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The Independent Online
SNIPS of the week are at Bonhams Chelsea's sale of Russian realist paintings, bought by a single vendor, generally from living artists. Most estimates are under pounds 200. Russian art prices collapsed under the weight of dealers' greed in the early Nineties after British and American gallery owners had hotfooted through the former Soviet Union's newly opened doors, bought lorry-loads of cheap daubs and added a nought to the prices when they got home. London's Red Square Gallery collapsed and its mediocre stock at Bonhams Chelsea last July raised a measly pounds 9,350 for 120 pictures.

The trade in Russian art is still dealer-dominated, but the Chelsea sale, Thursday (2pm), is not of dealers' dead stock. The vendor is a British enthusiast for Russian art, a non-dealer, who has chosen this consignment specially for auction instead of a gallery. The commissars will not be best pleased to see their native art tested under the hammer - the harsh auction trade will ensure that prices, as well as the artistic genre, are realistic.

The paintings themselves are figurative and, although minor, are painted with flair. There are closely observed, colourful scenes of Russian life. Only two of the artists have a track record at auction in Britain. Pink and White Roses, by Vladimir Serov (d 1968), is estimated pounds 150- pounds 250; the unfinished The Artist, by Fyodor Reshetnikov (d 1983), is est pounds 300-pounds 500.


Traditional mainstays of the market, Old Masters have wobbled during hard times. There is a mixed bag of middle-market paintings at Sotheby's Wednesday (10.30am), Christie's South Kensington, Thursday (10.30am) and Bonhams Thursday (11am).

Bonhams and Minton ware are both celebrating their bicentenaries, hence Bonhams sale of Minton Friday (2pm). Estimates range from around pounds 500 to pounds 60,000 - the latter for a monumental vase with chained Prometheans which has become known as 'the boys in bondage'.

At Christie's South Kensington, Wednesday (10.30am): carpets and furniture and souvenirs of the grand tour. Also at South Ken: toys and dolls, Thursday (2pm). High-quality motoring and travel posters at Onslow's, Wednesday (2pm).


Salisbury: Contents of Myles Place, estate of the late Sir Philip Sherbourne, former chairman of Britoil. Two-day sale, including Meissen and Biedermeier furniture, Monday and Tuesday (11am daily). Christie's (071-839 9060).

Birmingham: Musical instruments, sheet music, books of musical interest, Monday (11am), Clare's Auction Rooms, 70 Park Street, Digbeth (021 643 0226).

Malmesbury: Annual sale of architectural and unusual lots at Brillscote Farm, tomorrow (10am): carousel art and animals, advertising signs and point-of-sale figures, boat, aeroplane and locomotive models, shopfittings, childhood memorabilia: at Lea, M4 exits 16 or 17 (071-387 6039).

Torquay: Collection of 400 posy holders, Chinese, Clarice Cliff, Derby and Worcester ceramics, silver, paintings by Beryl Cook, Frederick Gore and de Breanski, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (10.30am daily). Bearne's, Avenue Road (0803 296277).

Oxford and Cheltenham: Mallam's two-day sale of antiques and collectables, St Michael's Street, Oxford, Wednesday (11am) and Grosvenor Galleries, Cheltenham, Thursday (11am). Oxford (0865 241358), Cheltenham (0242 235712).

Guildford: General tinplate and diecast toy sale in the County Suite, Civic Hall, London Road, Wednesday (11.15am). Vectis Models (0983 292272).


Wednesday-Saturday: Bath Antiques and Fine Art, The Assembly Rooms (0823 323363).

Thursday-Saturday: Biannual High Wycombe Antiques, Royal Grammar School (0494 673674). East Anglian Antique Dealers, Langley School, Loddon (0603 737631).

Thursday-Sunday: East Berkshire Antiques, Burchett's Green, Maidenhead (0548 531356).

Friday-Sunday: Annual Nuneaton Antiques: Chase Hotel, Higham Lane (Antiques in Britain Fairs; 0273 423355). Chelsea Brocante, Old Town Hall, King's Road, London SW3 (0428 685452).

Countrywide: Antiques Trade Gazette (071- 930 4957) and Government Auction News (0686 668851, hotline 0891 887700).

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