Bouquet of Lilacs, signed and dated 1949, also further signed, titled in Cyrillic and dated on the stretcher.
Oil on canvas, 80.5 by 98 cm.
Provenance: Collection of the artist. Thence by descent. Acquired from the artist’s widow by the previous owner.
Important private collection, USA.
Boris Ioganson’s Bouquet of Lilacs, offered for sale, reveals quite distinctively the freshness, joy and true musicality of painting that Ioganson absorbed from Konstantin Korovin – the “Mozart of painting”, as he called his teacher. It was from him that the artist also inherited a love for floral compositions, particularly for lilacs and roses. As early as the 1930s, when the artist moved to his dacha at Abramtsevo, still life paintings and flowers came to be a sort of alternative to official commissions in the oeuvre of this acclaimed painter of socialist realism, who was so much in favour with the authorities. The lilacs, apple trees and roses grown in his own garden proved to be the favourite models for the artist’s private canvases over many years. It was in them that Ioganson saw the main area for formal artistic exploration and experimentation in the 1940s and 1950s, as did his closest fellow-artists, Petr Konchalovsky and Alexander Gerasimov, who was no less successful a pupil of Korovin.
The deliberately austere and unpretentious arrangements, using flowering lilac stems in a jar or an ordinary earthenware vase, allowed Ioganson to highlight not the narrative element, but artistic skill, the energy of the brush movements and the wealth of varied brushstrokes. Quite evidently, in his “lilacs” there is a clear interest in a search, in each of the bouquets, for a special plastic treatment, colour scheme and perspective, which help to create a definite image. They display a freedom of self-expression, a focus on conveying colour and lighting effects, and the artistry of contact between brush and canvas, as well as beauty and richness of texture. The artist is invariably attracted by the juxtaposition of different objects – a glass jar, a wooden stool, hanging drapes and, of course, leaves and flower heads. Ioganson intentionally disregards accuracy in his drawing, rejects the smooth painting and careful handling of detail, typical of the 1930s and 1940s socialist realism, and incorporates bright, contrasting colours into his creative arsenal, so as to convey in a generalised manner, by means of spirited brushstroke, a floral composition that has enraptured him.