Still Life Success
New World Record for Kuznetsov Work at The Russian Sale

Still life with Apples and an Orange Tree by Nikolai Efimovich Kuznetsov (Russian, 1876-1970) achieved a new world record for a work by the artist at Bonhams Russian Sale at New Bond Street on Wednesday 9 June. The work sold for £212,750 against an estimate of £150,000-200,000.

Director of Bonhams Russian Department, Daria Khristova, commented: "In the 1910s, the genre of still life became a laboratory for artists to experiment in, especially for the Jack of Diamonds group, which brought a riot of colours to Russian paintings. During his membership of the group, Kuznetsov created a series of paintings, mostly still life works drawing on the experience he gained from Matisse, with whom he studied in Paris in 1907. Still life with Apples and an Orange tree, is an excellent example of Kuznetsov's innovative approach to still life painting and we are delighted to have set a new world record for the artist."

The top lot of the sale was Morning still life by David Burliuk (Russian/American, 1882-1967), which achieved £250,250 against an estimate of £180,000 - 220,000.

A rare and important survivor of Burliuk's avant-garde works, Morning still life was painted in the Soviet Union before he emigrated to the USA in the early 1920s. In contrast to the artist's impressionistic paintings – which were in demand by private collectors even in Soviet times – his avant-garde works were not taken seriously and many were destroyed. After Burliuk settled in America, he attempted to recover some of his "Moscow" artworks, hoping to include examples of his early works that would visually reinforce his proud title of "Father of Russian futurism" for an exhibition he was planning in New York with Igor Grabar. However, he was unsuccessful, and since the 1960s Morning still life had been in the collection of the director of the Russian Museum, Vasily Pushkarev, who actively sought and collected works of "leftist" artists. The work is the earliest known example of Burliuk's later favourite still life construction, in which, along with household items, his own works are used.

10 June 2021

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