View of the Phoenician Steps, Capri, signed, inscribed "Capri", titled in Cyrillic "Arka", numbered "N 2" and dated 1914.
Pencil and sanguine on paper, laid on cardboard, 65.5 by 90 cm.
Provenance: Collection of the artist’s family (label on the reverse).
Acquired directly from the artist’s widow by the present owner in the 1970s.
Private collection, Europe.
Exhibited: Possibly, IX vystavka novogo obshchestva khudozhnikov. 1914–1915, Petrograd, 1914, No. 228, 229, 230 or 231. Vystavka proizvedenii V.I. Shukhaeva. K 80-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya, Research Museum of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, Leningrad, 1969 (label on the reverse). Vasilii Ivanovich Shukhaev. K 90-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya, The State Museum of Oriental Art, Moscow, 1977.
Literature: Possibly, exhibition catalogue, IX vystavka novogo obshchestva khudozhnikov. 1914–1915, Petrograd, 1914, p. 19, No. 228, 229, 230 or 231, listed as Zapisi s Kapri. Groty.
Exhibition catalogue, Vasilii Ivanovich Shukhaev. K vos’midesyatiletiyu so dnya rozhdeniya, Leningrad,
Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1968, listed as Arka.
I. Myamlin, Vasilii Ivanovich Shukhaev, Leningrad, Khudozhnik RSFSR, 1972, p. 163, listed under works from 1914 as Arka.
Exhibition catalogue, Vasilii Ivanovich Shukhaev. K 90-letiyu so dnya rozhdeniya, Moscow, Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1977, listed under works from the 1910s as Kapri. Ushchelie.
Vasiliy Shukhaev’s View of the Phoenician Steps, Capri offered here at auction is a shining example not only of the artist’s superb handling of the sanguine technique, but also of his quest to comprehend the inner, elemental life of nature in all its grandeur and great variety.
View of the Phoenician Steps, Capri dates to the time when Shukhaev and his closest friend and creative kindred spirit Alexander Yakovlev were travelling round Italy studying and absorbing the tenets of Renaissance art in their attempt to carry them on through their own creative work. Traditional features of classicism are reflected in the famous double self-portrait Harlequin and Pierrot, now in the collection of the State Russian Museum, which Shukhaev and Yakovlev painted on the island of Capri in 1914. The present lot belongs to this same period. Full of drama, as the steps scale the island’s mountainous terrain, the painting has a monumental quality typical of the artist’s choice of landscape motifs. That time in Italy marked the beginning of many landscape series that Shukhaev went on to produce: the French (1924–1934), the Tsikhisdzhvari (1950s – early 1960s), and also the later series of landscapes around Moscow and views of Georgia. The artist’s skilled technique in using sanguine, coupled with amazing expressiveness of line, lends an academic polish to this work, which allows us to consider Shukhaev as one of the great neoclassicists of the 20th century.