Russian imperial vases valued at $4m with Sotheby's

A pair of Russian imperial vases that Sotheby's describes as the "most magnificent to come to auction" are set to headline its Russian Works of Art, Faberge and Icons sale.

The vases are some of the finest produced during the reign of Nicholas I, which is renowned for being the peak of porcelain manufacture in Russia

It is one of four Russian-themed Sotheby's auctions to be held on November 25-26 in London.

The vases were produced during the reign of Nicholas I (1825-1855), which is considered the most important period for porcelain production in Russia. Created at the imperial porcelain manufactory, they are expected to sell for £2m-2.5m ($3.2m-4m).

"The size and decoration of these vases make a bold statement, just as they did 180 years ago. We've called them 'magnificent' but that doesn't really do them justice. They are impressive on a truly Imperial scale," commented Sotheby's head of Russian works of art, Darin Bloomquist.

The first of the vases is painted with a scene after The Concert by Anthonie Palamedes, which has been imitated by Semyon Golov, a master porcelain artist. The original painting that inspired the second vase's decoration is unknown, though it has been reproduced by another master, Vasili Meshceriakov. Each stands 138cm tall.

  Semiradsky's piece is one of three originally exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in 1878

The auction will follow Sotheby's Important Russian Art sale on November 25, which is headlined by Henri Semiradsky's Un naufrage mendicant (1878), one of the most significant works from the artist remaining in private hands. It is valued at £1m-1.3m ($1.6m-2m).

Semiradsky is described by Sotheby's as "a truly pan-European artist", who achieved success in Paris after entering three paintings to the Exposition Universelle in 1878. Un naufrage mendicant was among them.

London has become a hub for sales of Russian works of art due to the restrictions and taxes placed on art in Russia. However, Sotheby's recently held its most valuable ever exhibition in Moscow, and the city looks set to join the roster of major art buying capitals visited by the top auction houses.

The present sale comes amid the bi-annual Russian art week in London, with Christie's, Bonhams and Macdougalls among others all holding auctions. Christie's Important Russian Art sale will be topped by Lentulov's Church in Alupka, valued at £2.2m ($3.5m).

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