The Danish auction house Bruun Rasmussen presents unique art and antiques from Russia at their next Live Auction on 2 June. The selection covers assorted art pieces and paintings from the Imperial era, including two contemporary and rare portraits of Grigori Jefimovich Rasputin.

Interesting provenances and cultural history go hand in hand at this auction as many of the objects come from private owners. “At Bruun Rasmussen, we are pleased to once again be able to present auction lots from Russia with special provenances. This is to a great extent due to Denmark’s historical connections to Russia and not least the Danish-born Tsaritsa Maria Feodorovna, who supported the Danes’ and other Scandinavians’ enterprises in Russia.” — Martin Hans Borg, Russian Chief Specialist at Bruun Rasmussen.

Bruun Rasmussen’s Russian Live Auction takes place on 2 June at 4 pm. View the lots HERE.

Rare portraits of Grigori Jefimovich Rasputin

At Bruun Rasmussen’s Russian sale you have the unique opportunity to acquire art pieces from one of Russian history’s most curious and enigmatic periods. Two of the painter Theodora Krarup’s contemporary and rare portraits of Grigori Jefimovich Rasputin, where he personally sat as the model, are being auctioned off by descendants of General Consul Otto Auer, who originally acquired them directly from the artist in 1927.

Lot 284: Theodora Krarup: Portrait of Grigori Rasputin as peasant. Signed Th. Krarup 1914. 53 x 40.5 cm. Estimated at € 13,500-20,000

“I first became acquainted with Theodora Krarup and her portraits of Rasputin 30 years ago. I was fulfilling my Danish military service, when I found an antique shop near the barracks. It had many books on Russian history, art and crafts which I bought and read in my spare time. Among the books were Theodora Krarup’s interesting memories.” — Martin Hans Borg, Russian Chief Specialist at Bruun Rasmussen.

Theodora Krarup – Danish painter in Russia

While most people know about the fabled Rasputin, Theodora Krarup has almost been forgotten. However, a remarkable story surrounds the Danish painter in Russia. Theodora Krarup (1862-1941) came to St. Petersburg in 1896 where she began painting portraits of the Imperial family, including a portrait of Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna and her two eldest children, for which Tsar Nicholas II awarded her the Romanov Medal in gold. With those assignments, her career was set. She had a remarkable life with acquaintances from the Imperial Russian Family and also the Russian artist Ilya Repin, who functioned as a mediator between Theodora Krarup and Russian noble, writers, artists, and scientists.

Lot 283: Theodora Krarup: Portrait of Grigori Rasputin as the holy man. Signed Th. Krarup 1915. 58 x 44,5 cm. Estimated at € 67,000-80,500

Theodora Krarup also befriended Rasputin, which she describes in her memoir “42 Years in the Realm of the Tsar and the Soviets”. She tells that she painted 12 portraits of him, and at the time of his death, she still had quite a few portraits left that became in-demand commodities. The director of the Moscow Museum bought one, while “three of the last in the collection were bought by a consul in Petersburg,” as Theodora Krarup tells. The consul in St. Petersburg was the Finnish General Consul, Otto Auer (1883-1957). Of the three portraits purchased, his descendants chose to divest themselves of one in 2003 (dated 1916, now unknown whereabouts). The other two portraits – that are now up for auction and also consigned by Otto Auer’s descendants – are dated 1914 and 1915, respectively. Otto Auer also preserved some of Theodora Krarup’s original receipts, dated Leningrad 1927, which are enclosed with the two portraits. Her other portraits of Rasputin have disappeared, making these two portraits exceptionally rare.

Grigori Jefimovich Rasputin

Rasputin (1869-1916), about whom many fantastic stories circulate, was called everything from a mystic and charlatan to a ladies’ man. He was seen as the political adviser to Tsar Nicholas II and Tsaritsa Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia as well as one of the causes of the revolution in 1917. It has been argued that he had a powerful influence on Tsar Nicholas II, helping to discredit the Tsar and his government. This led many to want him gone, and Rasputin was assassinated on 17 December 1916. Among the killers were Prince Felix Yusupov and the Tsar’s cousin, Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich. Shortly afterwards, the Russian revolution took place.

Artwork from private Scandinavian collections:

Lot 269. Piotr Gregorievich Zinoviev: A Russian Cossack leaning at a window by a panelled wall. Signed P. Zinoviev (in Cyrillic). Oil on canvas. 53 x 40 cm. Estimated at € 4,050-6,700

Lot 270. Piotr Gregorievich Zinoviev: A Russian woman with her needlework, presumably the artist’s sister, Anna Grigorievna Barskaya. Unsigned. Oil on canvas.53 x 40.5 cm. Estimated at € 2,700-3,350 

From a Danish private owner, Bruun Rasmussen also has a painting by Sergei Arsenievich Vinogradov (1869-1938). The Russian painter studied in Moscow and painted, among other places, on Crimea. He later moved to Riga, where he became acquainted with Nicolai Bogdanov-Belsky.

Lot 273. Sergei Arsenievich Vinogradov: “A path”. Summer landscape with a woman sitting by a path in the fields with colourful wild flowers. Signed Sergei Vinogradoff (in Cyrillic). Oil on canvas. 54 x 72 cm. Provenance: Danish private ownership. Estimated at € 27,000-40,500

From the Norwegian family Mathiesen, Eidsvold Iron Works and Linderud Manor, Bruun Rasmussen presents a pair of paintings by Ivan Demenievich Ligotsky (d. 1805) who was a decorative painter and known for numerous overdoors, many ceiling paintings and a few portraits. He performed decorative assignments for the Imperial Russian family at Peterhof and in the Winter Palace, but also for the nobility and the upper classes in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

Lot 274. Ivan Demenievich Ligotsky: A pair of landscapes. Signed and dated 1767. 48 x 111 cm. Estimated at € 5,400-8,050

Auction lots from the Imperial era:

At the auction you will among other things find this Russian Empire style porcelain vase acquired by civil engineer Karl Mathias Hassenkamm (1889-1972) presumably at the estate auction of Prince Valdemar of Denmark 1939, where he bought several items. This present vase is probably one of the pair mentioned in the estate catalogue: “Two vases, light blue and gilded, decorated with cupids in medallions”. Prince Valdemar of Denmark was a younger brother of Tsaritsa Maria Feodorovna of Denmark, and the vase is consigned by K. M. Hassenkamm’s grandson.

Lot 280. The Imperial Porcelain Factory: A Russian vase with Empire decorations and grisaille, signed I. H. H. 31.5 cm. Estimated at € 1,350-2,000

You will also have the opportunity to acquire impressive glassworks including this unique and rare Russian glass vase from The Imperial Glass Factory in St. Petersburg. The decoration of the vase is historically inspired by Russian Renaissance motifs from the 17th century, which were very popular in Russia in the late 19th century and early 20th century. This includes the floral decoration itself but also the old form of the mitre crowned Russian coat of arms.

Lot 287. The Imperial Glass Factory: A Russian glass vase. Marked with scratched mark for Nicholas II of Russia. H. 18 cm. Provenance: Danish diplomate family. Acquired in Russia in the 1920s. Estimated at € 5,400-8,050

Finally, Bruun Rasmussen also has two paintings by Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna (1882-1960) up for auction. She and her husband, Colonel Nicholas Kulikovsky escaped the Russian revolution and civil war arriving in Denmark in 1920. They lived with the Grand Duchess’ mother, Tsaritsa Maria Feodorovna, at Hvidøre Manor until her death in 1928. When Hvidøre was sold in 1930, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna and her husband acquired Knudsminde Farm in Ballerup, where they lived until 1948. Hereafter, they emigrated to Canada.

Lot 265. Olga Alexandrovna: Colourful spring flowers on the windowsill at Knudsminde Farm, the Danish residence of the Grand Duchess in exile. Signed Olga. Oil on cardboard. 33 x 41 cm. Provenance: Danish collection of fine art. Estimated at € 2,700-3,350

Lot 266. Olga Alexandrovna: Spring day at Knudsminde Farm, the Danish residence of the Grand Duchess in exile. Signed Olga. Oil on cardboard. 62 x 52 cm. Visible size 58 x 48 cm. Provenance: Danish private ownership. The former Danish owner received the painting directly from the Grand Duchess. Estimated at € 2,700-3,350 

Russian Online Auction

In addition to the Live Auction on 2 June, Bruun Rasmussen will also present Russian art and antiques at an Online Auction on 7 June at 5 pm CET where you can bid on a wide selection of silver, porcelain, paintings, icons, jewellery, furniture, and collector’s items.