Portrait of Russian Princess off the Block at Sotheby's

A portrait of Russia's grand princess Alexandra Pavlovna painted by Fyodor Bognevsky was put off the block Friday at Russian auction slated for May 21st by Sotheby's in London, Anatoly Vilkov, head of the Russian Culture Ministry's Department for Conservation of Cultural Values, announced today.

He said that prior to World War Two, the portrait was most probably stored at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. Department staff identified the portrait using Volume 3 of the "Combined Catalogue of Cultural Valuables Stolen or Lost during World War Two," published by Russia's Culture Ministry.

The portrait was painted in the late 18th century or early 19th century from the original created by Vladimir Borovikovsky, located in the Pavlovsk Palace outside St. Petersburg. In 1941, the canvas was captured by the invading Nazi army at the Alupkinsky Palace in the Crimea, where it was temporarily on display together with some other Russian Museum items. For a long time, it was presumed lost beyond recovery.

Department for Conservation of Cultural Values head Vilkov contacted Sotheby's to request the portrait not be auctioned, a request he stressed the auction house granted. The portrait's fate will be settled through negotiations with its current owner.

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Author`s name Petr Ermilin