Antiqua №1(3) 2014
The third Antiqua has been issued. Its silver-coloured cover is decorated with the photo of a silver and enameled tea-caddy made by the Russian jewellery workshop P.Ovchinnikov. This item comes from the unique treasure of the Naryshkins, discovered in Saint-Petersburg in 2012. Antiqua became the first paper to thoroughly have taken pictures of a significant part of the unique collection. Read the story of the Naryshkins’ treasure on pages 22—30.
Traditionally, publications are precessed with the words of the founder of the magazine. «All of us try to protect themselves from the influence of time in any available way, to remain floating through the passing-by minutes, hours, years — and not to drown in this ruthless crater without leaving something after you and managing to complete what you are doing. That’s why antique objects seem to me solid and stable, as if they are small islands, hardly influenced by the time stream. I feel we could slow down a bit and rearrange the irreproxical pitiless time race with them. Antiques give the hope, the feeling that not all will sink into oblivion and disappear without a trace. I really want something to remain after me», — says the publisher Igor Tupalskiy. «An item, furrying with Provenance, has an its owner’s interests personality imprint. Speaking of collections which are passed from a generation to generation, are rearranged, get rid of unnecessary objects and acquire new ones, — this is a perfect material way to preserve a real bit of yourself for your children. This is the case when materiality of an object is enriche with new transcendent quality and starts to conduct not materiality but moral substance. Unfortunately, in our country we don’t have many collections which have accompanied the families for long years. However, I believe that we’re living in the epoch when such collections form for many generations ahead», — adds Mitya Kharshak, the senior editor.
This time the protagonist of the issue is Piotr Aven from Russia— a state official, businessman, collector and the person who owns the world-largest private collection of Russian art of late XIX — early ХХ century. Piotr met the senior editor of Antiqua and, being surrounded with masterpieces of Russian art, told about his unique assembly: «Sometimes it happened that I struggled for works at a price several dozens of times higher than the initial cost, outbid them from dealers. For example, Winning the battle — undoubtedly, the best work by Aristarch Lentulov, which is in private collection. I overtook a famous Russian oligarch, having bought it. He took a pause till the evening, and I bought it immediately. It’s very convenient to own a bank — you can always quickly get the money». Read the detailed interview with Piotr Aven on pages 10—21.
The story from the cover is about the Naryshkins’ treasure. At present, this is the biggest treasure ever found in Saint-Petersburg for the past two hundred years. It’s nowadays displayed in Grand Duke Konstantine’s palace (a bit over 400 items out of 2193), but even this number impresses greatly. «A lot of objects haven’t been atributed yet, so the historians keep working. The family relics were carefully packed. A small part of them was wrapped into newspapers dating from 1917: the Somov-Naryshkins made the cache just before the revolution and left for abroad. The treasure stayed untouched for about 95 years: all the services are absolutely complete, and every object from a salt-cellar and a teaspoon to water boilers and vases is still in perfect condition».
Everyone dealing in this or that way with interior design in Saint-Petersburg is familiar with Lina Perova. The founder of Saint-Petersburg Design Gallery, a collector, publisher, manager of numerous exhibitions of young Eoropean designers and recognised masters of ХХ century told Antiqua how she collected her own assembly of XX century design objects. «Speaking of classics, Eileen Gray is the closest to me— this is an unconditional discoverer, a pioneer, a unique chaacter of design history. Last year the Pompidou Center housed a fantastic exhibition of hers, and there was exactly the same Architect’s study, as I have at home. She’s my favourite character. I love a lot more others — Mies van der Rohe, my «first love» Joseph Hoffmann, and many more, but Eileen Gray is beyond comparison».
To continue about furniture, we’re moving on to the XIX century. Alexey Markov, the well-known antiquarian and expert in furniture and applied arts, presents a wonderful Cabinet with a bear: «This is a rare signature item. The facade of its doors bears the owner’s monogram. The letter V under the Russian Grand Dukes’stands for Vladimir, the third son of Emperor Alexander II, who was a connoisseur of arts and very well oriented himself among the latest artistic trends». Read the story of the cabinet and its authors — the architect A. Guhn, and the carver G.Byuchter on pages 40—45.
The date of the Third auction of Soviet art is coming, and Antiqua traditionally supports it. «There will be the works by famous painters and graphic artists, working in a variety of genres, displayed on the auction. From the ideologic point of view, there will be both socialictic realism classic and «underground» art displayed. Among the artists whose works you’ll be able to get are: Г.С. Верейский, В.Ф. Загонек, И.П. Корнилов, Н.Ф. Лапшин, В.И. Малагис, А.А. Пластов, А.Н. Самохвалов, П.Т. Фомин, А.И. Харшак и многие другие. The non-conformists are represented with: E.Mikhnov-Voitenko, I.Tabenkin, V.Shagin, M.Shemyakin and other. Among the top lots the works by «official» Leningrad artists and the group Eleven will be displayed.
Further on, our expert in weapons, a passionate hunter and collector Nicolas Lawrence tells about four outstanding hunting rifles of the second half of the XIX century: «Three «Englishmen» and one «Russian», — the guns Westley Richards, Purdey, Holland & Holland and the gun by Fiodor Matski. «British masters revealed the world the brightest examples armory design and established firm standarts of techical and artistic conservatism in gun-making».
This issue turns out to have a series of publications about metal objects. After the guns there are water boilers. The assembly of Russian water boilers owned by Alexey Lobanov is deservedly considered as the most profound and representative collection, which reflects both technical and artistic evolution of this unique Russian invention. Alexey Lobanov is the son of the famous collector, and today’s owner of the assembley has told Antiqua that not only might the collection bring joy, but also it could be a drag: «State museums, understanding its cultural significance and the trouble private collectors usually have, made several attempts to buy the collection. Back in 1979, after the first exhibition, the experts of the State Hermitage recommended the museum to purchase the colection. In 1996 those were already the heads of the State Hermitage, the Peterhof museum and the Nuseum of the History of Saint-Petersburg who wrote a letter to the mayor of the city A. Sobchak on the subject of essential buying the collection from its owner and organizing a samovar (water boiler — Rus) museum as the symbol of Russian everyday life culture. However, this was a flameful democratic period and the city didn’t find any money for the purchasing. I have received requests to donate the collection to the museums, but I’m not ready to do it yet, while the relationship between state museums and private collectors is not perfect, so it’s quite difficult to display a private collection there».
The collector of meteorites Evgeniy Zakharchuk tells about an amazing assembley of extraterrestrial objects: «Meteorites can be divided into impacts and finds. We call it a meteorite an impact when someone has seen a celestial event called a meteor, accompanying the flight, and everything that has reached the ground is called a meteorite. A find is a discovered meteorite whose fall hasn’t been recorded — either no one has seen it falling, or has, but there’s no information of this left, or the meteorite had fallen down before the humans appeared on the Earth». The most surprising for us was that the meteorites’ age exceeds how old the Earth is, which means our planet did not exist, and these smithereens had already started rushing through space!
This issue’s car topic is presented with Igor Rumiantsev’s story. Igor is an expert in vintage cars, a consultant and the expert of the Ministr of Culture on machinery. The reason why we met Igor was the exhibition Muscle Garage, which brought to Saint-Petersburg American car classics and showed them to the public. «There used to be the Leningradian club Samokhod which unified vintage cars and bike’s lovers. As a rule, there were no large collections in the soviet period. Every enthusiast used to own one vehicle, usually primarily considered as a means of transport. A collection of several cars, belonging to the same person, was an extreme rarity. The club joined together a lot of handy people, mostly of technical education, who were able to service their cars on their own. Some of the famous art and antique collectors had the rarest models».
Next, our constant author, the famous lawyer and collector Alexander Dobrovinskiy, speaks of a marvellous artefact from his collection of Palekh miniature lacquered paintings Agitation lacquers: «It’s obvios that, having painted such a version of Lenin, Bakanov wouldn’t have survived the year 1937 <…> The devil is hidden in details, and they are absolutely phenomenal here. Let’s start with Joseph Stalin, who is sailing the boat of the USSR — he’s the man at the wheel. The portrait likeness between the oarsmen and the contemporaries of Stalin is evident: one of them resembles of Zinoviev. But! All the faces are absolutely iconographic. Everything depicted here is pure iconography, according to the views of 1934. Pay attention to the waves the boat is passing — these are tremendous hydras! The boat USSR is heading for industrialization. Here we can also see the Shukhov’s tower, the symbol of the country’s electrification».
After the miniaure lacquered Lenin, here comes a sugar image of the leader. The sweet Lenin from the publisher Michail Sapego’s collection is a rare artifact of of the epoch: «In 2009 I was organizing the exhibition called Word of honor and red star, I mustn’t betray Lenin and Stalin’s trust! After the exhibition one lady contacted me and donated a wonderful item — the bust of Lenin made of sugar. It was produced in 1960, for Lenin’s 90th anniversary, at the sugar factory in Odessa. Altogether, only three copies were made — one of the was storeyed at the factory administration, the second one in the city committee of the socialist party, and the third one was sent to Moscow as a report. They all were manufactured very skillfully and elaborately».
The subject of the socialist past of Russia is continued in the story of the designer and artist Andrey Lyubinskiy about his collection of soviet-time toys: «Major parts of my collection are: means of transport, weapons, soldiers, plastic figures of animals, rubber toys (by the way, it’s quite difficult to keep them in good condition, they go bad fast), board games. I also have mechanical toys, which cost a bit more. The earliest items of my collection date from the 1950s, and I’m interested in cheap, well-preserved toys of the 1970s — this is the biggest part of my assembly. I used to design children’s toys quite successfully. Actually, I still design and develop them, but not for children any more. However, some people write me that their kids have been brought up with my toys. If there appear any offers on children’s toy projects, I never refuse. This is an interesting and gratifying labor».
Cognac, armagnac, whickey and port — the world-largest collection of strong alcohol, estimated at 10 million British pounds, belongs to Bay van der Bunt. Bay told Antiqua of the foundation of the assembly and its present days: «The most valuable item here is an absolutely special six-liter bottle of cognac, dating from 1795 годом. This ia a very famous big bottle. It’s special. It’s the only one in the world. It was supposed to supply Napoleon’s army in military trips, hense the big volume— the soldiers needed fairly good portions!»
Alexey Alexeev, a photographer, works in historical techniques as ambrotype, moist colloidon process and tintype. That’s why his hobby is not accidental — Alexey collects stereoscopic photos of the late XIX — early ХХ century. «Once I’d bought a stereoscope, I came home (that time I had only ten pics) — and lost the feeling of reality for an hour. This is a unique chance to go back to the past and see not costumed contemporaries but real history. You may peer into the views of Saint-Petersburg and Moscow comparing them with what they are now, spotting difference (and there’s a lot!), time to time drawing a parallel with the modern world: for example, nowadays nobody likes advertising banners, but at the beginning of the XX century there used to be a lot more — signboards were standing, hanging, and not only at the level of the first floor — they would climb up to the very roofs.
Many photos read the description of what they show — it’s interesting to read about foreigners’ view of Russia. For example, in one of the photos you can see a peasant’s house and the peasant himself, sitting on a log, and an elderly countrywoman with a yoke. The inscription reads this is a holiday house in Russia».
Saint-Petersburg artist and collector Michail Karasik tells about the album Socialism Industry — the apotheosis of Stalin’s propaganda in the 1930s: «Lisitskiy very actively introduces photomontage technique into the Socialism Industry, elevating it up to an epic photofresco. The first book called The new face of the USSR starts with a popular at the time montage by a Leningradian Michail Razulevich with Stalin’s slogan «The reality of our program is live people, we and you…». At the end of the book we can find a photomontage with naval canons, amphibias, tanks, storming a breastwork, an armada of planes in the night sky against the background of an industrial landscape — a fantastic panno, possibly intended to intimidate the West. The fourth book ends with a scene connected with a FED (Soviet leica), — an incredibly tall amateur photographer in front of blast-furnaces. I should notice, that the monumental language of photofrescoes had already become irrelevant by the mid-30s. These Socialism Industry photomontages sound like a powerful closing chord».
In this issue the editorial board finishes the story of the experimental restoration of the watch Longines dating from 1915. The works are over. Ruslan Nikiforov, the head of the Clock Restoration Center, says: «I guess, one of the most notable mechanisms we have ever received is the watch and chronograph Longines. In 1933 году the US pilot Charles Lindbergh and his wife set out for a journey of 47 thousand kilometres long around the Atlantic. Becoming the first man to have flown over the Atlantic non-stop by his plane Spirit of Saint-Louis, Lindberg set up a goal to explore possible north airways. The equipment he took for that expedition among all included this chronograph and watch, designed by Longines especially for this purpose».
Finally, the daily column «Flea Market», where we tell about one of second-hand markets of the world. Our friends from Budapest — Anna Chaykovskaya and Maxim Gurbatov have prepared for Antiqua a story and a photo-report about their walks along Falk Miksa street— the street of antiquarians in Budapest: «Looking over these perfectly preserved objects, it’s high time we recalled that Hungary lost in two world wars during the ХХ century, survived several revolutions and was a socialist country for forty years. How come all these vases and spoons survived is one of the main Budapest mysteries. The fact is that the layer of material culture primarily of the XIX and ХХ centuries here is large and weighty».