The famous auction house Christie’s asked Purling London to loan a chessboard on which to display a set of Soviet Chess pieces, ‘The Reds and the Whites’ by the State Porcelain Factory, Leningrad (1933-34), specially for its ‘Important Russian Art’ Sale.
Wishing to exceed their expectations, Purling Founder, Simon Purkis suggested creating a bespoke hand-painted chessboard to perfectly complement the antique pieces – and Christie’s accepted. Simon and artist, Nette Robinson arrived at the auction house’s St. James’ headquarters in order to see the rare porcelain chess pieces in person. Together with the Christie’s staff they discussed and agreed the unique chessboard design and colour-matched the pieces.
‘The Reds and the Whites’ porcelain chess set was designed by Soviet sculptor Natalya Danko (1892-1942) and plays Communists versus Capitalists.
On the White (Capitalist) side, the King is designed as Death, the Queen as Fortuna with a cornucopia, the Bishops as White Army officers, the Knights as armoured horses surmounted with double-headed eagles, the Rooks as boats, and the Pawns as chained serfs.
On the Red (Communists) side, the King is designed as a blacksmith, the Queen as a peasant woman, the Bishops as soldiers of the Red Army, the Knights as horses with red stars, the Rooks as boats, and the Pawns as workers bearing sickles and sheaves of corn.
Wishing not to overshadow the beautiful pieces with excess decoration, the hand-painted Nette Robinson x Purling London chessboard created, takes inspiration from the ocean wave motif on the Rooks, and matches the burgundy red and warm gold palette perfectly.
We were delighted to be invited to the pre-auction party at Christie’s London and had the pleasure of seeing the beautiful chess pieces on the custom Purling chessboard up close, next to many other important pieces of Russian art.
In part due to the fine presentation, the chess set sold at the auction for more than double the £30,000 lower estimate at £75,000.
Purling London would be delighted to create a bespoke hand-painted game board to complement your antique Chess, Backgammon or Checkers pieces. To learn more about Purling London Bespoke please click HERE or get in touch via our Contact Form below.
To read more about the ‘The Reds and the Whites’ chess set on the Christie’s website please click HERE.