An unusual yet beautiful Faberge study of a cornflower with oats has sold as the top lot in Sotheby's Russian Works of Art, Faberge and Icons auction, as Russian art week continues.
The magnificent piece sold for £430,250 ($692,559) in London yesterday (November 27), making a 73.3% increase on its £180,000-250,000 estimate. It was consigned from the collection of Donna Simonetta Colonna, Duchessa di Cesaro, a noted Italian fashion designer.
It was one of several items from the duchessa's esteemed collection offered in the sale, with her interest in Russian culture stemming from her grandmother's Russian nationality. In 2003, Sotheby's also sold a nephrite model of a sleigh by the Faberge workmaster M Perchin from her collection. It sold for an impressive £218,400 ($348,837) to bring a 173% increase on its £80,000 high estimate.
Crafted from silver gilt and enamelled in royal blue, each of the cornflowers is decorated with a collet-set diamond at its stigma. The diamond is in turn encircled by stamens, each of which terminate in rose-cut diamonds. The piece rests in a carved rock crystal pot and was sold unmarked, aside from its scratched inventory number.
The piece can be compared to just three known examples from Faberge, in particular one that is currently housed in the Royal Collection after being purchased by Queen Elizabeth in 1944. The queen herself described the work as "a charming object, and so beautifully unwarlike."
A similar example of the cornflower study sold for $662,500 at Sotheby's New York in 2011. It was given a modest $75,000 high estimate prior to the sale, resulting in a 783.3% increase on the expected price.
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