In December, the Danish auction house Bruun Rasmussen auctioned off art and antiques containing the stories of the close relations between Russian and Danish culture. In particular, Grand Duchess of Russia and artist Olga Alexandrovna surprised with many impressive hammer prices.
The striking hammer prices were queuing up as the artwork made by Grand Duchess of Russia Olga Alexandrovna was auctioned off in early December at the Danish auction house Bruun Rasmussen. The fine results for the Grand Duchess were accompanied by a great interest in the art of Viktor Alexeievich Bobrov and Johannes Zehngraf as well as decorative art by the masters of Fabergé.
“Right now, we are experiencing an art market with a growing interest in female artists. This is also true in Russia, where Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna is experiencing a lot of interest in her artwork. In 2021 and going back several years, we have each year presented four Russian auctions with high quality art objects, and this has resulted in very fine hammer prices. We are therefore looking forward to presenting an extra Russian auction next year, so that there will be a total of five auctions and plenty to look forward to,” says Martin Hans Borg, Chief Specialist in Russian Artwork and Decorative Art at Bruun Rasmussen.
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna’s Scenes of Russian Folk Life
At the Russian Online Auction, the hammer prices skyrocketed on no less than four works by Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna. These included “Village view with a white farm”, which was estimated at a price of GBP 1,700-2,300 and sold for GBP 6,500 (including buyer’s premium), while “Landscape with water lilies and rushes at the lakeside” achieved a hammer price of GBP 5,100 (including buyer’s premium) against an estimate of GBP 1,400-1,700.
At the Russian Live Auction in Copenhagen, the work entitled “Winter street life in Russia at a five-domed church in the evening sun” was sold for GBP 6,500 (including buyer’s premium). Despite the Grand Duchess’ imperial background, she preferred to lead a simple life and dedicated a good deal of her time to painting. The works here are fine examples of how her choice of motifs reflects her lifestyle.
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna of Russia was the youngest child of Tsar Alexander III of Russia and Tsaritsa Maria Feodorovna, who was the daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark. After the Russian revolution, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna moved to Denmark and later Canada, where she lived until her death. She was married twice, first to Grand Duke Peter of Oldenburg and later to Colonel Nikolai Kulikovsky.
Popular Russian Portraits
At the auction in Copenhagen, Viktor Alexeievich Bobrov’s painting “A Russian bride” also surprised with a hammer price of GBP 12,600 (including buyer’s premium) against an estimate of GBP 1,700-2,300. In the painting, the bride wears a Russian kokoshnik, which is a traditional Russian headdress that comes in various designs for women. A career as an artist was not exactly in the cards for Bobrov, who grew up in a merchant family and, against his father’s wishes, applied to the Imperial Academy of Arts. He first excelled in genre scenes and later became a renowned portrait painter.
Miniature portraits were also represented at the auction. The Danish-born miniature painter Johannes Zehngraf attracted many of Europe’s royal and imperial families as clients and became the head miniature portrait painter for Fabergé in St. Petersburg. His portraits are known for having an often careful choice of colour and a photographic realism. The miniature portrait of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaevich of Russia, sold for GBP 6,200 (including buyer’s premium), is a perfect example of Zehngraf’s style.
Beautiful Caskets by the Masters of Fabergé
Antiques from Fabergé’s iconic masters also achieved excellent prices. The workmaster Feodor Rückert, who worked for Fabergé from 1887, is, among other things, a pioneer of the Neo-Russian style and known as the “Master of Enamel” due to his special technique with cloisonné enamel.
Two caskets with the masterful enamel were up for auction. One was sold for GBP 6,000 (including buyer’s premium) and made of silver-gilt, decorated with stylized flowers and geometric patterns. The other is a silver-gilt casket with a large faceted citrine and 18 tourmalines and beryls, which received a hammer price of GBP 10,400 (including buyer’s premium).
Five Russian Auctions in 2022
Next year, Bruun Rasmussen will take things up a notch and host five auctions with Russian artwork and decorative art, three Online Auctions and two Live Auctions in Copenhagen. This increase is due to the auction house experiencing a great demand from quality-conscious customers for artwork and decorative art with interesting stories about the history of Russian culture.
At the auctions, we will again focus on the special stories that the art objects carry with them, which not only tell Russia’s own history, but also the history that Russia and Denmark share through the close royal and imperial connections.