Autumn Twilight, signed with initials, also further signed in Latin and Cyrillic, titled in Cyrillic and dated “Oktyabr’ 1900” on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, laid on board, 37.5 by 53 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, USA. Anonymous sale; Russian Art Evening, Sotheby’s London, 9 June 2008, lot 37. Acquired from the above by the present owner. Private collection, UK.
Dating from 1900, when the artist was only 19 years old, Autumn Twilight is one of Mikhail Larionov’s earliest surviving oil paintings to remain in private hands. It was painted only two years after Larionov had enrolled at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he first studied under Isaak Levitan. It also predates what is generally accepted as his Impressionist period. However, it already shows the influence of leading French Impressionists, such as Renoir. In particular, it brings to mind paintings by Claude Monet, examples of which the artist had seen in the celebrated collection of Sergei Shchukin. It was the work of these artists that would influence Larionov for several years to follow.
Autumn Twilight is typical for the artist’s work from this period when Larionov painted the world around him and, like the Impressionists, was particularly drawn to scenes from everyday life. In the present work, he depicts a fashionable woman walking her dog in one of Moscow’s parks, a motif which reappears in a picture titled The Park, painted a couple of years later. Another characteristic of Larionov’s early pictures is the subtle use of colours. Here, the red of the woman’s dress contrasts with and complements the muted greens of the surroundings. This use of colours was to be a feature of Larionov’s work throughout his life, and in this sense his early paintings already foreshadow the crucial role he would play in the development of the Russian avantgarde. As Nikolai Punin noted, “In these early pieces of his one can already observe the great artistically revolutionary will that subsequently made Larionov the head of a new school.”