29 November 2017 Russian Art Auctions

29 November 2017

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Väinämöinen Playing the Kantele

* 146. BOGOMAZOV, ALEKSANDR (1880-1930)

Väinämöinen Playing the Kantele

Oil on canvas, 104.5 by 62 cm.
90,000-120,000 GBP

Executed c. 1911.

Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by Ya. Ivannikova, the artist’s daughter (inscription on the reverse).
Authenticity has also been confirmed by the expert Yu. Rybakova.

The work offered for auction, Väinämöinen Playing the Kantele, is a singular example of the artistic endeavours from the 1910s of Aleksandr Bogomazov, one of the leading lights in the Ukrainian avant-garde.

When, in 1911, Bogomazov was sent by the newspaper Kievskaia Mysl to Finland to produce a series of landscape and genre studies, his work still reflected the strong influence of Blue Rose symbolism, in which nature is perceived as an illusionist substance, and the treatment of the subject, while retaining a resemblance to reality, aims at simplification and idealisation of form.

The work presented here, which depicts a sculpture of the hero of the Finnish and Karelian Kalevala epic – the legendary minstrel and storyteller Väinämöinen, playing the kantele – was painted during that trip. In his treatise Painting and Elements (1914), Bogomazov was to write that “Painting is the perfect rhythm of the elements comprising it.” As though transmitting this thought visually, the picture Väinämöinen Playing the Kantele is marked by a unique rhythmic harmony of colour and form. The stylised tree branches, which seem to be slowly flowing downwards, and the moss on the rocks contrast here with the dynamic figure of the minstrel and storyteller, who appears to have come suddenly to life, with his left arm raised towards the sky, while the canvas’s colour scheme is eminently suitable for a stage set.

The actual sculpture, erected in 1873 in the Mon Repos Park near Vyborg, was lost during the Soviet-Finnish War of 1939–1940. Restored in 2007, it is in the same spot where Bogomazov depicted it.

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.