Nude, signed and dated 1972, also further signed and dated on the reverse.
Oil on canvas, 66.5 by 54.5 cm.
Provenance: Collection of the artist.
With the salon of the Art Fund of the USSR, Leningrad (label on the stretcher).
Gekkoso Gallery, Tokyo (labels on the backing board and on the reverse of the frame).
The picture entitled Nude (1972), which is offered at the present auction, is an outstanding work from the heyday of Andrei Mylnikov. The classic compositional balance, accomplished draughtsmanship and rich colouration of the painting are immediately evident. The young model radiates freshness and reminds us of such great forbears as Degas’ After the Bath, Renoir’s Portrait of Jeanne Samary and Mary Cassatt’s Mother. Works by Mylnikov are now extremely rare on the market and of great interest to lovers of easel painting. It should be noted that the painter’s oeuvre is well represented in Russia’s leading museums (the State Tretyakov Gallery and the State Russian Museum), as well as in many prestigious private collections in Russia and abroad.
The artist’s work is inextricably linked with fine art of the Soviet period and the history of the Repin Institute of the Russian Academy of Arts in St Petersburg. Mylnikov was a luminary of Soviet art, serving as Vice-President of the Academy. He was also a Hero of Socialist Labour, the winner of prestigious state awards and, above all, a great artist and a sensitive, progressive teacher.
Interestingly, Mylnikov departed early on from the canons of Socialist Realism, deliberately turning his attention to the “warm” aspects of humanist painting. The change in Mylnikov’s creativity coincided with Khrushchev’s Thaw, when the artist took motherhood, family life, the lyrical Russian landscape and the eternal beauty of the female nude as his main themes. Mylnikov transforms the achievements of the French Impressionists in his own way, focusing on “fluid” plasticity of a brushstroke and the power of colour effects. The painterly style of the artist is quite distinctive; he does not resort to descriptive detail, even though his creative base is the classical tradition of European art of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Mylnikov was at the peak of his career from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, when his art made best use of the plein air tradition. He transformed the finest examples of the classical style, consecrated by Paul Cézanne, Auguste Renoir and Edgar Degas, using his own special gift to imbue eternal human themes with the unique flair of the Leningrad academic school. Mylnikov’s undisputed masterpieces of the time are Mother and Child (1964), Sisters (1967), Summer (1969), Spring (1972), Windy Day (1975) and Dream (1974). The canvas Nude, offered for sale, can be added to this list of unique paintings.