Winter Palace Furniture Discovered


By Clive Kandel

In January 2009, eleven pieces of an Imperial Russian suite of furniture were found and were offered at auction by Bukowski’s Auction House in Helsinki, Finland. However, due to an ownership dispute they were withdrawn just before the sale began. The resulting national publicity in Scandinavia helped another owner recognize that she owned an identical 12-piece set. It proved to be a further discovery of a long lost Imperial Commission and that second set was offered for sale by the same auction house, in their Stockholm branch, on December 13-14, 2009.

Originally, the Louis XVI styled suite of silvered furniture adorned the Silver Salon of the Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna in the Winter Palace, St Petersburg. Its designer was the architect N. V. Nabokov, who decorated all of the private apartments of Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina’s Alexandra Feodorovna. It was made in master craftsman N. F. Svirsky’s carpentry workshops.

After the Revolution in 1918, the Bolsheviks sold off treasures from the Winter Palace, including some furniture. “The appearance of the Silver set, which was known only from some old photos, without any exaggeration can be regarded as a real sensation,” says Dr. Iraida Bott, Vice-Director of the Tsarskoye Selo museum. ”Its perfect condition once again proves the very high level of mastership of the Russian craftsmen who worked for the Court.”

Amongst fierce bidding between dealers, collectors and representatives of the Hermitage Museum, the twelve pieces fetched 380,000 Euros, or $570,000.

Bukowskis Image

Images Courtesy of Christies Images, Sotheby’s Images, V & A , British Museum,
and Clive Kandel Collection