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Michail Larionov (1881 - 1964)

Lot 124: f - Mikhail Fedorovich Larionov, 1881-1964 , Still life with Jug and Icon, c.1910-1912


June 12, 2007
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


signed and titled in Latin on reverse oil on canvas


98.5 by 131.5cm., 38¾ by 51¾in.


Formerly in the collection of the artist's family


Painted circa 1910-1912, the present work is a striking example of Larionov?s Neo-Primitivist style. This still life attests to the artist?s love of icons and the influence of folk-art forms on his work and life, with its display of familiar everyday objects: an urn, a jug, a map of Europe (tellingly, with Russia featured at its centre) and an icon resting upon a richly patterned chair. The work echoes Still Life with Crayfish (Still Life with Crayfish, c. 1910-1912, Rheinisches Bildarchiv, Köln. Collection Museum Ludwig, Köln. Illustrated in Parton, Fig: 86) from the same period, which is also characterised by a display of folk-art artefacts and painted in the same almost abstract idiom, in which maximum expression is achieved through simple lines and bold use of colour. By emphasising national artefacts and painting still lives such as the present work with its objects thickly outlined in black, Larionov was borrowing directly from lubok convention and sought to underplay Western influences on his work. The presence of the icon on the left of the composition is highly significant. Not only was Larionov fascinated with and highly knowledgeable about icons (in 1913, for instance, he was to organize an exhibition with Goncharova of Icons and Lubki, showing 129 icons from his own collection), but his own style was greatly influenced by the aesthetic of icon painting. Larionov was unconcerned with Christian themes in his work; however, the icon held a great importance for him as a basis for expressing the spiritual possibilities of abstracted form, a view which he summarised in his own essay, "Les Icones": "The Russian icon painters were boldly led towards an important abstraction. This abstraction manifested itself in the use of schemas and pre-established formulas related to a predetermined style through which they expressed the abstract and mystical sense of life... . It is through the nuances of color and the finesse of graphic forms that the religious and mystical state we experience when contemplating icons manifests itself... . The beauty and finesse of the drawing of these stylized forms and the fascinating abstract harmony of their coloration aspire to render the world of the beyond? it is a kind of spiritual realism? you really believe that they concern another life.? (Larionov, Mikhail. ?Les Icônes?, pp.132-133, c. 1920 in Larionov, M. Une Avant-Garde Explosive, 1978.)

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Russian Day Sale - Paintings

June 12, 2007, 12:00 PM EST

London, United Kingdom

For Sale from Sotheby's