29 November 2017
Little Flower Seller, signed and dated 1869.
Oil on canvas, 76.5 by 64 cm.
Provenance: With Mosskuppromtorg store, Moscow (label on the reverse of the frame).
Acquired by the USA Ambassador to the USSR, after 1959.
Important private collection, Europe.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert V. Petrov.
Little Flower Seller is one of the best works by Nikolai Rachkov, a major Russian master of 19th century genre portraiture who was extremely popular in the 1870s and 1880s in both Russian capitals. He was particularly famous for his skilfully painted images of women and children, executed with an easy charm and grace. The artist’s sensitivity and powers of observation enabled him to avoid sentimentality in his treatment of his pretty subjects.
Rachkov was born in Nizhegorodsky province. His father was an art teacher who undoubtedly exerted some influence on his son’s artistic development. In 1838 Rachkov entered the Arzamas School of Art, Russia’s oldest painting school, which was the alma mater of many celebrated painters, including Vasily Perov. After his graduation, Rachkov lived and taught in Arzamas, before moving to Moscow in the 1860s, where he exhibited extensively and soon won recognition. His paintings were accorded prizes from the Imperial Academy of Arts and shown at the Paris World Fair. They were acquired by celebrated collectors such as Pavel Tretyakov and Kozma Soldatenkov.
The present lot is one of Rachkov’s strongest works. His subject appears to be a young flower seller, who captivates the viewer with her serious and sincere gaze. The picture derives its particular charm from the unforced elegance of the young model’s pose, tightly holding her bouquet of colourful wild flowers and seemingly lost in her thoughts. These humble flowers symbolise the girl’s simple beauty, and the fallen petals remind us that time passes quickly and youth is transient.
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.