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Important Russian Art

by MacDougall's Auctions


48 lots with images

May 27, 2012

30A Charles II Street

London, SW1Y 4AE United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)207 389 8160

Fax: +44 (0)207 389 8170

Email: info@macdougallauction.com

BRODSKY, ISAAK (1884-1939) New Moon, signed and

Lot 1: BRODSKY, ISAAK (1884-1939) New Moon, signed and

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Description: BRODSKY, ISAAK (1884-1939) New Moon, signed and dated 1912. Oil on canvas, 62 by 80 cm. Provenance: Collection of E.I. Brodsky, the artist's son, Leningrad.Private collection, St Petersburg.Private collection, Europe.Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Kruglov.Exhibited: Isaak Israilevich Brodsky. Vystavka proizvedenii. K 90-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya, Museum of the Academy of Arts, Leningrad, 1974.Isaak Israilevich Brodsky. Vystavka k 100-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya, Museum of the Academy of Arts, Leningrad, 1984.Literature: I.I. Brodsky, Sbornik statei, Leningrad, Izdanie yubileinogo komiteta, 1929, illustrated in black and white.Isaak Israilevich Brodsky. Stat'i, pis'ma, dokumenty, Moscow, Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1956, p. 179, listed under works from 1912.Exhibition catalogue, Isaak Israilevich Brodsky. Katalog vystavki proizvedenii. K 90-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya, Leningrad, Iskusstvo, 1974, p. 32, listed.Exhibition catalogue, Isaak Israilevich Brodsky. Vystavka k 100-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya, Leningrad, Iskusstvo, 1984, p. 42, listed.Isaak Brodsky painted New Moon soon after returning from his travels round Spain, France and Italy, and the painting has noticeable signs of the romanticised approach to nature which is characteristic of the artist's work in the 1910s. The attraction of this painting is a poetry that tugs at the heartstrings and its lyrical image of evening. It is a work of symbolism, but at the same time it retains a sense of naturalism in its vision of nature.The moon is a pale sickle, the branches of the trees glint, and a softly diffused light shines on the ground. The generally subdued palette of this landscape and the delicate relationships between the cold and the slightly warmer blue-grey tones, with no sharp contrast between dark and light, create the feeling of a sonorous and transparently clear dewy autumn evening. The painting comprises several layers: against the delicate blue-grey background the foliage is painted in patches of Umber and Sienna and later the twigs are touched in with a fine round brush to add expressive detail. Brodsky made the transition from a relatively fluid, Italian use of paint to a slightly fuller-bodied technique on a "thinned out" background.In his recollections Arkadiy Rylov gives a very exact description of the artist's landscape technique: "Brodsky - like a jeweller or a weaver - covers his landscapes in patterns... These colourful patterns are original and lovely. He does not paint, but rather he draws with a fine paintbrush".In fact, among the various means of expression employed in New Moon it is drawing that plays the leading role. Everything is subordinated to a stylising delineation. It is easy to discern strong admiration for the creative alignment of two associations - the Union of Russian Artists and World of Art. The conventionality of the painting's rendition and the accentuated decorativeness of the composition are reminiscent of a theatrical backcloth created by the brush of a virtuoso artist and glimpsed, as it were, through the branches of the wings and scenery borders.It is surprising that Brodsky never turned his hand to theatre design. It is hard to find landscapes more theatrically constructed than his. The tree canopies and branches in the wings guide the eye into the open space of the landscape, allowing the focus to fall on the delicate, fragile beauty of nature lapsing into sleep and the barely discernible village floating in the distance. The view through branches into a landscape's depth was one of the artist's favourite and oft-repeated devices: indeed, one of Brodsky's paintings from the 1910s was called Through the Branches.A contemporary of Brodsky's, the renowned painter Konstantin Yuon, recalled: "I always understood his landscapes as pieces of music, the fine violin part led by his drawing, ever melodious". And the artist himself, giving rein to his thoughts at the time, wrote: "My favourite motifs have remained, as before, landscapes seen in breadth, with wide open spaces and a perspective receding into their depths. I have been striving to construct landscape as a compositional entity, as a picture, intuitively resisting preoccupation with landscape sketched from nature, as inspired by Impressionism, which the imitators of that school elevated to a value sufficient in itself, driving out the idea of composing large creative works of art".During the period when New Moon was painted, and right up until the Revolution, the vast majority of critics described Brodsky primarily as a landscape painter, which was partly due to his exceptional productivity in this genre.

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YUON, KONSTANTIN (1875-1958) Gates of the Rostov

Lot 2: YUON, KONSTANTIN (1875-1958) Gates of the Rostov

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Description: YUON, KONSTANTIN (1875-1958) Gates of the Rostov Kremlin, signed. Oil on canvas, 63 by 81 cm. Provenance: Previously in the collection of I. Isadzhanov, Moscow. Private collection, Europe.Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert Yu. Rybakova.Exhibited: Vystavka kartin K.F. Yuona. K 25-letiyu khudozhestvennoi deyatel'nosti, The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 1926, No. 7. Sovetskie khudozhniki starshego pokoleniya, Moscow, June 1958 (label on the reverse).Literature: A. Koiransky, K.F. Yuon, St Petersburg, A. Kogan, 1918, p. 68, listed under works from 1906.Exhibition catalogue, Vystavka kartin K.F. Yuona. K 25-letiyu khudozhestvennoi deyatel'nosti, Moscow, 1926, p. 30, No. 7, listed.N. Tretyakov, K.F. Yuon, Moscow, 1957, p. 103, listed under works from 1906.Yu. Osmolovskii, Konstantin Fedorovich Yuon, Moscow, Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1982, p. 226, listed under works from 1906. The present work was published as a postcard by the Community of Saint Eugenia before 1926.Konstantin Yuon's cycle of works dedicated to the ancient Russian town of Rostov the Great dates back to 1903, when a record in his handwriting appeared in the visitors' book of the Rostov Museum: "Konstantin Yuon, artist from Moscow". From that time on Rostov was for many years a place of pilgrimage for the artist. He came to work here from 1904 to 1906 and again from 1913 to 1916. The majestic ancient architecture became the subject of many of Yuons's Rostov paintings. The majority of these works are now held in the State Tretyakov Gallery and the State Russian Museum as well as local museums in Omsk, Ryazan and Serpukhov.One of the few exceptions is the outstanding Gates of the Rostov Kremlin, well known from books, which has hitherto remained in a private collection but which MacDougall's now offers for the first time at public auction. It is one of the most important works in the Rostov cycle. Painted in 1906, it differs dramatically from Yuon's other works of this period which are based on the interaction between a genre element in the foreground and a wide panorama of the kremlin (Fine Day. Rostov the Great, 1906; Spring Evening. Rostov the Great, 1906; Winter. Rostov the Great, 1906).Painted from life, Gates of the Rostov Kremlin astounds the viewer with the sheer strength of its architectural mass. The artist is seeking to convey the powerful resonance of the white stone of the main holy gates of the kremlin, the harmoniously aligned rhythms of the two fortress towers adjoining the gates and the gatehouse church of the Resurrection, the window apertures of which in their rhythmic tread echo the arcades of the gallery. This striking effect is strengthened by the minimalism of the details, carefully selected and positioned, providing colour accents in the monochrome mass of stone. This piece clearly indicates the influence of Serov with his delicate nuances in composition and lighting.Yuon depicts a bright summer's day but does not drench the scene in light, instead he makes his sunlit world, and first and foremost the architecture, extremely clear and well-defined in terms of its mass, while at the same time conveying the tremulousness and transparency of the summer atmosphere. The variety of the colour and light effects, the air and sunshine which pervade the picture, the purity of the paints, the colour in the shadows, the lively texture of his free brushwork - all these superlative aspects of Yuon's technique are present in Gates of the Rostov Kremlin.Thanks to the authentically Impressionistic treatment of the motif, in Yuon's characterisitc generalisation of forms, the fragmented composition and the broad brush-strokes, this canvas becomes a true paean to light, the nation's history seemingly come to life before our eyes. The artist explained his Rostov works thus: "At that time it was as if I were painting and living in two different eras - encompassing both the past and the present."

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VINOGRADOV, SERGEI (1869-1938) Gathering Mushrooms

Lot 3: VINOGRADOV, SERGEI (1869-1938) Gathering Mushrooms

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Description: VINOGRADOV, SERGEI (1869-1938) Gathering Mushrooms in the Forest, signed and dated 1927. Oil on canvas, 73 by 92 cm. Provenance: Previously in the collection of Christen Overgaard (1876-1954), director of Burmeister & Wain Shipyard, Denmark.Private collection, Europe.Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.Exhibited: XLIX Exhibition, Prague, 1928, No. 126.Literature: Exhibition catalogue, XLIX Exhibition, Prague, 1928, No. 126, listed.N. Stankevich, Sergei Vinogradov, Leningrad, Iskusstvo, 1970, p. 132, listed.Sergei Vinogradov painted Gathering Mushrooms in the Forest in Latvia where, having decided not to return to Soviet Russia after his trip to America, he settled in 1924. Vinogradov quickly slotted into the local Russian cultural community, and the Latgalian estates of his hospitable new pupils and friends became his favourite subjects to paint and places to spend time. Here he produced his celebrated forest landscapes, drew Latgalian peasants in national costume and even produced some works on the folklore motifs that were popular with artists of his generation. Among these are the drawing Game, now in the Ufa Art Museum, and the present lot, Gathering Mushrooms in the Forest.This painting, with its emerald fir trees and dark wall of forest in the background, is imbued with an atmosphere of lyricism. Bright summer sunshine penetrates through the branches, illuminating the green crests of the trees. An early-morning mist still creeps along the ground, clearing at the distant forest border to reveal white birch-trunks within. In the forest glade we see the green of fir-trees and small pines - a favourite subject of this artist. White flowers show brightly through the grass, and in this joyous natural setting is a beautiful maiden, reminiscent of Russian legends, gathering mushrooms. This unity of humankind with nature is portrayed with an easy, fluid hand. The bold use of an intense, saturated cobalt blue for the maiden's dress suggests to the viewer not so much a Latgalian village of the artist's time, but rather romantic recollections of the folk-tale characters of Nesterov and Vasnetsov, and of Pushkin's "peasant lady", roaming the forest in a sarafan of "blue nankeen" with a basket of birch-bark, anticipating a meeting with the son of the neighbouring landowner.In the effort to perfect his technique, Vinogradov did not search for a new, original expressive form in his Latvian work. On the contrary, the picture Gathering Mushrooms in the Forest emphasises his painstakingly preserved adherence to the traditions of the Russian Realist school, of which he once proudly said: "I know my art: all my studying, observing, remembering and working was not in vain. Now technique poses no problems to me. Provided I live long enough, I have accumulated sufficient sundry ideas, themes and, most importantly, nuances in my visual memory to fill ten exhibitions." And there was indeed, in a Copenhagen gallery in 1927, the Free Exhibition of Russian Art, to which Vinogradov, visiting the Danish capital for the first time, brought 40 of his best canvasses. Calm in mood, executed with unimpeachable skill, they were so good that Danish journalists were continually noting the "artistic veracity and freshness" of many of the artist's works. Today, unfortunately, we do not have reliable information as to whether Gathering Mushrooms in the Forest was included in that exhibition, but its impeccable provenance - it was in the collection of the celebrated Danish collector and art connoisseur Christen Overgaard, who in 1926 became chairman of the Danish Industry Council - leads us to believe that he may have acquired this canvas along with others exhibited at this exhibition.

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SHILDER, ANDREI (1861-1919) Before the Storm,

Lot 4: SHILDER, ANDREI (1861-1919) Before the Storm,

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Description: SHILDER, ANDREI (1861-1919) Before the Storm, signed and dated 1918. Oil on canvas, 160 by 120 cm. Provenance: Private collection, UK.Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.Exhibited: Pervaya gosudarstvennaya svobodnaya vystavka proizvedenii iskusstva, Palace of the Arts, Petrograd, 1919, No. 1584.Literature: Exhibition catalogue, Pervaya gosudarstvennaya svobodnaya vystavka proizvedenii iskusstva, Petrograd, 1919, p. 83, No. 1584, listed.Before the Storm stands out in the oeuvre of Andrei Shilder, not only because it is rare to find a genre element in the landscapes of Shishkin's talented pupil, but also for its particularly poetic composition. Painted in 1918, this striking, monumental work merits special attention for the light it sheds on the attitude of the new generation of Wanderers towards the aims of Russian painting of the 1880s.In this picture Shilder consciously initiates a dialogue with Children Running from the Storm by Konstantin Makovsky, painted almost half a century earlier. Shilder's little girls take up Makovsky's theme, returning home from the forest with their basket filled with berries, they are caught in the elements. But if the clear-cut genre designation of Makovsky's painting prevents us from a "landscape" reading of the work, Shilder's Before the Storm prompts us to view nature as an equally important aspect of the composition. Undoubtedly, nature, which in its restlessness and apprehension corresponds to the human feelings and emotions, plays a major role in both works. Makovsky's frightened children run from the terrible thunder-clouds; Shilder's little girls hurry home to their village. In both works they will encounter on the way the narrow planks of a bridge across the stream - they must not trip on them as they run, must not fall into the dark water. In both pictures there are elements of a certain tender sentimentality, but here the resemblance ends. In Makovsky, the essence of the picture derives from the emotional state of the children, as if they themselves are narrating their adventure: how fearful the cloud was, how thorny the undergrowth, how cold the stream. In Shilder, conversely, the descriptive resonance of the canvas is achieved largely through the inclusion of the little figures of the girls in a carefully planned and precisely conceived landscape environment, of which they are a surprisingly organic element. The figures of the children do, of course, immediately draw our attention, but here they do not dominate, do not seem monumental, do not subjugate their surroundings, but rather exist in unbroken unity with the landscape. At the same time the countryside itself is depicted in a way we could consider to be the artist's "signature" style, with the polished draughtsmanship - learned from Shishkin - of the plants in the middle ground and the extremely expressive silhouettes of the trees against a background, of vivid contrasts between the dark sky and last bright ray of sunlight. In this composition the dominant element is the emotional mood generated by colour and chiaroscuro, stimulating the viewer's imagination and endowing the picture with particular mysteriousness. For this reason we can safely say that Before the Storm is a seminal work in the oeuvre of Shilder, an artist for whom a beautiful landscape, as a skilfully crafted work of art possessing its own means of expression, could in no way be equated with the precise rendering of the reality of nature.

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JAWLENSKY, ALEXEJ VON (1864-1941) Stillleben mit

Lot 5: JAWLENSKY, ALEXEJ VON (1864-1941) Stillleben mit

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Description: JAWLENSKY, ALEXEJ VON (1864-1941) Stillleben mit Heiligenbild und Blumentopf (Still Life with a Picture of a Saint and Pot of Flowers). Oil on board, 54.5 by 44 cm. Painted c. 1910-1912.Provenance: Collection of Hermann Stern, Germany.Private collection, Europe.Literature: The work has been included in the Jawlensky catalogue raisonné and has been published in Bild und Wissenschaft. Forschungsbeiträge zu Leben und Werk Alexej von Jawlenskys, Locarno, Alexej von Jawlensky-Archiv AG, 2006, vol. 2, p. 14, No. 2347, illustrated.Painted in 1910-1912, Stillleben mit Heiligenbild und Blumentopf dates from the most important period in Alexej von Jawlensky's extremely fruitful career, when he and his long-time partner Marianne von Werefkin were at the centre of the rapid changes which were taking place in Munich's avant-garde circles. In 1909, together with Gabriele Münter, Wassily Kandinsky and others they had founded the Neue Künstlervereinigung München, headed by Kandinsky and Jawlensky. A year later, Jawlensky met Franz Marc, who would also become a member, and in 1911 he met Kees van Dongen in Paris, where he again saw Matisse. The year 1911 in particular was a turning point for Jawlensky. In his memoirs which he dictated towards the end of his life to his friend and assistant Lisa Kümmel, the artist recalls: "In the spring of 1911 Marianne Werefkin, Andrej, Helene and I went to Prerow on the Baltic. For me that summer constituted a great step forward in my art. I painted my finest landscapes there as well as large figure paintings in powerful, glowing colours, not at all naturalistic or objective. I used a great deal of red, blue, orange, cadmium yellow and chromium-oxide green."Stillleben mit Heiligenbild und Blumentopf has all the stylistic elements which characterize Jawlensky's best works. During this period, his colours became gradually more vivid and bold, and his work shows a simplicity of form which is further accentuated by the use of strong contours. Jawlensky's simplified forms echo Russian icon painting, which held a lifelong fascination for the artist. In his memoirs, Jawlensky remembers his frequent visits to the Museum of Alexander III in St Petersburg, now the State Russian Museum, where he would admire the icons and even whole iconostases: "a wonderful art of which Europe had so far seen very little".The picture of a saint in Stillleben mit Heiligenbild und Blumentopf appears to represent an icon from the artist's native Russia. Such icons also appear in other still lifes by Jawlensky, such as Stillleben mit Heiligenbild, which the artist painted around the same time as the present work. At the same time, the icon symbolises the spiritual dimension central to Jawlensky's art. In fact, the artist was constantly searching for the means to go beyond material objects: "I had to paint not what I saw, not even what I felt, but only what was in me, in my soul".

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