29 November 2017 Russian Art Auctions

29 November 2017

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Berries for Sale!

28. PLATONOV, KHARITON (1842-1907)

Berries for Sale!, signed and dated 1888.

Oil on canvas, 134.5 by 88 cm.
100,000-200,000 GBP

Provenance: Collection of A. N. Rusanov, from c. 1890.
Important private collection, Europe.

Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.

Literature: F. Bulgakov, Nashi Khudozhniki, St Petersburg, 1890, p. 98, listed under year 1888.

The outstanding genre painter Khariton Platonov was renowned primarily for his images of peasant children. Among the most successful and recognisable of his works is the canvas Berries for Sale! (1888) offered here at auction. On the strength of its subject matter, composition and the virtuoso technical skill with which it is painted, this piece stands together with the artist’s best work in museum collections, such as Gypsy Girls Begging for Alms (1892), Little Servant (1886) and Boy Shooting with a Bow (1878).

Though he was close to the Peredvizhniki group idea of reflecting the life of ordinary people, what Platonov created in his art was by no means true-to-life social reality. The artist was a master in portrayal of an idyllic, touching and idealised rustic world populated by tempting young wenches and charming, mischievous lads. Berries for Sale! is a canvas that also represents this kind of peasant themed idyll.

The composition of the work is thought through and arranged in a way that is distinctly Platonov’s. Figures of the children, portrayed frontally, address the viewer as if inviting him to become a participant in the action. The little girl standing on the left has even moved forward somewhat and is on the point of offering the viewer berries from a jug filled to the brim. This work is also distinguished by the attention paid to ethnographic niceties, as was common at the time, in rendering the young girls’ beautiful outfits – the way they are decorated, their ribbons and embroidered smocks. At the same time Platonov is extraordinarily laconic in rendering the surroundings of the childeren, taking particular care only in painting of the wooden fence beside which the children are standing and the wayside grass in front of it.

Platonov, a master of salon painting, lays no claim to depth or great ideas in his work, nor does he aspire to convey any psychological meaning. Instead, he charms the viewer with the joyous openness and alluring ingenuousness of the children he paints. His images of joie de vivre were, and still are, bought up avidly by collectors, for how do you resist children and young folk when they turn to look at you with their lovely innocent eyes?

Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.