“Siberian Sleigh Riders,” by Leon Gaspard to lead Bonhams Russian sale in London on June 6. It is estimated at £250,000-450,000.
According to the auction house, the insatiably curious and restless Gaspard (1882-1964) travelled widely in the course of his long career. He accompanied his fur-trader father on journeys through the Russian country as a boy and later in life; he made expeditions to Siberia, Mongolia, Asia, the Himalayas and Tibet, China and Morocco, eventually settling permanently in Taos, New Mexico. He painted “Siberian Sleigh Riders” in Mexico in 1921. The subject was inspired by memories of his boyhood travels in Russia, and the dramatic, but harmonious, scene contrasts the fragility of the ceremonial procession of riders, horses and sleighs with the monumental and desolate landscape.
The auction house quotes Daria Khristova, Bonhams Head of Russian Art, "Siberian Sleigh Riders is a true masterpiece. Drawing on his artistic training in Paris in the early years of the 20th century, and his many years of travels, Gaspard developed a unique and highly personal style of painting. His works have a timeless appeal that expands our understanding of human experience."
Other major highlights of the Russian sale include: “Still Life with Daisies” by Nikolai Fechin (1881-1955) estimated at £100,000-150,000). Fechin painted in Taos, New Mexico in 1930s, which was then the site of a thriving artistic community. Fechin, who suffered from tuberculosis, had moved there from New York in search of a drier climate. Drawing inspiration from the rich culture of his surroundings, he broadened his palette and experimented with more expansive brushwork. This new-found freedom of expression can be seen perfectly in “Still Life with Daisies.” Fechin was known primarily as a portrait painter, and this work is one of the artist's few still lives; Zinaida Serebriakova’s (1884-1967) “Self-portrait with Brushes” is estimated at £100,000-150,000. Serebriakova painted self-portraits throughout her life to record her moods and changing appearance, regarding them as a kind of pictorial diary. She executed “Self-portrait with Brushes” was in Paris in 1945, immediately after World War II; “The Tower,” a stage design by Nikolai Roerich (1874-1947) for Princess Maleine estimated at £120,000-180,000. Roerich painted the design for a 1913 revival of the Belgian dramatist Maurice Maeterlink's first play, Princess Maleine, at the Svobodyni Theatre in Moscow.
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