unable to perform in the premiere, she featured in
the first recording of Britten's great work.
The Rostropovich-Vishnevskaya Collection comprises more than 350 lots of fine and decorative Russian
works of art from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The diversity of works in the sale range from paintings,
porcelain figures, plates and vases, through to ivory caskets, glass and portrait miniatures which vary in
estimate from £150-200 up to £800,000-1,200,000. By focusing their collecting on pre-revolutionary Russian
Art, master musicians Mstislav Rostropovich and Galina Vishnevskaya – who put their collection together
over a period of 30 years – were able to recreate Imperial Russia in their residences.
One of the major highlights of the collection,
illustrated right, is a tempera and oil on canvas
painting by Nikolai Konstantinovich Roerich
(1874-1947), entitled The Treasure of the Angels. The
work, which was completed by the artist in 1905, is
a monumental painting in Byzantine icon style
reconceived in Post-Impressionist terms and
depicts the Holy city located in Northern Russian
hills. The painting, which was purchased by the
couple in 1998 at Sotheby’s for £287,500, is
estimated at £800,000-1,200,000.
Among the Imperial portraits in the sale one of the most noteworthy is a handsome equestrian portrait of
Grand Duke Petr Fedorovich (1728-1762), later Tsar Petr III, by Georg Cristoph Grooth (1716-1749), one of
the finest European masters working at the Imperial Court during the first half of the 18th century. Petr
Fedorovich's rule was weak and unstable, lasting a mere six months in 1762 before he was ousted from power
by a coup led by Count Orlov, the lover of his wife, Catherine the Great. Another version of Grand Duke Petr
Fedorovich on Horseback is
known to exist and hangs in
the State Russian Museum, St.
Petersburg. The oil on canvas
is estimated at £40,000-60,000
(illustrated on page six).
Further important works
highlighting the paintings in
the collection include the oil
on board Boyar’s Serfs by Sergei
Vasilievich Ivanov (1864-1910), which is estimated at £40,000-60,000 (illustrated on page six) and Ivan
Yakovlevich Bilibin’s (1876-1942) oil on canvas The Hunt, which is estimated at £120,000-180,000.
Representing one of many works in the sale that relate to the theatre is a watercolour and gouache over pencil
on paper set design for Apollo and Daphne (illustrated above) by Alexander Nikolaevich Benois (1870-1960),
which is estimated at £15,000-20,000.
The collection showcases porcelain produced by the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory shortly after it was
founded in 1744, through to 1920s when it was renamed the State Porcelain Manufactory, as well as by the
vast array of private manufactories operating in Russia in the late 18th and 19th centuries, including Gardner,
Popov, Novaya, Kornilov, Kuznetsov, Gzhel and Yusupov.
Among the highlights are two porcelain soup plates (an example illustrated below) from the Order of Saint
George Service, Gardner Manufactory, late 18th-century. The Francis Gardner Porcelain Manufactory was set
up by an Englishman, of the same name, who had been successful in banking in Moscow. The