Christie’s short, lacklustre Picture Session kicked off at 10.30am on November 29. Fewer than half of the 62 lots sold, yielding £3.21m.
Funnily enough, as with the Woolfe Collection, Lot Number 21 was again the top-seller: a large, empty, very late Ayvazovsky night scene, Genoese Towers in the Black Sea (1895), that brought a mid-estimate £862,500 despite its dreadful condition. Amazing that it sold at all, this beauty failed to draw any bids only a few months ago. Then came yet another Korovin impressionist female portrait In The Garden (c.1923) at £742,500 (Lot 25, est. £500,000-700,000).
A Harlamoff Young Model (Lot 22) hit a top-estimate £125,000 but a gaggle of clumsily daubed Maliavin females were deservedly unsold (Lot 9, est. €120,000-150,000), as was a nice Benois watercolour Before the Hunt at Gatchina (Lot 19 est. €80,000-120,000). The estimate was a bit rich, I guess.
Then came a whole bunch of small, mediocre works, among them a nondescript Wicker-Chair (c.1906) ascribed to Larionov that just made it past the reserve to £93,750 (Lot 29). Volkov’s Fauve Mountains and Foothills (c.1915) deservedly cleared their £30,000-50,000 estimate with £81,250 (Lot 36), while five small mundane Roerichs all sold above estimate, led by his 1927 Tibetan Lama at a triple-estimate £231,250 (Lot 40).
Just two of twelve lots by the obscure Simkha Simkhovich found takers – haltingly led by his 1926 charcoal, chalk and pencil Portrait of Gloria Swanson (Lot 55), a famous American actress, offloaded for £12,500, embarrassingly short of low-estimate.