Description: A basket of flowers
signed in Cyrillic and dated 'Korovin Konst/1913.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
33 3/4 x 25 3/4 in. (85.7 x 65.4 cm.)
Artist or Maker: Konstantin Alekseevich Korovin (1861-1939)
Provenance: Mrs Olga Hauser, New York.
Thence by descent to the present owners.
Notes: THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
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Considered by many to be the first Russian impressionist and a master of plein-air painting, Konstantin Korovin enrolled at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture at the age of fourteen and was taught by A. Savrasov, V. Perov and later by V. Polenov. The latter introduced the young artist to S. Mamontov's circle at Abramtsevo, which led to Korovin designing for productions of Bizet's Carmen and Verdi's Aida at Mamontov's private opera house. These commissions allowed Korovin to travel to Spain and France, heralding a period during which the artist flourished.
Korovin's painterly impressions of the bright, colourful life of Paris, including 'A Paris Café' (1890s, The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow) and 'Le Boulevard Italien' (1908, The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow), particularly influenced the artist's oeuvre, injecting a vitality which was felt in his later works. From 1910 onwards, his canvases show a freer manner characterised by the lush, buoyant gamut of colours used in the still life 'Roses and violets' (Fig. 1).
The present still life, executed merely one year after 'Roses and violets', shows the remarkable development of Korovin's style and technique. The delicate pastel palette lends the canvas a subtlety which is supported by his confident brushstrokes. Korovin merges the basket of flowers and fruit with their surroundings; the red and green grapes appear to dissolve, investing the still life with an almost abstract quality. As A. M. Efros wrote, Korovin was '...in love with the movements of atmosphere and light which embrace the visible world...[aiming to] recreate nature in the vibration of atmosphere' (see A. M. Efros, Dva veka russkogo iskusstva, Moscow, 1969).
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