29 November 2017
Le Port de Nice, signed and dated 1922.
Oil on canvas, 60.5 by 81 cm.
Provenance: Collection of the artist.
Acquired directly from the above by the father of a previous owner.
Important private collection, Europe.
Le Port de Nice, offered here for auction, is a unique testament to artistic freedom, experienced by Konstantin Korovin upon leaving the Soviet Union in 1922. Art critics said that the works created in the first few years of his immigration could not be “described”; they had to be seen, inasmuch as no verbal account could adequately recreate the formidable avalanche of colour that dominated them.
In November 1922, the artist suddenly left the Soviet Russia and set off for France, following the footsteps of his friend, the famous bass Feodor Chaliapin. Korovin initially meant to return after the treatment of his son was finished and his personal exhibition closed. Yet this never happened, and the Korovins first settled in Paris, and then relocated to Nice. Finding himself now in the south of France after the miserable and harsh post-revolutionary years that he had spent far from city life in the Tver region, with its northern, changeable climate, the artist truly revelled and gloried in the bright southern sun. He paints from life once again, going out for walks along the coast day after day with his easel. Korovin’s choice of Nice was not random. It is widely known that from the middle of the XIX century it was this picturesque city on the Cote d’Azur that became one of the favourite places for Russian émigré holidaymakers.
Le Port de Nice is one of the most original and successful landscapes created by Korovin in the south of France. The work is distinguished by a particularly vibrant colour scheme, artistic brilliance and effervescent brush- stroke. The horizontal format enabled the artist to include the wide embankment and the houses on the opposite side of the harbour, as well as the mountains and a strip of water. The outlines of the houses and mountains in the background of the composition seem to dissolve under the luminous sunlight, while the concisely rendered embankment in the foreground exudes palpable materiality typical of Korovin’s best southern landscapes. Looking at this work, Korovin’s own words come to mind: “Hereby I declare that I paint not for myself, but rather for all those who are capable of rejoicing in the sun and the infinitely varied universe of colour, those who never cease to be amazed at the perpetually changing interplay of light and shade”.
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.