, and together they relocated to London from where she sent pictures to exhibitions at the Royal Academies in London and Edinburgh regularly. During this time interest in her work increased, and among her distinguished patrons were the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, the Countess of Sheffield, Lord Powerscourt and Viscountess Barrington.
After 1830 her circle of patrons had widened to include more international names such as Rothschild, Monte Bello, Zuvadovsky and Pototski, which must have influenced her decision to travel to St Petersburg in 1839, where she remained until 1841, returning again between 1849 until her death in 1854. Her connections on arrival must have been so significant that her first sitters included members of Tzar Nicholas I’s family, and the records of the Ministry of the Imperial Court state that in 1840 the artist had her own room in the Palace of Peterhof to use as a studio. In 1841 portraits of the Empress and her three daughters were included in an exhibition at the Imperial Academy in St Petersburg, and Count Buturlin commented later in his memoirs that among the most popular paintings exhibited that year were those by the ‘English lady Mrs Robertson, who has been stealing all commissions away from her colleagues. It became extremely fashionably among the nobility of Petersburg for two of three years to be painted by this foreign artist, who charged fabulous prices for her portraits’ (Russian Archives, Moscow, 1901, Book 3, p. 451, quoted in E. Renne, ‘A British Portraitist in Imperial Russia: Christina Robertson and the court of Nicholas I’, Apollo, September 1995, p. 45).
Robertson painted a number of portraits of the Empress, each in different settings, and with her sitter wearing a variety of dress. The first known portrait must have been executed before 1846 as it was published as an engraving that year. The present portrait illustrates Robertson’s skill in carefully rendering different textures of fabric from the delicate lace framing the sitter’s face to the velvet robe trimmed with fur. The picturesque composition shows the influences that Robertson drew from books of etchings by Rigaud and Reynolds that she borrowed from the Hermitage Library. Other examples of Robertson’s portraits of the Empress can be found in the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg; the Museum of Arts, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, the Pavlovsk Palace Museum near St Petersburg; and the Alupka Palace Museum, Crimea.
She is buried in St Petersburg in the Volkhov Lutheran cemetery, and the largest collection of her work remains in the Portrait Gallery of the Romanov Dynasty of the State Hermitage Museum.
For more information on the Portrait Gallery of the Romanov Dynasty, please refer to the following link:
Sotheby's Geneva to Auction Romanov Diamond Pendant Topic: Auctions
In a press release Sotheby’s has announced the holding of its much-awaited Geneva autumn sale of Magnificent Jewels & Noble Jewels on Wednesday, November 12, 2014. The auction that will be held in three sessions will feature a total of 470 lots expected to achieve a total sale value in excess of US$62 million, a target that would be easily surpassed given the array of exceptional jewels on offer at the auctions from a renowned private collection, as well as jewels with an ancient historic provenance and also a selection of signed and period jewels and jewels featuring stunning diamonds, coloured diamonds and coloured gemstones, that will no doubt appeal to international connoisseurs and collectors of rare jewels.
One lot with a clear-cut royal provenance that will interest Romanov enthusiasts is lot 368 – The English Rose Diamond Pendant, once the property of Queen Victoria (1819-1901). The pendant designed around year 1876, in the shape of a rose, has its center set with a pear-shaped diamond, surrounded by two rows of five petals each, set with cushion-shaped single-cut and rose-cut diamonds. Queen Victoria gave the pendant as a gift to her grand-daughter Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1876-1936) on the occasion of her christening in 1876. Princess Victoria Melita married her lover and maternal first cousin Grand Duke Kirill Vladmirovich of Russia in 1905 after divorcing her first husband Grand Duke of Hesse Ernest Louis in 1901. The couple were initially banished from Russia and settled in Paris, but were allowed to return to Russia in 1910, where the princess came to be known as Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna. They had three children, two daughters and a son. The English Rose Diamond Pendant was inherited by the second daughter Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia (1909 – 1967) who married Louis Ferdinand, Prince of Prussia. A moderate pre-sale estimate of US$52,000 – $73,000 is placed on the English Rose Pendant, which no doubt would sell for a much enhanced price given the clear-cut royal historical provenance.
Auction: Rare Morozov Silver Bust of Emperor Nicholas I Topic: Auctions
Photo Courtesy: Aspire Auctions
Aspire Auctions in the United States, are offering a unique silver bust of Emperor Nicholas I (1825-1855). Portrayed in military uniform and helmet with double headed crowned Imperial Eagle and attached to a silver socle. Front plate with "Nicolas I" in Cyrillic. With maker's hallmark "Morozov" in Cyrillic with Imperial Warrant of double headed Imperial Eagle to the right, city mark for St. Petersburg, and assay mark for Aleksandr Timofeyevich Shevyakov (1895-1898) and "84, 1896" underneath. Weighs 49.92 toz.
The silver casting was made by Morozov, the chief rival to Carl Faberge, also possessed the Imperial Warrant to supply items to the Imperial Court. This is symbolized by the Imperial Eagle on the hallmark of the bust. Ivan Ekimovich Morozov founded an important firm of jewellers and court purveyors "I.E.Morozov" in 1849 which remained in existence till 1917. Friedrich August Theodor Dietrich (German, 1817-1903) was born in Bojanovo (Posen), studied under Drake, Rauch, Tieck and others in Berlin. In 1856 modeled bronze statuettes of the Russian Tzar Nicolas I and the Prussian King Frederick Wilhelm IV.
This item is estimated $2,500-$5,000. The lot will close this Thursday October 30th.
Two spectacular silver vegetable dishes from dinner services used by the 18th century Russian Empress, Catherine the Great, are to be sold at Bonhams Fine Silver and Gold Boxes sale in London on 18 June. They are estimated at £30,000-50,000 for the pair, the auction house said in a press release.
The vegetable dishes are among the survivors of the 22 silver table services ordered by Her Imperial Majesty for the new seats of regional government which she established in Russia. She wanted each centre of government to have a complete service of its own to avoid the need to transport silver from place to place during her tours of the country. Catherine ordered five services from Russian silversmiths but the others were commissioned from artisans in London, Augsburg and Paris. Four of the French-made services employed the talents of the greatest silversmith of the 18th century, Robert-Joseph Auguste. He was involved in sets for Moscow, Kazan, Nizhny-Novgorod and Ekaterinoslav, later known as Ekaterinburg where the Imperial Family was murdered in 1918.
The two vegetable dishes in the sale represent a mystery. Although they look perfectly matched, in fact the ornate covers are from the service made by Auguste for Moscow while the dishes themselves are from the Ekaterinoslav service made by one of his colleagues, Louis Lenhendrick. Exactly the same mismatch of dish and cover is found in the silver vegetable dishes from the same makers and services in the collection of the Louvre in Paris.
Catherine the Great's desire for monumental and extensive table services as an expression of her wealth and her appreciation of western taste is most spectacularly shown in the famous Orloff Service by Jacques-Nicolas Roettiers. Various tureens and plates from this service were in the collection of Jaime Ortiz-Patiño and sold in 1992; for examples of gold boxes from this collection, see lots 1, 2 and 31. From 1776, Catherine's agents ordered twenty-two further services for the Gubernatorial capitals newly created in her reorganisation of the administration of the Russian Empire. Five were from Russian silversmiths and the rest from outside the empire: Paris, London and Augsburg. In Paris, they turned to Roettiers successor Robert-Joseph Auguste, for four; Ekaterinoslav (1776-1778), Kazan (1778), Nijni-Novgorod (1778-1779) and Moscow (1782-1783). For the former, Auguste had to enlist the aid of Louis-Joseph Lenhendrick, who had collaborated on the Orloff Service.
Robert-Joseph Auguste (1723ca.-1805) was a sculptor and royal goldsmith to Louis XV and Louis XVI of France, whose coronation crown he made. Unusually for the time, Auguste appears to have worked outside the normal guild system; he was made master in 1757 but very little of his production of the next ten years still exists, five gold boxes through the 1760's. The recall of plate during the reign of Louis XVI means that little of Auguste's work made for French patrons survives, however we are fortunate that he had magnificent orders from foreign courts including Count de Creutz, a Swedish Ambassador, King George III and Catherine the Great. Auguste was an excellent exponent of the new Neoclassical style, radically different to the flamboyant and naturalistic Rococo that had passed in the middle of the century and an evolution of the Classical style; with fewer references to architectural forms. The designs of the services show a little more restraint than that for the Sachsen-Teschen Tureen by Jacob Ignatz Wurth sold in these rooms on 13 June 2013, ex lot 151.
The services were re-called to St Petersburg on Catherine's death by her successor, Tsar Paul the First. The next full published assessment of the remnants is by Baron A de Foelkersam, in 1907. Sadly his detail for the present services is not as extensive as for the Orloff service, but he does include the bill for Moscow service: 232,200 livres (including commission) for 2351 marks (18,808oz) of silver. He also provides a tally of pieces that were melted for bullion through the 19th century.
In the aftermath of the Revolution, the new Soviet Government sold some of the remnants of the services along with other treasures from the Imperial collections. Jacques Helft recounts: "It was during this same year  that I secured from the Trade Representatives of the USSR at Berlin, a large consignment of French Goldsmiths' work," which included the Orloff table service (Helft, p.29).
It is possible that the present lot came from this consignment, as is suggested by evidence from the ledgers in the archives of Helft's client, Count Moise Nissim Camondo, published by Sylvie Legrand-Rossi. In July 1929, Moïse de Camondo bought from Helft, for 250 000 francs a pair of rectangular tureens by Auguste (1782) and a pair of round tureen covers by the same maker and date and two round plates by Louis-Joseph Lenhendrick (1777). In November of the following year, Camondo exchanged the latter pair and 40 000 francs for a second pair of the rectangular tureens (Les Arts Décoratifs, musée Nissim de Camondo, inv. CAM 256 and 257). Further, Helft had, the year before, given to the Louvre a dish and cover with the identical combination (Musée des Arts Décoratifs, don Jacques et Yvon Helft, 1928, inv. 26750 and 26751). It is also possible that the present lot are two of four tureens illustrated in a photograph of a showcase of Auguste's work in the 1926 Louvre, L'exposition d'Orfèvrie Française Civile. The cloches were purchased, in Paris, by the present owner's parents.
Helft gives a clue as to why the dispersal of the Imperial silver took so long: "I had dazzling hopes of success when my clients should come to inspect all these wonders; but as it happened the reception was guarded and cool." p. 29. Indeed, in 1942, after he had been forced to move to New York, he was still offering the Orloff Dish Covers and Moscow verrières sold to Ortiz Patiño, see plate 5.
At first glance the covers and dishes sit well together, despite the difference in dates and makers, probably because Auguste and Lenhendrick cooperated on the Ekaterinoslav service. The dishes can easily be assigned to this service with their prickdot engraved "EK2," as well as their date and maker. The covers must come from the Moscow service with their continuous bands of shallow flutes around the side rather than being separated into four panels, see illustration.
The numbering of the pieces is somewhat unexpected and may have been added later by the Hermitage; it appears to be by type of dish or cover rather than to keep covers and bases together. The present lots are incuse stamped "2" on both dishes and covers. The two pairs of rectangular compotiers and covers from the Moscow Service in the Musée Nissim de Camondo each have 1 to the base and 3 to the cloche. Other platters and plates sold recently have been marked "EK1," whilst the dessert plates from Ortiz Patiño Collection were marked "No3." This eccentricity may give a hint as to how the covers and bases became mixed either whilst in the Imperial Collection or at the point of sale by the Soviets.
Stranded Dowager Empress - Cigarette Case Comes up for Sale Topic: Auctions
Photo: Tennants Auctioneers
In August 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, the Russian Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna was refused permission by the Kaiser to continue her journey to her homeland of Russia. The Empress had been in England visiting her Brother-in-Law and Sister, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, when war was declared. She rushed to travel home in the Imperial Russian train but on arrival at Berlin the Kaiser ordered that the train should not be allowed to proceed any further. The train was obliged to leave Berlin after hostile crowds broke the windows and tore down the blinds of the carriage in which Her Majesty was sitting. The train made it's way to neutral Denmark.
It was in Denmark, whilst waiting for arrangements for the Empress to return to Russia by ship, that the Empress met Mrs Walter Wall, an American from North Carolina who was similarly stranded by the outbreak of War and was staying at the Hotel d'Angleterre in Copenhagen. Also resident at the hotel at the same time was Prince Felix Yussopov who, himself, had only just escaped from the Kaisers clutches and two years later was to murder Rasputin.
The Empress and Mrs Wall struck up a friendship and when the Empress left for her homeland she made a personal gift to Mrs Wall of a small silver gilt and enamel cigarette case by the Russian court jeweller Ovchinnikov. The
Empress eventually returned to St Petersburg and in four short years was to see the revolution and the assassination of her son, Tsar Nicholas II, her daughter-in-law, her four granddaughters and the Tsars heir, her grandson Alexei.
Photo: Tennants Auctioneers
Notes: Lot 394. Russian Silver and Enamel Cigarette Case, by Ovchinnikov, St Petersburg circa 1890. Profusely decorated with foliate cloisonné enamels and arabesques, bear Imperial Standard Mark.
Estimate: £1,000 - £1,500
Tennants Auctioneers, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, Great Britain. Spring Fine Art Sale. 28th / 29th March 2014