With 244 lots going under the gavel, the collection will include an exquisite collection of Russian 19th century paintings. Astonishingly varied in style, they are unified by their beauty and portrayal of the simplicity of the world, as seen by the eyes of the Russian masters. McDougall's are particularly proud to present three works by the illustrious Isaak Levitan. These works come from a large private Israeli collection and were purchased by the father of the current owner. She decided to part with them on her 95th birthday, and it was not an easy decision for her to make as the family album, started in the 1950s, abounds with photos of her and her children in front of these paintings. It is no exaggeration to say that the paintings have become an integral part of their lives.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 16.56.04 Isaak Levitan, High Water, signed, oil on canvas, 44.5 by 74 cm
Estimate: £250,000–300,000

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 16.55.58 Isaak Levitan, Forest Meadow, signed and dated 1890, oil on canvas, 36 by 49.5 cm
Estimate: £120,000–180,000

In the impeccable painting High Water (£250,000–300,000), Levitan addresses his beloved topic of "high water". He achieves yet again his unique merging of air naturalness and direct representation of the unassuming central Russian landscape with a poetic intensity and humanity of both the subject and the artistic fabric of the painting. Forest Meadow (£120,000–180,000) reveals another aspect of Levitan's talent: his ability to "feel" the space and see nature itself as part of the composition.

Vasily Kotarbinsky, Roman Orgy, signed, inscribed "Roma" and indistinctly dated 189?, oil on canvas, 166 by 221 cm Vasily Kotarbinsky, Roman Orgy, signed, inscribed "Roma" and indistinctly dated 189?, oil on canvas, 166 by 221 cm

In contrast to the chamber feel of Levitan's works is the grand painting Roman Orgy by Vasily Kotarbinsky (£550,000–900,000), a version of his best-known historical composition that in 1899 was included in the first collection of the State Russian Museum. A perfect example of Kotarbinsky's oeuvre, it exhibits all his signature features: captivating diversity and interplay of textures, a variety of poses, masterly depiction of objects, theatricality, great artistic expressiveness and technical perfection in conveying the effects of light. Kotarbinsky, one of Nicholas II's favourite artists, was in exceptionally high demand among the high society of pre-Revolutionary Russia.

Fedor Matveev's extremely rare painting, View of the Roman Campagna 
(£600,000–900,000), is also worthy of special mention. Painted in 1796, it opened a new stage in the history of Russian art, when a Russian artist was accepted as one of the leading European masters. One of the most famous and consistent adherents of Classicism, Matveev spent most of his life in Italy, creating a string of unique works of remarkable technical mastery, combining theoretical notions of idealised subject matter and his real-life impressions based on working with it.

Another interesting work is an early landscape by Ivan Shishkin, titled Pine Forest (£400,000–600,000). This carefully thought out and flawlessly executed painting is unique in that its artistic qualities lend it special importance as a turning point in Shishkin's career, introducing the subject of the pine forest that would dominate his oeuvre for many years. Thus, the painting is a precursor to all Shishkin's subsequent masterpieces, which formed the foundation of Russian landscape school.

Check out MacDougall's on Barnebys here.

Comment