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Major early work by Mikhail Larionov to headline MacDougall's Russian Art Auctions

Mikhail Larionov, Une journée de mai. Estimate: 900,000-2,000,000 GBP.

LONDON.- Une journée de mai, an outstanding early work by Mikhail Larionov, one of the most important avant-garde artists of the last century, is for sale at MacDougall’s Important Russian Art auction 5pm, 25 November 2012. His Impressionist paintings from this period are not only rarely found on the market but rarely found even in museum collections.

This work, which carries a pre-sale estimate of 900,000-2,000,000 GBP, was painted in 1904 at Tiraspol where the artist spent his childhood and to which he returned that summer, producing much of his best plein air work. Another hugely significant Impressionist work, Flowers on a Veranda, also painted at Tiraspol in the early 1900s, was sold at MacDougall’s May auction for 1,192,000 GBP.

The painting was widely exhibited after the artist’s death in 1964. It was shown at his posthumous retrospectives at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon and the Acquavella Galleries in New York, as well as at the 1976 Larionov, Gontcharova exhibition at the Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Ixelles in Brussels. The work is listed or illustrated in all the respective exhibition catalogues.

With its sketchily painted yet complete composition and its plein air execution, Une journée de mai dates from the beginning of his brief Impressionist period, but already there are hints of Larionov establishing himself as one of the most original and important artists of the 20th century. The window is used as a device which separates the viewer from the natural world outside but it also acts a portal which allows us to enter that very world. The play of light and space and the ambiguous viewpoints engendered by the use of the window and mirror create a sense of internal motion and prefigure the experiments with Rayonism which the artist was to embark upon a couple of years later.

Another early work by Larionov, Autumn Twlight, will be offered in MacDougall’s evening sale with an estimate of 180,000‒250,000 GBP. Autumn Twilight was painted as early as 1900, pre-dating Larionov’s generally accepted Impressionist period but in both content and style clearly betrays the influence of the French artistic movement, and is one of the earliest surviving oil paintings by the artist to remain in private hands. Both paintings present an extremely rare opportunity to acquire significant museum-quality works by this artist.

These paintings will be offered for auction alongside other masterpieces of 19th and 20th century Russian art at the sale of Important Russian Art on Sunday 25 November. On 28 November, MacDougall’s will present Russian paintings, icons and works of art.

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