This portrait of an Officer of the Russian Imperial Chevalier Guards was for sale at auction last night. It is by Carl Ludwig Friedrich Becker (German 1820-1900) and measures 22.3 inches x 12.75 inches, excluding its magnificent frame:
which substantially increases both the size and the effect of the picture. I was smitten with it, and placed a bid, which sadly was superseded ten times. The pain of watching it soar was all too evident, as unusually I was able to watch the bidding on line. But I was not tempted to exceed the limit I had set in my mind.
This lot was sold together with many other items from imperial Russia, including this pendant depicting Tsar Alexander III,
which I thought had some resemblance to a royal award given by a sovereign to his or her female family members, usually affixed to a court dress by a grosgrain ribbon. (Queen Elizabeth II wears two of the Royal Family Order - one from her grandfather King George V - white ribbon, and one from her father, King George VI - pink ribbon.)
Queen Elizabeth II's own Royal Family Order, (worn inter alia by the late Queen Elizabeth, and the Duchess of Cornwall), with its yellow ribbon.
The price achieved certainly suggests that it might have been that important, and indeed I imagined that all the lots were from an émigré with imperial Russian ties. However, it seems they were merely from a collector, so my romantic notions about a bygone era have been quashed.
Prior to the lot coming up we were discussing exactly where we would hang the picture of the guardsman. Ah well, at least the four pictures that would have had to be moved will not now need to exercise my mind. And I need a few readies for my next foray, which I fear will be unsuccessful too, as I'm sure it will exceed my limit. All to be revealed after Sunday's auction for that lot.