6 June 2018
Portrait of Maya Lugovskaya, signed, titled in Cyrillic and dated 1974 on the reverse, further variously inscribed on the stretcher.
Oil on canvas, 110 by 70 cm.
Provenance: Collection of the sitter.
Important private collection, Europe.
Exhibited: Venere Russa. Fascino femminile nell’arte del novecento, Foundazione Terruzzi Villa Regina Margherita, Bordighera, 9 July–28 September 2014.
Literature: V. Perelmuter, “Svoboda odinochestva”, Toronto Slavic Quarterly, No. 13, Summer 2005, online source, mentioned in the text.
Exhibition catalogue, X. Muratova, Venere Russa. Fascino femminile nell’arte del novecento, Milan, Silvana Editoriale, 2014, p. 163, illustrated.
The Portrait of Maya Lugovskaya, which is now offered for auction, is one of the most dramatic portraits by the Russian nonconformist artist Oleg Tselkov. Mikhail Chemiakin has described Tselkov’s style as a “heady mix of Rembrandt’s chiaroscuro and the voluptuous flesh of Rubens, multiplied by Russian madness and the vigour of a barbarous soul”. The work presented is a brilliant example of this.
The extravagant, “dusky beauty”, painted with strokes of red, maroon and gold colours, is a wife of the celebrated poet Vladimir Lugovskoy. One can recognise the enormous rings with semi-precious stones on her fingers, which she was so fond of wearing. The portrait reflected the enigmatic, mystical and beguiling essence of Maya Lugovskaya (1914–1993), who inspired both artists and poets. She was the muse of the artist Anatoly Zverev, among others. Maya would fire the imagination of anyone who was fortunate enough to meet her. She was a writer herself and a true connoisseur of poetry and literature. She was also fond of making prophecies and interpreting dreams. Outside literary and artistic circles, however, she was known as the geochemist Elena Bykova, who spent much of her time on geological expeditions.
According to the recollections of the prominent Russian poet and literary historian Vadim Perelmuter, the portrait now on offer hung in the model’s living room, “in a dim section of wall”, surrounded by “books interspersed with marvellous porcelain and wonderful trinkets”, in full view of members of Moscow’s bohemian society who regularly gathered at Maya’s home.
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.