For those of you who go to auctions and love to have a rummage in the job lot boxes, this one is for you. I must be honest I always try to have a quick look at said job lots. When it come to decorative prints, sometimes old maps, you simply never know what you may come across. Often with not enough time to wade through a box with hundreds of items I'll take a risk. If I've spotted a few things of interest then I'll take a punt and place a calculated bid on the lot. It's a bit like a lucky dip, you never know what you might get especially tucked away at the bottom of the box.
Recently on going through a pile of prints I'd set aside momentarily, which turned into a couple of years, I noticed what was tucked away at the bottom of the box! To my delight I discovered a small number of scarce Russian Art prints.
Having taken the time to research the prints I discovered they're from “Antiquities of the Russian State.” Originally conceived by A.N. Olenin, President of the Academy of Arts, and undertaken with the patronage of Tsar Nicholas I. with descriptions written by Stroganov and illustrated by Fedor Solntsev. The work was published in a modest edition of 600 copies.
Czar Nicholas I, emperor of all Russia from 1825 to 1855, in a sense had his own image consultant, the artist Fedor Solntsev. Nicholas commissioned Solntsev to make illustrations for what would become the work “Antiquities of the Russian State" Published 1825-55. The book started as a portable version of the vast riches housed in the Kremlin’s collection; it became a go-to manual on the Old Russian style, which reflected the country’s medieval past visually and also connoted the czar’s power over a huge and heterogeneous country.
The large folio prints, loose as first issued are fine chromolithographs. You can now see the prints online as they are part of The New York Public Library's Digital Collection. See the link below:
New York Public Library Digital Collection
I have just a handful of these scarce prints available, thanks to the bottom of the box!
You can see them here: Russian Art