WASHINGTON, June 5 (RIA Novosti) – A collection of rare Russian literary works, including a first edition by poet Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin and a copy of Anton Chekhov’s 1894 “Povesti i razskazy” (Stories and Tales) will go under the hammer at Bonhams auction house in New York this month along with other collectibles including postcards, theater programs and magazines, Bonhams said Wednesday.
The top lot of the 300 lots that will go up for auction on June 26 is a signed copy of the first authorized edition of the complete works of Derzhavin, considered one of pre-revolutionary Russia’s greatest poets, Bonhams said in a release.
The book of poems, which was published in St. Petersburg between 1808 and 1816, is expected to fetch between $60,000 and $80,000.
Chekhov’s collection of 11 short stories, “Povesti i razskazy”, is expected to sell for $25,000-$35,000. The copy that will go up for sale was inscribed by Chekhov to Semen Ilich Bychkov, a waiter at the Grand Hotel in Moscow with whom Chekhov formed a warm and lasting friendship, even agreeing to be godfather to the waiter’s daughter.
Also on offer will be the collection of American scholar and expert on Russian avant-garde theater, Alma Law, including 256 issues, sold as a single lot, of the post-revolution theatrical magazine, Rabochi i Teatr (Workmen and Theater), and a complete set of the most important publications of Vsevolod Meyerhold, the theater actor, director and designer who in the 1930s refused to toe the line and conform to Stalin’s vision of socialist-realist theater, preferring the avant-garde, experimental productions that he had come to be known for.
Meyerhold was arrested in 1939, and the next year was tried as a spy and executed.
Also available are a set of signed postcards of Yuri Gagarin, a complete set of 12 color lithograph postcards showing costume designs by Leon Bakst for the Ballets Russes’ “Feya Kukol” (La Fee des Poupees), a signed 1933 photograph of renowned Russian opera singer Fyodor Chaliapin, a collection of Russian movie posters, many of them for cowboy films, and scores of other collectibles.
The New York auction, which will take place on June 26 with previews available from June 21-25, comes as Russian art shows a stunning return to form, with the Madonna Laboris painting by Nikolai Roerich selling to a telephone bidder at a Bonhams auction in London on Wednesday for a record-breaking £7.9 million.