A State Porcelain Factory figure by Natalina Danko (1892-1943) emerged at auction in Grantham earlier this month.
Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Roland Arkell
The animated 5in (12cm) polychrome model of a female worker in traditional costume sold to a buyer from an ex-Communist bloc nation at Golding Young & Mawer on October 3.
Danko was the key artist at the State Porcelain Factory in the post-Revolution period.
Joining the factory in 1914 and head of the sculpture workshop from 1919, she was the designer of more than 300 figures and compositions. Many were meticulously painted by her younger sister, Elena. This rare model – with a covered well to the rocky base that could be used for ink – is signed and carries marks for the State Porcelain Factory in Petrograd c.1925.
When first seen by the auctioneers in a Lincolnshire collection it was missing a hand but, following a discussion with the vendor, a decision was taken to have the piece professionally restored in advance of the sale.
A contest, that opened at £20,000, was dominated by UK-based East European bidders and participants from the old USSR countries. The final bid of £50,000 came via thesaleroom.com.
Occasionally, huge multi-estimate prices have been paid for the rarest Danko figures at auction.
They include a c.1933 satirical model of a Leningrad bureaucrat (£110,000 at Christie’s in November 2017) and the 1922 figure Marochka (£95,000 at Christie’s in June 2018). However, little has come close to Danko’s 10in (25cm) 1923 figure of Nijinsky performing Diaghilev’s Le Spectre de la Rose. At the height of the Russian saleroom revolution it sold for a record premium-inclusive £344,000 (estimate £5000-7000) at Sotheby’s Olympia in 2005.