Alexander Yakovlev stars in Sotheby's $10.2m Russian art resurgence

Wealthy Russians have been returning to London for a number of art sales that experts hope signal a period of growth for the Russian art markets.

First off the starting block is auction house MacDougall's, whose previous Russian art event in June of this year netted more than £10m ($16,095,200).

Describing itself as "leaders in Russian Art", MacDougall's London sale kicks off tomorrow and promises a superb selection of significant works by important Russian artists from the 19th-20th centuries.

Artists going under the hammer will include Natalia Goncharova, Robert Falk, Petr Konchalovsky, Nicholas Roerich, Ilya Repin, Ivan Shishkin and Ivan Aivazovsky.

This Ivan Shishkin piece (£900,000-1,200,000) will be auctioned at MacDougall's

While the auction houses didn't expect Russian art sales to match the high prices being paid by Chinese buyers in recent times, total sales still reached the millions.

Like at Sotheby's, whose two-part Russian paintings sale in London today (November 30) brought £4,290,650 and £2,220,400, totalling £6,511,050 ($10,146,800).

Leading the sale was a 1926 painting by Alexander Yakovlev, the official artist for the 1924-1925 expedition of Georges-Marie Haardt's team of explorers which covered 20,000km of African desert.

In contrast to other Africanist artists who did not travel beyond the North of the continent, Alexander Yakovlev shed light on the almost virgin lands of sub-Saharan Africa. There, he captured the intensity of its ancient rites and primitive beauty better than anybody else.

The Kuli-Kuta Dance, an 1926 painting by Alexander Yakovlev

His piece entitled The Kuli-Kuta Dance, Niamey, inspired by a colourful and raucous crowd encountered by the explorers in the Niger's largest city, sold for £937,250 (with buyer's premium) from "an important US private collection."

Another highlight was Alexei Petrovich Bogoliubov's 1867 painting, The Eve of the Celebration, Santa Maria Della Salute, Venice.

The oil on canvas, signed in Latin, comfortably exceeded its £600,000 high pre-sale estimate to bring a final price of £881,250 (with buyer's premium).

Alexei Petrovich Bogoliubov's 1867 painting, The Eve of the Celebration (detail)

These historic works by well-travelled Russians were only two of the many works sold for hundreds or tens of thousands in Sotheby's London sale.

MacDougall's will undoubtedly be hoping that its auction follows suit tomorrow - while collectors and investors hope that the above sales successes point towards a continuing prosperous future for the Russian art markets.


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