Street in the South of France, signed and dated 1923.
Oil on canvas, 60.5 by 80 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, UK.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
Painted by Konstantin Korovin in 1923, Street in the South of France is one of the earliest works from the period which followed his voluntary exile from the Soviet Union. It is part of the cycle of brilliant, masterly pictures that the artist created over a number of years on his trips to the sea. His contemporaries recall that he could interrupt a stroll at any corner or bring his driver to a halt with the words “Stop! I want to paint!” and then on the spot he would sketch a scene, which to those around him would appear unremarkable, but in Korovin’s hands would unexpectedly acquire integrity as a subject worth portraying.
In Korovin’s French and Crimean landscapes it becomes especially apparent that the painting is more important to the artist than the subject, and the fragmentary, sometimes incidental composition is only a pretext for creating a veritable poem of light and colour. Street in the South of France is one of these impetuous works which preserve for us Korovin’s mastery of the painter’s art and the maxim that guided his creative effort: “more gladness, more brightness”.
Genre paintings such as this were a rarity in Korovin’s oeuvre at the time. The features of the street scene – with its lush gardens and women passers-by all bathed in a midday torpor – call the mind towards the everyday details, which are characteristic of the artist’s earlier productions. The sunlight, dappled with pink and the purple shadows on the road are typical of the artist’s palette. Korovin’s mastery of the brush and outstanding sense
of colour, both of which are displayed to full effect in this painting, was aptly described by a contemporary, who said that “All the colours of the world smiled at him.”