29 November 2017
Pencil, tempera and pastel, heightened with bronze, on paper, laid on cardboard, 52.5 by 70.5 cm.
Executed in the 1900–1910s.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert O. Glebova.
Given its pronounced theatricality, Sergei Sudeikin’s work Resting, now offered for auction, can be seen as symbolising not only the artist’s work, but also the whole of Russian culture in the first two decades of the 20th century.
During that period, the theatre in Russia came to be something greater than art, gaining the status of a basic category of existence, according to which both the spiritual and material life of society could be viewed. Rooted in the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, the theatre strove to interpret the world as an “aesthetic phenomenon” and to transform the world according to the laws of art. A fierce proponent of the concept of theatricalising life, Sudeikin sought to satisfy people’s need for play, mystification and catharsis – a need that was becoming increasingly acute as the difficulty of perceiving the reality of a time of turbulence intensified.
In the work now presented, everything is subject to the principle of theatricalisation: there is the grotesque in the arrangement of the affected figures, lolling at rest; there is the depiction of the sun, trying to shine through fairy-tale trees, as though through a half-open backdrop curtain; and there is the colour scheme, which reveals repleteness, spiciness and even a deliberate sickly sweetness.
The handling of the composition is reminiscent of the pastoral scenes of the age of gallantry, on which Sudeikin so often worked at that time (The Shepherd’s Dream, 1910; Allegorical Scene, 1910). Yet, combined with the grotesque, this lyrical subject is translated onto a completely different plane, in which “theatricalised” life proves to be more robust and convincing than the real world.
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.